Britain must up its game to get a reputation made in China

January 08, 2014, 9:49 AM GMT+0

YouGov CEO, Stephan Shakespeare assesses China's perception of Britain.

On an official trade mission to China last October, George Osborne declared that he was staggered by the progress and can-do attitude of the Chinese, and warned that Britain needs to “up our game” if we’re to compete.

New research from YouGov in China shows this to be true, with perceptions of British-made products and brands lagging behind that of our competitors.

In a survey of China’s online population, we asked respondents to tell us the top three associations they have with products and services from various countries. For British products and services, Chinese internet users’ top three associations are high quality (38 per cent), classic (37 per cent), and fashionable (32 per cent) – by no means a poor showing.

But when we ask about German products the reviews are far better, with 63 per cent saying high quality, and 58 per cent reliable or well made. Meanwhile, France’s reputation for style meant the top three terms associated with French products are fashionable (59 per cent), great design (42 per cent) and stylish (29 per cent).

Turning to BrandIndex, YouGov’s brand perception tracker, we can see which brands rank most highly with Chinese consumers.

German automakers BMW, Audi and Volkswagen are all in the top 20, as is quintessentially French luxury brand Chanel. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, British brands don’t fare so well. Land Rover and Jaguar have both made an effort to break into the Chinese markets, but out of 321 brands they rank 52nd and 156th, respectively.

In China’s cities the average disposable income per capita has increased by 30 per cent since 2010; people have more money to spend than ever before. As the chancellor said, if British business wants to benefit from this then we’ve got to up our game.

This article originally appeared in CityAm