Overcapacity is hurting consumer articles in almost every part of the country, JWT’s China CEO Tom Doctoroff told media in India on the side lines of a marketing conference. For that reason, branding has a bright future in the country. In Afaqs:
“China is a market where scale counts, big brands count, being present in every corner of every retail store counts,” Doctoroff said. “The future is bright for branding in China.” Chinese consumers need brands for “sanity and identity”, he said.
Today, there are over 500 mobile phone models in China, which even penetrate rural areas. With an explosion in choices, there is a threat of disorientation and confusion. So, a brand brings about some amount of sanity with its organised way of operating, in a market that hates incivility and chaos, Doctoroff explained.
Furthermore, often for the Chinese, the ‘clan’ is more important than the individual. This denial of the individual is an opportunity for brands, which can become surrogate indicators that project identity, and thereby, touch hearts. “The younger generation in China, in particular, is modern, but doesn’t argue with its boss; unlike India, I am told,” grinned Doctoroff. “So, brands are perhaps one of the few of their ways to assert who they are.”
Having described the positives of branding in China, he stated that the biggest challenge the market is facing is that of overcapacity. The facts speak for themselves, he cited – from 65 car models in 1999, there are now over 400; the supply of colour television sets is 250 per cent that of their demand, resulting in a 7 per cent drop in prices over the last three years.
Tom Doctoroff is also a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need him at your conference, do get in touch.
Tom Doctoroff also contributed to our recently released book A Changing China. You can order it here or ask for a free review copy on pdf-format.