China needs brands to build its brand
perfect before anything is released to the consumer, and the marketing people want it today.”
Wang also specializes in Chinese marketing on the advice of Robin Wensley, the former dean of Warwick Business School.
“He said if I was to study marketing, I should study China marketing because it would give me a unique selling point in the UK,” she laughed.
It was a new subject in China because in the 1970s there was not even a word for it, she said.
“It was a planned economy so there was no need for marketing. Nowadays the word is yingxiao, which means selling.”
Wang has been evangelical in trying to get across the message in China itself that brands and marketing are important. She addressed the Pujiang Innovation Forum, organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology, in Shanghai as far back as 2000.
“People there were talking about innovation and I went there to talk about brands because I wanted to raise the awareness among Chinese companies and the government itself that they should really understand how to build brands.”
When China first began to rapidly develop, many Chinese companies found their brands were killed almost at birth by Western companies, she said.
“Some Chinese companies were very naive. They had brands that could have been quite promising but they allowed themselves to be acquired by Western brands which basically discarded them,” she said.
Wang, who has held a number of posts at Chinese universities, including Sun Yat-sen, Tongji and Tsinghua, said the problem many Chinese brands face today is the negative association attached with being from China.
“Unfortunately, it means cheap, and that is not just for Western people but the Chinese too. So Chinese companies often try to give their products Western-sounding names.”
However, she believes Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei have made huge strides.
Chinese infrastructure companies are also moving from markets such as Africa, where they are now well established, to Europe to be involved in major projects such as HS2 highspeed rail link in Britain.
“I think Europe is a very promising strategic partner for Chinese companies and I think they are very receptive to Chinese involvement. I think it is much more objective about this than the US.”
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