I'm writing this while travelling on the Chancellor's business and culture delegation to China. The purpose is to grow stronger links with what will long remain the world's fastest-growing economy.
Both western and local companies will increasingly need good marketing data, which is why YouGov has established offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong and throughout the Asia Pacific region, along with very large online-representative consumer panels. And for this delegation, shared exclusively in this column, I have run a survey to see how well Britain is doing in China compared to some of our European rivals.
On culture, we score big: the key words that come to mind when asked to think about Britain are elegant, cultured and traditional. What’s more, over six in ten (63%) say they want to learn from the British, and be like one of us.
The most top-of-mind British brand is Burberry, followed by Rolls Royce and Bentley. When it comes to well-known figures, David Beckham is the most prominent, significantly ahead of the Queen and Winston Churchill.
Opportunities for British brands are clear. Two-thirds (66%) said they were either very or somewhat likely to purchase goods from British ecommerce websites. 77% believe that internationally renowned brands usually have better quality than local brands. Over half (52%) would also be interested in travelling to the UK within the next 12 months, with the University of Cambridge and Buckingham Palace the most desired destinations.
There are some areas in which the UK is being outshone by its European neighbours. When it comes to food companies, we are ranked 4th among five countries, as we are with alcoholic beverage brands. It is a slightly better result in the fashion stakes, 3rd in the list behind France and Italy. We competed best in financial services, where we are a close second, behind Germany. German products are commended for their excellence and their innovation, much more so than those from the UK.
So while there are positive signs for British brands that are looking to win this market on an increased scale, it’s clear that there is a way to go to ensure that they become leaders in their particular fields.