Cultural impact on international branding : a case of marketing Finnish mobile phones in China
Julkaistu sarjassaJyväskylä studies in communication
Hundreds of Finnish brands have been launched in China. How do the Chinese perceive these brands and think about the brand names in Chinese? Will the Chinese associate the images with Finland? And what is Finland in Chinese eyes? … In short, how to manage a brand in China? Finnish corporations usually practice three types of branding approaches. The first one is to keep every elements of the brand exactly the same as it in European market and only to substitute the original text with Chinese characters. Only a few companies apply this approach because people are more aware of the impact of cultural differences. Slogans, for example, may not have the same persuasive power and effectiveness in different cultures. The second approach, opposite to the first one, argues that everything shall be completely adapted to the local culture. “When in Rome do as Romans do.” This costs quite a lot. A middle way is to change wherever necessary and to keep whatever possible. Which approach is better? To have a globally standardized brand is a rosy dream, which implies closing eyes to obvious cultural differences. Even Coca-Cola, the best candidate for a global brand name, re-labels its “Diet Coke” with “Light Coke” in Europe where “diet” does not associate positively with soft drinks. The expensive localization erases original foreign images and degrades the imported goods into cheap domestic commodity market. The middle way sounds good, but, how to know what to change and keep? The doctoral dissertation in organization communication by Zhenyi Li at the University of Jyväskylä, titled “Cultural Impact on International Branding: A Case of Marketing Finnish Mobile Phones in China”, attempts to find the right way of branding Finnish products in China. A model of branding as communication is rationalized so that the marketer’s intention and consumers’ perceptions of the branding can be collected, categorized, and compared qualitatively, so that the effectiveness of branding can be evaluated. The model divides branding into three parts: product / service, brand name, and added values. This helps to diagnose branding problems. Based on interviews of 100 Chinese in 5 big Chinese cities, this study revealed that the Finnish product was wanted and positioned as imported goods from developed countries. The brand name, translated according to the Chinese naming practice, was not positively evaluated, because local people wanted to see a pure foreign brand image. The added value, which can be summarized as “individualism”, was either ignored or disfavored by the Chinese, who had lived for thousands of years in a value system, where “collectivism” was the core. Finland, which was not emphasized in the branding, had a positive image and most Chinese tended to associate the brand with the country-of-origin. The findings of this study can be generalized to other Western marketers too, although each product category makes each case particular. The model and methodology of this study, as well as the contribution of cultural communication in international marketing, can be applied to other contexts of intercultural marketing communication too. ...Satoja suomalaisia tuotteita ollaan markkinoimassa Kiinaan. Miten kiinalaiset käsittävät niiden suomalaisuuden ja mitä he ajattelevat tuotteiden kiinalaisista nimistä? Liittääkö kiinalainen niiden mielikuviin Suomea ja mitä Suomi merkitsee kiinalaisin silmin? Zhenyi Lin yhteisöviestinnän väitöskirjassa käsitellään kulttuurin merkitystä suomalaisten tuotteiden Kiinan-markkinoinnissa, esimerkkinä matkapuhelinten markkinointi. Tutkimuksen ydinkysymys on: miten tuotemerkki (brandi) pitäisi rakentaa Kiinassa.
JulkaisijaUniversity of Jyväskylä
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