91% Chinese consumers rate brand origin as important as price

Ninety one percent of Chinese respondents say a brand’s country of origin is as important as or more important than other purchasing drivers such as selection/choice, price, function and quality, according to findings from the Nielsen Global Brand-Origin Report.

Safer ingredients and processing were the top-selected reason for choosing global (50%) and local (38%) brands. Better price/value (30% for global brands, 38% for local), better product benefits (34%, 24%), previous positive experience with the product (28%, 27%) and better overall nutrition on the brand (28%, 24%) were also among the top-selected reasons for selecting a product.

In total, 77% of Chinese respondents strongly agree (32%) or somewhat agree (45%) that global brands are usually more expensive than local brands, 72% people strongly agree (27%) or somewhat agree (45%) global brands offer the latest product offerings/ innovations compared to local brands, and 67% of respondent strongly believe (25%) or somewhat agree (42%) that global brands offer higher quality than local brands.

Global baby food and formula brands are greatly preferred in China. About 54% Chinese respondents said they prefer global brands, and 30% said would more likely to purchase local brands.

For personal-care and beauty products, global brands are the clear favorite in China. The survey found that 47% Chinese respondents seek online channels to search/buy global personal care and beauty product brands, in contrast, only 28% respondents search and buy local brands online.

For fresh foods, local brands are, not surprisingly, the clear preference for Chinese consumers. The majority of Chinese respondents who have purchased the category say they prefer local brands to global ones for vegetables (71% vs. 9%), meat (67% vs. 11%), fruit (66% vs. 10%), seafood (58% vs. 16%) and yogurt (58% vs. 16%).

Local brands are also preferred for food and beverage categories in China, and Chinese would like to actively seek via online sources to search/buy local (48%) and global (28%) food and drink products.

For packaged foods and snacks, local taste preferences dominate in China. Local brands are preferred to global brands for ice cream (38% vs. 29%), crisps/crackers (36% vs. 28%), breakfast cereal (50% vs. 21%), instant noodles (51% vs. 17%) and canned vegetables (52% vs. 10%).

“In a crowded retail environment, brand origin can be an important differentiator between brands, but sentiment varies by category and by country, and leveraging a powerful brand presence needs to be managed carefully regardless of whether it is global or local,” said Patrick Dodd, group president, Nielsen Growth Markets.

“Ultimately, the brands that deliver on a strong value proposition and connect personally to consumers’ needs will have the advantage in any given market.”