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Chinese Brands Ready to Go West – Brand Finance Report

12 March 2018
This article is more than 6 years old.

· China shows global brand leadership in variety of sectors, from banking to spirits.

· Valued at US$59.2 billion, ICBC remains most valuable brand in Brand Finance China 300 league table.

· Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei lead charge as technology is poised to overtake banking for ranking’s most valuable sector.

· Fastest-growing Chinese brands come from auto and spirits sectors with BYD up 211% and Wuliangye up 161%.

View the full list of China’s 300 top brands here

This year’s Brand Finance China 300 league table conclusively shows that China is able to lead on a global playing field. This is demonstrated in the country’s global brand leadership in a wide variety of sectors, ranging from banking, to utilities, to insurance, and even to spirits. This means that brands like Huawei, Ping An, State Grid, Evergrande, ICBC, Yili, Haval, Wuliangye, and many others, having achieved success at home, are now beginning to be recognised worldwide as quality brands.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“This year has seen strong growth amongst big Chinese brands. The unique modern history of the Chinese economy has produced huge brands on the domestic front. In coming years, Chinese brands have an opportunity to use this strong domestic foundation as a platform for global expansion. In the past, many Western brands told stories of going to China. In the future, we expect to see many Chinese brands expand to the West.”

Banking: China’s Most Valuable Sector
ICBC achieved brand value growth of 24% to US$59.2 billion to remain China’s most valuable brand, just ahead of China Construction Bank, whose brand value grew 37% to US$56.8 billion. The two brands are also the world’s most valuable in the banking sector.

Bank of China (up 34% to US$41.7 billion) and Agricultural Bank of China (up 31% to US$37.3 billion) also contributed to the banking sector remaining the country’s most valuable, as it accounts for US$323.6 billion brand value in the Brand Finance China 300 league table.

Technology: Sector of Rising Stars
While Amazon is the world leader in technology sector brand value, Chinese tech brands are in hot pursuit including Alibaba (up 58% to US$54.9 billion), Tencent (up 83% to US$40.8 billion), and Huawei (up 51% to US$38.0 billion). The overall share of tech brands in the Brand Finance China 300 league table has increased from 20.7% to 24.4% of the ranking’s total brand value over the last year, almost closing the gap to the banking sector as the home of China’s biggest brands, whose share decreased from 29.2% to 24.7%.

Alibaba, which is also the world’s fastest growing big retail brand in percentage terms, shows no sign of slowing as it plans to invest US$15.2bn towards its global logistics chain expansion. Also growing quickly, Tencent’s WeChat app and gateway now has over 800 million users, where it has become essential for communication in China. It has leveraged its brand to develop an extraordinary level of vertical product integration, providing a range of complementary services that would require dozens of specialised apps to deliver in western countries.

The phenomenal global rise by Huawei continues with its smartphone business now firmly in third place behind American Apple and Korean Samsung. The core networking business, which delivers the bulk of Huawei’s global revenue, is growing with the expectation of 5G services coming online soon. Since 2012, Huawei has grown nearly 700% from US$4.8 billion to US$38.0 billion, trailblazing Chinese efforts to build home-grown brands.

Telecoms: China Mobile is World’s Strongest Telecoms Brand
China Mobile (up 14% to US$53.2 billion), the fourth most valuable Chinese brand, is the most valuable telecoms brand in Asia. China Mobile boasts the world’s most extensive mobile network and the world’s largest mobile phone customer base. Its success can also be credited to the advanced moves it is making in the testing of single-carrier 400G Optical Transport Networking (OTN) - the first of its kind for domestic providers. China Mobile is also the strongest brand in the global Brand Finance telecoms league table with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.3 and a corresponding AAA brand rating.

Insurance: Ping An is World’s Most Valuable Insurance Brand
Ping An (up 46% to US$32.6 billion) is the global insurance sector’s most valuable brand for the second year running. This result comes on the back of reporting the highest profit in the industry, with new business up 32%. The younger and more fluid Chinese market continues to offer greater growth opportunities than more established Western markets.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Ping An’s brand is safe and well as the company celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The brand’s growing market share and excellent financial results speak for themselves. Ping An’s equity with customers also continues to grow, but the brand needs to remain attentive to other stakeholders’ perceptions too and stay alert to challenges from competitors.”

Utilities: State Grid Electrifies Ranking
This year, State Grid was included in the Brand Finance rankings for the first time, and has made a commanding entrance to the China 300 league table. With a brand value of US$40.9 billion, it is by far the most valuable utility brand in the world. The company’s footprint covers the majority of China’s land area, and serves a population of more than 1.1 billion. The brand’s success is supported through strategic investment, innovative technology, responsible operations, and environmental stability efforts. State Grid is committed to an electrification revolution in China that would connect all networks across the country. The brand is known for investing in ‘Smart Grid’ electrical systems using Ultra High Voltage (UHV) lines, among other projects which enable a cleaner and more efficient transmission of electricity.

Automobiles and Spirits Lead Brand Growth
Outside the top ten ranking, a number of Chinese brands enjoyed exceptionally strong brand value growth, led by the two car brands of BYD (up 211% to US$3.4 billion) and Haval (up 124% to US$6.8 billion). Alongside the car brands, baijiu brand Wuliangye (up 161% to US$14.6 billion) was the second-fastest growing brand in the China 300 ranking. Because of its popularity amongst customers across the country, Wuliangye has been dubbed the ‘magic liquor of China’. In addition, Wuliangye will shortly join Moutai (up 73% to US$21.2 billion) as the only two consumer brands in the world to have airports named after them with Yibin Wuliangye Airport due to join Zunyi Maotai Airport later this year.

Scott Chen, Managing Director, Brand Finance China, commented:

“Chinese auto brands have achieved fast brand value growth thanks to their success in the domestic mass market. Like baijiu maker Wuliangye, the brands remain largely unknown outside China. However, they are now expected to turn their attention to global ambitions as they seek to leverage their brand strength internationally.”

View the Brand Finance China 300 report here


Note to Editors

Every year, leading valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance values the world’s biggest brands. China’s 300 most valuable brands are included in the Brand Finance China 300 2018 league table.

Brand value is equal to a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand. Brand strength is used to determine what proportion of a business’s revenue is contributed by the brand.

More information about the methodology as well as definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance China 300 2018 report.

Data compiled for the Brand Finance league tables and reports is provided for the benefit of the media and is not to be used for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

Media Contacts

Penny Erricker
Communications Executive
Brand Finance

About Brand Finance

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Bridging the gap between marketing and finance for more than 25 years, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organizations of all kinds make strategic decisions.

Headquartered in London, Brand Finance has offices in over 20 countries, offering services on all continents. Every year, Brand Finance conducts more than 5,000 brand valuations, supported by original market research, and publishes over 100 reports which rank brands across all sectors and countries.

Brand Finance also operates the Global Brand Equity Monitor, conducting original market research annually on over 5,000 brands, surveying more than 150,000 respondents across 38 countries and 31 industry sectors. Combining perceptual data from the Global Brand Equity Monitor with data from its valuation database enables Brand Finance to arm brand leaders with the data and analytics they need to enhance brand and business value.

Brand Finance is a regulated accountancy firm, leading the standardization of the brand valuation industry. Brand Finance was the first to be certified by independent auditors as compliant with both ISO 10668 and ISO 20671 and has received the official endorsement of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) in the United States.

Definition of Brand

Brand is defined as a marketing-related intangible asset including, but not limited to, names, terms, signs, symbols, logos, and designs, intended to identify goods, services, or entities, creating distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders, thereby generating economic benefits.

Brand Strength

Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors. Brand Finance evaluates brand strength in a process compliant with ISO 20671, looking at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance. The data used is derived from Brand Finance’s proprietary market research programme and from publicly available sources.

Each brand is assigned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100, which feeds into the brand value calculation. Based on the score, each brand is assigned a corresponding Brand Rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

Brand Valuation Approach

Brand Finance calculates the values of brands in its rankings using the Royalty Relief approach – a brand valuation method compliant with the industry standards set in ISO 10668. It involves estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use, to arrive at a ‘brand value’ understood as a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.

The steps in this process are as follows:

1 Calculate brand strength using a balanced scorecard of metrics assessing Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and Business Performance. Brand strength is expressed as a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score on a scale of 0 to 100.

2 Determine royalty range for each industry, reflecting the importance of brand to purchasing decisions. In luxury, the maximum percentage is high, while in extractive industry, where goods are often commoditised, it is lower. This is done by reviewing comparable licensing agreements sourced from Brand Finance’s extensive database.

3 Calculate royalty rate. The BSI score is applied to the royalty range to arrive at a royalty rate. For example, if the royalty range in a sector is 0-5% and a brand has a BSI score of 80 out of 100, then an appropriate royalty rate for the use of this brand in the given sector will be 4%.

4 Determine brand-specific revenues by estimating a proportion of parent company revenues attributable to a brand.

5 Determine forecast revenues using a function of historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts, and economic growth rates.

6 Apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues.

7 Discount post-tax brand revenues to a net present value which equals the brand value.


Brand Finance has produced this study with an independent and unbiased analysis. The values derived and opinions presented in this study are based on publicly available information and certain assumptions that Brand Finance used where such data was deficient or unclear. Brand Finance accepts no responsibility and will not be liable in the event that the publicly available information relied upon is subsequently found to be inaccurate. The opinions and financial analysis expressed in the study are not to be construed as providing investment or business advice. Brand Finance does not intend the study to be relied upon for any reason and excludes all liability to any body, government, or organisation.

The data presented in this study form part of Brand Finance's proprietary database, are provided for the benefit of the media, and are not to be used in part or in full for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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