Building Chinese global brands through soft technology transfer
Francis R. Ille
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the different strategies implemented by a number of successful Chinese firms currently striving to build global brands in order to improve their export capabilities. A particular emphasis is put on the transfer of marketing technology for brand engineering in order to achieve this goal. Design/methodology/approach – The analysis uses case study methodology to understand what many prominent Chinese exporting firms have achieved, and develops a theory about their general strategy. Five firms have been chosen: Lenovo, Haier, Cosco, Tsingtao, Geely. Aside from these five, information is also given on the branding strategy of Li Ning and Suntech Power. A great part of the information collected is coming from “desk research”, except for Haier, Lenovo and Tsingtao for which personal contacts and visits took place in 2005 and 2006. Findings – The findings suggest that some of the most successful Chinese firms in the field of development of brand image either use some marketing tools, such as increasing their communication spending, improving quality control, emphasizing their corporate social responsibility visibility, or by seeking a partnership through mergers/acquisition with successful foreign brands. A basic global branding model has been defined as consistent with Chinese firms’ experience. Research limitations/implications – The study was limited to seven firms to be considered among the most successful Chinese businesses. It does not intend to be perceived as statistically representative. The period of observation of the effect of the strategy which was implemented was short and during a time of booming Chinese economy. It was impossible to isolate the extraneous variables linked to the economic or competitive situation, knowing that they could affect the observations on the firms that were studied. Originality/value – Though the entry strategies on the Chinese market as well as inbound foreign direct investments have been the object of a great number of publications, the outbound strategies of Chinese exporting firms, as well as the impact of technology transfer, has been covered less frequently. Therefore, this paper can have value for candidates for the improvement of global branding.
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