The globalisation of Chinese brands

Ying Fan (Brunel University, London, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Publication date: 1 June 2006



To examine the state of health of branding in China, focusing on the performance of major Chinese enterprises in creating brands (as distinct from brand names), sustaining them in the huge domestic market and expand them into global markets.


The study begins with a historical review of the development of marketing in China, discusses the transition from price competition to branding in the domestic market, and explains the role of government in the process. Thereafter, case histories describe, analyse and discuss the routes to internationalisation followed by taken by six of China's biggest brands.


Modern Chinese companies are large and successful as manufacturers, but uncertain about the relative merits of branding and global marketing versus continuation as OEMs for established global brands. If they do have international ambitions, they seem unsure about strategy, or even about where to look for precedents and advice. Many initiatives have met with comparative failure; only one, the Lemovo‐IBM merger, seems to offer a blueprint for success, but has been in operation only since 2005. Many lessons remain to be learnt, applied and tested.

Research limitations/implications

Six case histories, however well chosen, cannot be considered a definitive picture of the Chinese approach to international brand marketing. The findings are nevertheless highly indicative.

Practical implications

International marketing strategists are obliged to have an interest in China, by virtue of the simple fact of its size and dynamism. Several of the companies discussed are the largest of their kind in the world. Despite the limitations noted, the actual and potential conclusions to be drawn from the findings reported here are therefore a significant contribution to the body of applicable knowledge.


Whereas many authors have studied Western brands in China, little has been known about the potential of Chinese brands in the West.



Fan, Y. (2006), "The globalisation of Chinese brands", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 365-379.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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