Wow! It's Tsingtao - an exercise in rebranding

The IPKat found this piece in Shanghai Daily on the rebranding of Chinese beer Tsingtao. The article, by Hao Zhao, describes the pressures imposed by competition with foreign products when formerly privileged domestic manufacturers have to fight for a share of the market they once owned. It then reviews the branding and marketing options facing the Tsingtao Brewery.

In a dormant market in which product quality was the only issue, Tsingtao had no trouble selling its beer.

In what Zhao describes as "a bold and perhaps risky move" in a conservative market like China, Tsingtao has decided to instill emotional elements into its brand, employing the concept of "passion" in its attempt to target young people. To this end, a series of TV commercials and print ads were made (see left), emphasising the idea of "passion, energy and progress" with the tagline "passion makes your dream come true". The author adds:

"This new strategy is certainly a move in the right direction for at least two reasons. First, compared with foreign beer brands, Tsingtao does not command an advantage in quality, at least not in the consumer's mind. If consumers truly care about beer taste, they have many choices in the market. More importantly, quality is not a sustainable advantage in the long run. In fact, the brewing industry isn't really a high-tech one with non-replicable techniques. With many domestic breweries trying hard to improve quality, given time, the quality gap between Tsingtao and its domestic rivals may very well shrink or even disappear. In contrast, a position based on a distinct image is unique and will be less vulnerable to competitors mimicking its behaviour.

Right: this is how Tsingtao sought to appeal to beer drinkers in Hong Kong just a few years ago.
Second and most importantly, with overall beer quality rising, consumers have downplayed its importance when choosing brands. Nowadays, a transformation of values and lifestyles has affected consumer behaviour profoundly. ... Young people who care more about style, culture and image have become a major force in these markets. Their choices vary based on purchase timing, occasion, and personal feelings" (emphases added).

It appears to the IPKat that socialist values have effectively been jettisoned: choice of style, culture and image - assuming that they remain permitted by the authorities - are the surest proof yet that the real Chinese revolution is yet to come. Merpel says, don't be so sure. Where quality and other qualitative factors are removed from the consumer's choice, freedom to choose becomes a meaningless illusion, a sop to freedom.

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Latest MIP

The April 2006 issue of Euromoney's excellent Managing Intellectual Property is relatively skinny, at just 64 pages, which leaves the IPKat suspecting that the MIP Special for May, coming out for the INTA Meeting in Toronto, will be an absolute whopper.

Features in this issue include

* a review by editor James Nurton of the "Patent Crisis" and how it might be solved (Merpel says it all depends what you mean by a crisis - if you look at pate de fois gras, it's a crisis for the goose, but not for the ultimate consumer);

* a review of Spain's Community trade mark and design court in Alicante, by Alberto Casado Cervino (OHIM) and Fabrizio Miazetto (Bardehle Pagenberg);

* a triple feature on life sciences, taking in Canada, Mexico and India.

Left: life sciences - it all started with the Harvard mouse ...

Full details of this issue here
CHOICE IN CHINA; LATEST MIP CHOICE IN CHINA; LATEST MIP Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, April 09, 2006 Rating: 5

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