‘Made in China’ products and gadgets have invaded European and American homes. Is China becoming the world’s innovator in consumer electronics? Club China asked Laure de Carayon, founder of China Connect, for the answer to this question.
China Connect is the largest gathering of experts on Chinese consumer trends, marketing, digital and mobile in Europe, to be held on March 5-6, Paris. Laure de Carayon: “If you want proof of the impact of government policy to promote and stimulate innovation in an economy, do not look further than China. Year after year, the patent application filings volumes experienced double-digit growth, according to Thomson Reuters. The Chinese domestic innovation is first based and driven by government initiatives to bring out the creativity of Chinese companies and lay the foundation for a knowledge economy, rather than manufacturing. For the first time since the launch of Thomson Reuters’ Top 100 Global Innovators, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China, dominate the landscape of innovation. China has expanded its R&D to all companies working tax credit in key areas of technology.”
‘Made in China’ more sophisticated
“In short: ‘Made in China’ is becoming more sophisticated. And if the first generation of Chinese tech start-ups typically involved internet and copies of Western websites, however, the second one follows the explosion of China’s online consumption and mobile economy: we see crowd funding take off, along with taxi booking apps, health and finance apps. We also witnessed the launch of WeBank , the first online private bank, majority owned (30%) by Tencent.”
Vegas: all top Chinese brands present
“In this regard, the latest Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in January, was another ‘eye-opener’. All the top Chinese mobility, television, household appliances and computer brands were present, from ZTE, Huawei, Alibaba, Hisense, TCL, Lenovo, Haier, Changhong, the Great Wall, BOE and Xiaomi, and won top awards: Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone maker after Apple and Samsung, and ZTE Mobile Devices, have each received four IDG (International Data Group) awards at the ceremony of ‘Global Top Brands Awards’. The Chinese took home top awards in the ‘Global Smart Connected Devices Top 10’, ‘Global Top 10 Smart Phones’ and of ‘Global Top 50 Consumer Electronic Brands’.
“ZTE is working hard to change the stereotype that a Chinese brand is cheap and of low quality”, said Waiman Lam, ZTE’s senior director for mobile technology and partnership. ZTE has exported 48 million smartphones in 2014, and plans to export 60 million for 2015, making progress in markets such as the US, Asia Pacific and Europe, and also sells more smartphones in the US, than Sony or Nokia.”
“China’s Premier Li Keqiang committed himself to promote entrepreneurship. However, this is a relatively new concept, and traditional Chinese culture is still influenced by Confucian values, such as respect for authority, not naturally compatible with the typical entrepreneurial values. Beyond the need for a major educational program, successful entrepreneurs like Jack Ma (Alibaba), “Pony” Ma Huateng (Tencent), Robin Li (Baidu), or more recently Lei Jun (Xiaomi), who contributed to the economic transformation of the country, influence and participate in the momentum.”
According to Interbrand, there is only one weakness in the rise of China’s new consumer electronics products, Laure de Carayon states: “There is a gap in the authenticity, relevancy and differentiation areas, compared to the most influential and powerful global brands in the world. Reducing this gap quickly is the number one goal for the Chinese brands in search of recognition. We will have to wait for 2016’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show to see how fast the Chinese are learning in this particular area.”