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English>>China Business

Brand positioning through experience

By Yao Shujie and Mike Bastin  (China Daily)

10:07, August 24, 2012

Chinese consumers display differences from their Western counterparts

Brand positioning, the image of the brand within the consumer's mind, is no longer a fixed, static concept. Instead, it is becoming increasingly dynamic and often varies across countries and cultures and according to specific consumer experiences.

Many brands enjoy a quite different image across cultures, even when the branded product and other marketing-mix elements are largely similar. China and the Chinese consumer provide a good example of this phenomenon, where many "medium quality" Western brands are perceived as "premium", "glamorous" or even "exclusive" and "luxury".

Examples that spring to mind are Starbucks, Apple, Holiday Inn and BMW, which are all associated with "prestige" and "elitism" by the new, affluent urban Chinese consumer, while across Europe and the US they are considered high-quality but functional brands.

One obvious reason for this rush to purchase and visibly consume such "exclusive" brands lies behind the rapid economic and social development of certain parts of China. Chinese consumers in these areas, largely the first-tier cities and southeastern coastal provinces, suddenly find themselves for the first time in a position to enjoy such expensive luxuries. In consequence, Chinese consumers with lower purchasing power are also attracted to the relatively new, glamorous brands, such as clothes and cars, in order to combat any feelings of inferiority.

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