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Business Trends

Chinese consumers swing toward local brands

Apple and Ikea drop out of top 10 ranking by Prophet

Alipay retained its top spot from last year's ranking.   © Other Provider(90days)

HONG KONG -- Chinese brands are rapidly rising in attractiveness for domestic consumers, according to a new survey by consultancy Prophet.

Chinese brands occupy seven of the top 10 spots in Prophet's latest annual China brand relevance index against three foreign brands -- a complete reversal from the company's 2017 survey.

"[Companies] who used to be perceived as followers of international leaders have redefined themselves as a group of new homegrown heroes," the new report said. "Through continuous tangible innovation they are outpacing their international peers, winning the hearts of Chinese consumers and catching attention from the broader world."

Alipay, the mobile payment service linked to Alibaba Group Holding, retained its top spot from last year's ranking. The rest of the top 10 this year are also tech brands, including Alibaba's Taobao (No. 6) and Tmall (No. 10) online shopping services. By contrast in 2017, half the top spots were held by conventional consumer brands like BMW and Nike.

Android, the mobile phone operating system from Alphabet, ranked No. 2 in the new survey as it switched places with new No. 3 WeChat, the messaging system of Tencent Holdings. Tencent's older QQ instant messaging service was No. 9.

The other Chinese brands in the top ranks were phone maker Huawei (No. 4) and Meituan (No. 8), the service platform for food delivery and more, that is to list on the Hong Kong stock market next week.

"Today many Chinese companies are delivering higher-quality products and better service, far from Western investors' eyes," wrote Laurent Saltiel, chief investment officer for emerging markets growth at fund group Alliance Bernstein, in a blog post last week with colleagues. "We believe Chinese brands are undervalued, given their potential to drive earnings growth."

Android was the only Western brand returning from Prophet's top 10 from last year. It was joined this time by Microsoft at No. 5 and Intel at No. 7. Dropped off were Ikea, Apple, Estee Lauder and Marriott.

The top 10 companies in the 2018 Prophet China Brand Relevance Index are: Alipay, Android, WeChat, Huawei, Microsoft, Taobao, Intel, Meituan, QQ and Tmall.

For the report, Prophet surveyed 13,000 Chinese consumers in June, as the US-China trade war was heating up, asking them to rank around 250 brands in terms of their innovativeness, inspirational impact, reliability and utility.

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