Interbrand ranks Chinese brands

And other news in Greater China

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SHANGHAI--Interbrand, in conjunction with Chinese-language magazine 21st Century Business Review, has released its second annual league table of China’s best brands. The compilation is based on a detailed analysis of financial earnings, consumer behavior and brand strength.

This year’s top brand is once again China Mobile, valued at $42.3 billion, up 11% from 2006 at the head of the list of 25 brands. China Mobile is the largest mobile phone operator in China, and in the world, by number of subscribers, with 350 million customers at the end of September 2007. It operates branded services such as GoTone and M-Zone, a youth brand linked to Jay Chou, a Taiwanese actor and singer frequently featured in China Mobile's advertising.

Rounding out the top five are China Construction Bank ($11.2 billion), Bank of China ($11.1 billion), China Life ($8.6 billion) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China ($6.2 billion), putting them on par with some of the most valuable brands in the world.

The minimum brand value required to reach the list this year increased to 1.1 billion from 1 billion RMB, and the number of brands ranked grew to 25 from 20. Following a wave of IPOs and explosive growth in the Chinese economy, newcomers added to the list include Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Mobile rival China Unicom, CITIC Bank, People's Insurance Company of China Group (PICC), Minsheng Bank, China's No. 2 home appliance chain retailer Suning Appliance Chains Group, dairy giant Inner Mongolia Mengniu Milk Industry Co., the sportswear marketer Li Ning Co. and online search provider,

Remarkably, 13 brands grew by more than 10%. The three fastest-growing brands were China Life, up by 100%, Ping An Insurance Co., up 62% and Lenovo, which grew by 59%. Seven other brands' value increased by more than 20%. Chinese consumers have more disposable income, and more goods and services to choose from, giving brands a more important role.

Interbrand has identified other brands as significant but doesn't rank them, due to lack of available data and other factors. They are the flagship brands produced by Haier Group, producer of household appliances; Huawei Technologies Co, China's largest networking and telecommunications equipment supplier; Tsingtao Brewery; China Central Television (CCTV); Air China; Shanghai Baosteel Group Corp.; Gome Electrical Appliances, China's top consumer-electronics chain; Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Co. (ZTE), a provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions; e-commercia giant Alibaba Group; Chinese web portal; International, an online travel service provider; Chery Automobile; Geely Automobile; Home Inns & Hotels Management, which operates budget hotels across China; China Netcom, leading broadband communications and fixed-line telecommunications operator; Meters Bonwe Group, which manufactures and retails sports and casual wear; New Oriental Education & Technology Group, a provider of private educational services; Chinese pharmaceutical company Tong Ren Tang; and dairy giant Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group.

“The economic miracle of China continues to astound the world and Chinese brands are beginning to realize their great potential. Eight new brands made our list this year, and over half grew by more than 10%," said Shanghai-based Jonathan Chajet, Interbrand's strategy director, Asia/Pacific. "With consumers still largely price sensitive, there remains enormous room for growth. While the list is dominated by the telecommunications and financial services sectors, we are beginning to see the emergence of strong consumer brands in the electronics, FMCG and internet categories.”

Chinese more influenced by blogs than U.S. web users
SAN FRANCISCO--Nearly 60% of Chinese consumers are influenced by user generated content such as consumer reviews and ratings web sites, online forums and discussion boards and blogs, compared to just 19% of American shoppers, according to a recent survey called China and the U.S. Web 2.0 Behavior. The survey was done by, a consumer market data company in San Francisco owned by Media-Screen.

"Chinese consumers frequently turn to one another, in addition to corporate media sources, when making purchase decisions," said Josh Crandall, Media-Screen's managing director. Netpop conducted an online survey of abuut 4,000 broadband users aged 13 and over in each of the two countries in, August 2007.

The company's research shows more broadband users in China (47%) post comments to blogs, chat rooms, list servs and forums, compared to their U.S. counterparts (28%). And 46% of Chinese broadband users use a search engine to make purchase decisions vs. just 25% of Americans. The average broadband user in China is 32, ten years younger than in the U.S. Seventy-five percent of Chinese online consumers access the internet from work, compared to only 41% of Americans.

Danone ends dairy joint venture with Mengniu
SHANGHAI--Groupe Danone has dissolved the joint venture it set up one year ago with the Chinese dairy giant Inner Mongolia Mengniu Milk Industry Co. to produce and distribute fresh dairy products in the mainland.

The decision comes at the same time Danone, which held a 49% stake in the Mengniu venture, is embroiled in a legal dispute with another Chinese partner, Hangzhou Wahaha Group. The French food company has accused the owner of Wahaha of setting up a separate production and distribution network to market and sell products using the Wahaha trademark outside of the joint venture. Danone partnered with Wahaha in 1996, and has a 51% stake in that joint venture.

Perfetti Van Melle appoints JWT
SHANGHAI--Perfetti Van Melle has appointed JWT, Shanghai without a pitch to handle creative for its Alpenliebe chocolate candy brand in China. The WPP Group agency will help the confectionery marketer develop brand and communication strategy and creative work for the next year. Previously, Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson handled creative for Alpenliebe in China.

Perfetti Van Melle, created through the merger of Perfetti and Van Melle NV, also markets Mentos and Chuppa Chupps in China. Bartle Bogle Hegarty handle creative for both Mentos and Chuppa Chupps in China. Media planning and buying is handled by WPP's GroupM division, Maxus.

Heartland joins Posterscope Worldwide
SHANGHAI--Aegis Group has acquired a majority share in the Chinese outdoor agency, Heartland Media, which will become part of the group's Posterscope network. Heartland offers media planning and buying and creative services, and monitors and maintains of outdoor ad spaces for companies such as Nokia, Hitachi and Coca-Cola Co. Jay Lin started the company, now with eight offices, in Shanghai in 2000, and will remain CEO of the business.

CDC will bring Lunia online game to U.S.
BEIJING--CDC Games, a division of Beijing-based CDC Corp., will launch Lunia Online, a multiplayer online role playing game based on the manga style comic art form, in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2008. A pioneer of the "free-to-play, pay for merchandise" model for online games in China, CDC is one of a leader in online and mobile games in China with over 100 million registered users. Titles include Yulgang, Shaiya, Special Force, Mir III, Shine and Eve Online.

Lunia Online, developed by Korea-based ALLM Co., is based on the manga style of Japanese comics, which is popular throughout the world and a $200 million industry in the U.S., according to Publishers Weekly. Unlike many other multiplayer role-playing online games, Lunia Online is played much like an action arcade game, allowing players to move around using arrow keys rather than a mouse.
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