Is China's Ad Market Immune to the Global Recession?

Wahaha Was the Top-Spending Brand in China This Year; Overall Ad Spending Up 9% Says CTR Media Intelligence

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BEIJING ( -- Advertising expenditure in China reached $34.01 billion during the first half of this year, a 9% increase over the first half of 2008, according to CTR Media Intelligence.

While ad spending has fallen in the global ad market, China has survived the challenges of "the financial crisis with the support of domestic stimulus package impact," said Tian Tao, a CTR VP in Beijing.

The Chinese government's $586 billion stimulus package has generated huge domestic demand, especially for under-developed tier-two and tier-three cities, helping to offset the decrease in foreign exports this year.

"We believe that China's advertising market will stay on the stable growth track for the second half and achieve [our] forecast 8% annual increase at the end of 2009," said Mr. Tian.

That's a big change from forecasts issued earlier this year.

In March 2009, Group M predicted ad spending in China would grow by just 3.2% growth this year, representing a real fall of 1.1% after inflation and a major drop from the 13% growth forecast issued by Group M in December 2008.

Also in March 2009, Aegis Group-owned Carat forecast 4.6% growth for media spending in China, far below the 10.9% growth for 2009 in Carat's previous forecast issued in August 2008. ZenithOptimedia also cut spending estimates spending in China last spring.

Instead, in the first half of 2009, television, which accounts for over 79% of total ad spending in China, grew by 12%, and outdoor media by 3%.

Spending shrank for newspapers, magazines and radio, however. Print media was hit particularly hard, due to spending cuts in China's real estate sector. But it could have been far worse, according to CTR, a joint venture between China International Television Corp. (CITVC) and Kantar Group.

Telecommunications operators boosted print and radio advertising to promote new 3G mobile services.

Due to fierce competition, ad spending on beverages soared by 50%, driven mainly by spending for fruit and vegetable juices, carbonated beverages and tea drinks. Real estate and transportation were the slowest sectors, with double-digit declines.

Wahaha was the most advertised brand in China during the first half of the year, following a 135% increase in spending compared to the same period last year. Wahaha is owned by Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co, Ltd, one of China's leading beverage producers.

L'Oreal was the second-most advertised brand in China, up 59%, according to CTR. Procter & Gamble Co. reduced advertising expenditure on its Olay brand, but the skin care range still held the No. 3 spot.

Top 5 Ad Categories, Jan-June 2009; (% change)
1. Toiletries $4,964 (-0.2%)
2. Business & Services $4,480 (14.2%)
3. Foodstuff $3,869 (11.2%)
4. Beverages $3,749 (49.7%)
5. Pharmaceuticals $3,681 (9.4%)
Source: CTR Media Intelligence

Top 10 Brands (Advertiser), by Ad Spending, Jan-June 2009; (% change)
1. Wahaha (Chinese beverage), $418 (135.4%)
2. L'Oreal (L'Oreal), $408 (59.3%)
3. Olay (Procter & Gamble), $381 (-6.9%)
4. China Mobile (Chinese telecom), $378 (6.8%)
5. Sanjing (Chinese pharmaceutical), $346 (7.4%)
6. KFC (Yum Brands), $339 (32.7%)
7. Jiangzhong (Chinese pharmaceutical), $328 (147.6%)
8. Gaizhonggai (Chinese pharmaceutical), $291 (8.8%)
9. Master Kong (Chinese instant noodle), $286 (89.3%)
10. Yili (Chinese dairy), $284 (60.7%)
Source: CTR Media Intelligence

All figures are in US dollars
Figures are based on CTR Media Intelligence monitoring network across CTR measured media, including TV, newspaper, magazine, radio, outdoor (including subway)
The expenditure is based on rate cards without considering discounts and free advertisements
TV monitored period: 17:00-24:00
Exchange rate: 1 US$=6.83 RMB

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