Branding in China: what every company should know

Successful branding in China requires more than just entering the market with a promising product. It is important to focus on the long term strategy and find the right sales channels. Therefore, there are many steps involved in branding in China.

Branding in China: pay attention to consumers

The most active consumers in China today are millennials and Gen Z. Their view on consumption habits is different from the stereotypes of the previous generation. They are representatives of a new generation that has grown up in the digital age. They often don’t care about the brand, but they care about the aesthetics as such. They want to feel and demonstrate their superiority: they use Western things, buy foreign products, go to restaurants with European cuisine. And, at the same time, they do not want to overpay for premium brands in China. It is the feeling of “premium” that is important for them, but not nominal involvement in it. As the first step, Doxaganda team will help you to define your target consumer group in China and their preferences.

How to do branding in China

The Chinese market is truly oversaturated. And therefore, choosing the right product has become a really difficult and responsible task. It has become very important for the modern consumer not to doubt the quality of their preferences. The modern generation of Chinese consumers don’t get used to products of low quality. This problem really plagued the Chinese market 20 years ago – but now compliance with manufacturing standards has become more of a “hygienic factor”.

Also, the Chinese consumers value ​​their time. They don’t want to read a long label: if the packaging contains too much information, it might seem disrespectful for the consumer who is too busy. Therefore, Doxaganda team will help you to find the right packaging design in China to attract consumers.

Product naming is important for branding in China

Source: daxue consulting, brand naming in China

When entering the Chinese market, one of the most common mistakes foreign companies make is the incorrect translation of the name of their brand or product. Due to the fact that the Chinese writing system has a hieroglyphic system, and the phonetic structure is fundamentally different from the languages ​​of the Indo-European family, translation and adaptation of the trademark is of great importance. Even the most famous foreign brands can face difficulties in the Chinese market if they don’t have an adapted and attractive name for the consumer. Doxaganda team uses three approaches when helping to choose a brand name.

Literal translation

Literal translation is to convey the meaning of the name without preserving the similarity of sound. For example, the juice brand “Mr. Juicy” has the Chinese name” 果汁 先生 “, which literally translates as” fruit juice “and “lord”. The Swiss manufacturer Nestle, which in the 19th century decided to use the form of a nest with birds to promote its products, in the Chinese version it also sounds like “nest” – “雀巢” (Quechao).

Phonetic translation

Phonetic translation involves the transfer of signs of one language by signs of another language while preserving the phonetic basis of the word. This method is used if it is important to preserve the brand’s sound; Many world-famous clothing manufacturers use this method (Giorgio Armani – Qiaozhi amani, 乔治 阿玛尼, Adidas – Adidasi, 阿迪达斯). The Wal-Mart retail chain appeared in China in 2000 under the name 沃尔玛 (Woerma), the Lipton tea brand is立 顿 (Lidun), the Carlsberg beer brand is 嘉士伯 (Jiashibo). Japanese and Korean manufacturers also often use this method. When choosing this method, should remember that words consisting of three or more characters appeared in China relatively recently. They mainly have foreign origin and may seem unnatural and too complicated to Chinese consumers, which means they will be worse perceived and remembered.

Descriptive translation

It is the most difficult, but often the most effective way to translate a brand name into Chinese. Currently, this is a method widespread among Western companies, which involves conveying the meaning and relevant products of associations to the consumer without maintaining a similarity of sound.

Why e-commerce is crucial for branding in China?


China’s e-commerce market is the largest in the world. Among the promotion tools, influencer marketing occupies a special place, that is, work with key opinion leaders (KOLs). According to PWC, this is due to mobile consumer behavior and the China’s innovative social commerce model. However, as with any market, there are cultural differences and consumer preferences to be aware of when doing business.

A distinctive feature is the growing differentiation of China’s regions. There is a significant difference in economic development as well as in the living standards of the population between municipalities, cities and rural areas within the country. In other words, it is impossible to develop a single marketing strategy for China.

In China, online shopping is the most popular. In 2020, online sales hit 11.7 trillion yuan. According to Goldman Sachs, about 75% of China’s online shoppers are urban millennials. Most of them are from upper-tier cities, which is also important to consider when strategizing.

Data Source: Xinhua, Online sales in China

The most popular online advertising industries in China are fashion, automobiles and beauty industries. Spending on advertised products within these industries is growing at a rate of 553% per year and occupies 11.8% of the market share in 2020. The latter is the difference from Western social media platforms. The Chinese counterparts of the social networks are more functional and, as a result, more adapted to promote products.

Marketing in China is becoming more interactive (for example, the popularity of video sharing is growing rapidly), so the influence of social media is growing.

Role of tech giants in branding in China

Source: daxue consulting, Costs on marketplace for branding in China

In a modern culture, when consumer preferences are more influenced by social networks, influencers are clearly aware of their advantage over traditional promotion tools. In the field of digital promotion, the leading corporations are Alibaba, Tencent and ByteDance. However, the Chinese internet has two key tech giant – Tencent and Alibaba. Each of them has its own ecosystems, which restrict information sharing between their platforms.

For example, HomeFacialPro (# 4 skincare brand on Tmall) has managed to create a virtual circle of interaction between its Tmall store and WeChat account. Each item on Tmall has a WeChat QR code attached to it, which allows you to redirect the user after purchase to the WeChat ecosystem to showcase promotional and discount messages.

Additionally, using of mobile application became a new normal for Chinese customers. No cash, no bank cards – this is natural for “advanced” young people. They paid for all services and purchases in We Chat or with wallets built into applications for a long time already, therefore brand should not ignore this fact.

Own retail channels for branding in China

Doxaganda will help you build close relationships with your consumers, while also maintaining your presence in Chinese e-commerce platforms. In addition, Doxaganda team can create channels owned by the brands themselves. They help to eliminate problems such as skyrocketing consumer acquisition costs, increasingly sophisticated requirements and needs, loss of loyalty and loss of ownership by e-commerce giants.

How Doxaganda will help you with branding in China

Doxaganda can help you to do branding. It includes such services as brand naming in China, packaging design, social media promotion and social media listening and many others.