Chinese nationalism and its impact on brands

7 November, 2008


Shanghai – Ogilvy Group China & Millward Brown ACSR China have recently published a study on “Nationalism”. Entitled Chinese Nationalism and Its Impact on Brands, the study underlines the importance of the internet in spreading opinions and creating mass movements – resulting in the nationalistic fervour among Chinese people. For brands, this is a challenge that they must respond to.

Led by Ogilvy & Mather Great China’s consumer insights and trends unit, Discovery, the quantitative study was conducted by Millward Brown ACSR soon after the Wenchuan earthquake – between May 26 and June 6, 2008, using Lightspeed Research’s online panel. The respondents were 900 Chinese citizens between the ages 16-45, distributed over nine tier one and tier two cities – Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Xi’an, Nanjing, Hefei, Hangzhou and Shenyang. Simultaneously, weblogs and BBSs (bulletin boards) were mined by Ogilvy Public Relation’s 360°Digital Influence Group to get a feeling of the nationalist sentiment.

The study explored:
  • How important a role would ‘country of origin’ play in the choice of brands that consumers made?
  • Would the feeling of nationalism translate into profits for Chinese companies?
  • Was there anything at all that companies could do when faced with an army of 25 million bloggers?
  • Was there a way for multinational companies to channelize a Chinese nationalism in their favour without alienating their Western customers?

“The term “Nationalism” has been a recurrent theme in political, social and business coverage of China, and thus became the focus of our study,” said Kunal Sinha, Executive Director of Discovery, Ogilvy & Mather Greater China.” With the Olympics at the center-stage, the events in Tibet and the Sichuan earthquake have combined to unleash a nationalistic sentiment. From a corporate communications or crisis management point-of-view, it is important for companies to be prepared.”

Shenan Chuang, CEO of Ogilvy Group China commented,” The implications of the study are deep and far reaching. It allows marketers and brand planners to take a deeper look into Chinese people and culture and helps to avoid risk. The impact of Chinese nationalism on brands will surely be an invaluable source of insight for our clients who desire greater marketing and communications effectiveness in China.”

Jason Spencer, Managing Director of Millward Brown ACSR, Shanghai commented, “In what will surely be seen as a watershed year for China, it is fitting this study looks at the role of nationalism in the consumer landscape in China. For a subject that has received a lot of press in recent months it is refreshing to see a measured analysis of the situation that takes into account a broader understanding of the socio-cultural context and highlights clear implications for marketers in terms of the use of the Internet, country provenance and the way in which different categories of products and services can prosper in a sometimes fluid environment. As a China optimist it is also heartening to see some validation that Chinese consumers are perhaps some of the most pragmatic in the world.”


About Ogilvy Group China
Ogilvy Group China is the largest marketing communications network in China. It offers the full range of marketing communication disciplines including advertising, direct marketing, interactive media, database management, public relations, graphic design, and related marketing disciplines. As Brand Stewards, the agency works to leverage the brands of its clients by combining local know-how with a worldwide network, creating powerful campaigns that address local market needs while still reinforcing the same universal brand identity. Ogilvy & Mather integrates these communications disciplines using its proprietary 360 Degree Brand Stewardship process, which holds that every point of contact builds the brand.

About Millward Brown ACSR
Millward Brown is the global leader in advertising, media, marketing communications and brand equity research. Millward Brown is rated amongst the top 10 largest research agencies in the world. Millward Brown ACSR is the leading provider of research advice behind the most successful brands in China. Millward Brown ACSR China has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It has the largest data collection network in Greater China.

For more information, please contact:
Diana Wang
Corporate Communications
Tel: (86 21) 2405-1642

Acrobat Document ogilvy_millward_pressrelease_china_nov08_guidbd79e.pdf


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