Emerging Markets Still Like US Brands

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Regardless of their political feelings, overseas consumers appreciate the quality that US brands offer, reported brandweek.com.

The United States' „brand” may not be very popular in most Saudi Arabian households, but Kraft cheese is. Likewise, Chinese beer drinkers like their Budweiser and Egyptians like to wash their hair with Pert Plus. Jack Daniel's is also the perfect thing to bring to a party in Romania. Those are some of the more surprising findings in a new study from Synovate, Chicago, in which more than 13,000 consumers in 20 countries were quizzed online, via phone or in person in mid-2006 about their brand preferences across a host of categories.

The study found 70% of consumers in developing countries, ranging from Argentina to the United Arab Emirates, felt local products aren't as good as international brands. „Branded international products are a mark of quality,” said Mike Sherman, executive director of customer insights for Synovate Asia, Hong Kong. „Even low-income consumers will pay a premium for a well-made, branded product.”

While 60% of respondents in emerging markets said they'd buy local products if they were the same price as an international offering, consumers often named brands like Avon, Coca-Cola and McDonald's as their preferred choice. „People in Chicago and New York are asking, 'Is branding relevant in developing markets where they have lower income?'„ said Sherman. „The answer is, 'Yes.' It motivates people to purchase products.” China, the premier emerging market, has a taste for not only Bud, but also Coke and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Safeguard soap is also very popular, as are Sony TVs.

„China was closed down for so long, that they have more of a nostalgic pull for all things American,” said Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y. „They have an affinity for America as it used to be so they are flocking to brands that are more past than present.” Adidas, Armani, Chivas Regal, Lipton, Maybelline, Shell and 7-Eleven are among the brands with more Western appeal to appear among the Chinese most-preferred brands. While some households in China's rural cities pull in as little as $600 per year, they may still have a state-of-the-art cell phone, said Sherman.

„Their cost of living is very low so they have the disposable income. They are savvy consumers.” In Indonesia, Coke, KFC, Panasonic cell phones and Sony TVs are among the top brands. Hungary likes Heineken, McDonald's and Samsung TVs. And Morocco prefers Mercedes, McDonald's and Nokia phones. Being able to purchase these brands „equates success,” said Celente. „They are aspirational. Where they're coming from, they've hit the big time when they purchase these brands. For some, it's not just the quality, it's a symbol of achieving the highest level of lifestyle success.”

Though generally poor by Western standards, Egyptian women will pay extra for laundry detergent that will make their children's clothes whiter, said Sherman. „It's a way to illustrate their love and affection for their family. This gives the more expensive detergent both a functional and emotional benefit.” Egyptians also have an affinity for Chevrolet, Pepsi, Lipton and Toshiba TVs. While Jack Daniel's consumers in Romania aren't drinking it because of the emotional value of the product, they are buying it „because of its brand image,” said Celente. „It's the power of advertising. Regardless of all the problems we have as a country, we are still looked to as the consumer capital of the world.”

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