), Adidas, and Samsung.
Small wonder, then, that Chinese computer maker Lenovo is thinking big a full two years before the torch is lit. Lenovo on Aug. 8 began its Olympic marketing blitz, launching a new line of desktop computers, called KaiTian, aimed at Olympic organizers and business executives alike.
A Lenovo ad campaign will soon appear in 200 countries, and the company is conducting an "Olympic & Lenovo Thousand County Tour" across the mainland to trumpet its ties to the sporting bonanza. "The brand will be a flag that leads the company as it goes forward, " says Lenovo Chairman Yang Yuanqing.
FOREIGN BRANDS. The PC maker may be the highest-profile example of China's emerging brand power, but it's far from the only one. Air China, China Mobile, telecom equipment maker ZTE, and dozens of other companies are in the vanguard of China's growing number of powerful brands. They hope to emerge as truly global players—dominant at home and strong enough to muscle in on consumer awareness abroad.
Yet the process is likely to be grueling, and full of fits and starts. The truth is, foreign brands still have a strong pull on the purse strings of mainland consumers. General Motors (GM
), Volkswagen, Toyota (TM
), Nissan (NSANY
), and Honda (HMC
) control about 80% of the mainland auto market. China remains heavily dependent on foreign technology, and Nokia, Motorola (MOT
), and Samsung are immensely popular with Chinese mobile phone users.
BRAND VALUE. Dozens of Chinese companies suffer mightily from a capacity overhang. That cuts into the profitability of their brands, crimping resources that could be spent on product innovation and big-ticket marketing campaigns.
To get a sense of which Chinese products and services are really clicking with consumers, BusinessWeek China teamed up with global consultancy Interbrand for our first annual study of the 20 best Chinese brands. Interbrand evaluates brands much the way securities analysts value assets: on the basis of how much they generate in profits and what they are likely to earn in the future.