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Showing posts with label Branding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Branding. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Genuine and Not So Genuine: Baltimore Ravens Boxer Shorts and Other NFL Items for Sale in China

Jingyou Mall portion of the Zhuhai Port Plaza
A small portion of the vast Zhuhai Port Plaza


Hundreds of stalls in the underground Zhuhai Port Plaza shopping center in front of the Gongbei Port immigration checkpoint in Zhuhai, China, sell a wide variety of clothing. Yesterday I saw an unexpected item there which reminded me of where I last lived in the U.S. — Baltimore, Maryland.

Baltimore Ravens boxer shorts for sale in the Zhuhai Port Plaza
Assorted underwear and sleepwear for sale


A young saleswoman said the boxer shorts with the logo of the Baltimore Ravens, a National Football League team, cost 25 RMB (about U.S. $3.90). Although bargaining would likely lead to a lower price, the shorts are already much cheaper than any similar items for sale on the Baltimore Ravens official online store. Obvious imitation products are plentiful at many shops in the market, so it is easy to believe these boxer shorts aren't entirely legitimate.

In regards to counterfeit Baltimore Ravens merchandise coming from China, a few years ago the Baltimore Sun quoted the NFL's vice president of legal affairs as saying "If you're buying merchandise from a China-based website, you're probably not getting the real thing". But the claim doesn't appear to be as true anymore, since the NFL now has a store on Alibaba's Tmall.com which is referenced on the the NFL's website for China.

main page for the NFL store on Tmall
NFL store on Tmall


A Ravens hat currently sells there at nearly a 50% discount for 158 RMB (about U.S. $24.80), not very different from the same hat's current discounted price of $22.99 on the NFL's U.S. online store.

New Era Baltimore Ravens Training 39THIRTY Flex Hat for sale on Tmall
New Era Baltimore Ravens Training 39THIRTY Flex Hat for sale on Tmall


The Ravens page at the NFL Tmall store doesn't list any other items. The store offers five items with the logos of the Ravens' biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, though.

Items for sale listed on the Pittsburgh Steelers page at the NFL Tmall store
Items for sale on the Pittsburgh Steelers page at the NFL Tmall store


At least the Ravens can take heart in the fact I didn't see boxer shorts for any other NFL teams at the shop in Zhuhai.

But the Ravens and the NFL shouldn't look at the shorts themselves as necessarily a sign of growing popularity in China. It is not uncommon for people in China to wear clothing with logos more familiar elsewhere simply for their look without concern for their full meaning. Although there are indications the NFL's relatively small fanbase is growing in China, I very rarely meet anyone familiar with it, sharply contrasting with widespread recognition of the NBA. Likely similar to most people in China, the saleswoman didn't know the meaning of the logo. Nor she she seem to care in the least when I informed her of its connection to an NFL team in the U.S. Nonetheless, if the Baltimore Ravens later notice a fan base unexpectedly growing in Zhuhai, these shorts may be where it all began.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Uncle Sam Wants Some Students from Hengyang

When I visited the University of South China in Hengyang earlier this year, I was surprised to see a familiar uncle.

Poster with Uncle Sam and the words "I WANT YOU!" on a chain-linked fence

But Uncle Sam wasn't recruiting people for the U.S. Army Instead, the poster claimed to be advertising paid internships available in the U.S.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mixing It Up In China: The Ice Stone Creamery Sells Ice Cream With a Familiar Look

U.S.-based Cold Stone Creamery opened its first mainland China ice cream store near People's Square in Shanghai in 2007. Many more Cold Stone stores have since opened elsewhere in Shanghai and also Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Tianjin, and Wuxi.

Recently during a walk, I was surprised to see their reach had spread to Zhongshan, Guangdong province, as well. The first time I briefly saw the store, though, something seemed off. When I passed by another time, it hit me. Despite the outside resemblance, the store wasn't actually a Cold Stone Creamery.

Ice Stone Creamery shop (酷石客冰淇淋料理专家 ) in Zhongshan, China


The name of the Ice Stone Creamery store isn't all that seems to have been inspired by the Cold Stone Creamery. Here is the logo for the Cold Stone Creamery in China:

Cold Stone Creamery China logo


The ice cream logos for Cold Stone and Ice Stone aren't exactly the same, but, like the names, the resemblance is rather remarkable. I could recognize the difference only after a direct comparison.

Ice Stone Creamery appears to have an account on Sina Weibo — a Chinese online service roughly equivalent to Facebook and Twitter.

中山Leonidas酷石客 Sina Weibo account page


Curiously, "Leonidas" takes the place of "Ice Stone Creamery" in its name, although "Ice Stone" can be seen in some posted photos. The most recent post, which is from September, 2013, shows a photo of the store I saw before it opened at the Central Power Plaza shopping mall. The account also mentions other locations in Zhongshan.

After recognizing the store for what it was, I felt compelled to give it a try to see how it compared.

inside the Ice Stone Creamery (酷石客冰淇淋料理专家 ) shop at Central Power Plaza shopping mall


In response to my questioning, the server proudly told me they were a local Zhongshan store. They offered a variety of flavors such as cantaloupe, chocolate, coconut, cookie, cranberry, durian, and green tea. For 18 RMB (about U.S. $2.88) I ordered a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Unlike the Cold Stone Creamery, the chocolate chips were already in the ice cream and other toppings were offered only after the ice cream was in a cup.

a cup of Ice Stone Creamery's mint chip ice cream


As I sat down with my ice cream (sans additional toppings), the remarkable placement of a trademark symbol next to the Ice Stone Creamery logo on the cup reminded me of a 7-Eleven lookalike store in Guizhou. But what I was most interested in was the taste of the ice cream, so I quickly dug in. And the taste truly puzzled me. It was difficult to notice any mint flavor and identify what I could taste. A few more not-especially-creamy spoonfuls left me rather disappointed, so I tossed the rest — something I rarely do with ice cream in China (or anywhere).

Last year, an American visited an Ice Stone store at another location in Zhongshan and had a different experience:
The ice cream was great though! It came with toppings, a waffle cone and all! We will DEFINITELY be going back there again.
So perhaps I would have better luck with another flavor or Ice Stone store. Or perhaps Ice Stone hasn't maintained the quality of its ice cream. Or perhaps the person has a very different perspective on ice cream. I don't know. Whatever the case, like with the McDonald's Year of Fortune Burgers, I don't feel especially motivated to give Ice Stone's ice cream a second try.

I don't know whether Cold Stone is aware of Ice Stone and whether there is much it has done or can do from a legal perspective. But I do know that I will later have more to share from China about other imitators and, thankfully, better ice cream.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Women's Day at a Warground in China

Despite it being five days since the official public holiday, today I saw a remaining indication of International Women's Day in China: a sale at a War Ground store in Zhongshan, Guangdong province.

Warground store in Zhongshan with a Happy Women's Day sale sign

The number 3.8 on the "Happy Women's Day" sign at the store not only represents the date of International Women's Day but also indicates select items have been discounted to 38% of their original price.

War Ground is based in nearby Dongguan*, and a number of stores sell its military-themed clothing. On prominent display at the store in Zhongshan was a shirt with American and British flags. War Ground's website currently includes a variety of photos that, like some of its clothing, include a Western theme to some degree (for example, here and here). One set appearing in a rotation of images especially caught my attention.

partial screenshot of Warground website with images of and American flag and people wearing camouflage clothing accompanied by the text "No. 1 Pearl Harbor Hawaii"

As evidenced by the Pabst Blue Ribbon World War II memorial beer I saw in Hengyang, this is not the first time I have seen references to the U.S. role in World War II on commercial products in China.

And similar to an image of a U.S. flag in an English-learning mobile app I also saw in Hengyang, one of the images in War Ground's Pearl Harbor set appears to be a cropped version of an image posted elsewhere: in this case a photo taken by Daly Sorvongsavanh posted under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license.

U.S. flag at Pearl Harbor
Photo by Daly Sorvongsavanh; See here for original and rights reserved.

War Ground's use of the photo doesn't appear to respect any of the license's main conditions**, but it's possible they have received Sorvongsavanh's permission directly.

Whatever the case, I doubt the Women's Day sale at War Ground will last much longer. And I would be surprised if they have a sale for China's next official public holiday.




*The War Ground website lists 美林(香港)投资发展有限公司 as the owner of the brand and the website. Based on the name, this company appears to be connected with Merrill Lynch Far East Limited in Hong Kong, but I did not find confirmation.

**Whether the cropped version of the photo should be considered a violation of "no derivatives" is debatable though.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New York's Staten Island Yankees Make an Appearance in a Shanghai Ad

At the Metro City shopping mall in Shanghai I saw an advertisement for MLB (Major League Baseball) clothing. This didn't surprise me, especially since I had recently seen a MLB store in another Shanghai mall. The advertisement highlighted the Yankees. This also didn't surprise me. I have lately noticed more people in China wearing clothing with the New York Yankees "NY" logo.

But one part of the advertisement did surprise me. Below the familiar New York Yankees logos were the words "Yankees — Staten Island".

advertisement in Shanghai for MLB clothing with the New York Yankees logo above a logo for the Staten Island Yankees

Staten Island is one of New York City's five boroughs, but the New York Yankees have a storied history in another borough, The Bronx. A baseball team might move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, but a move from The Bronx to Staten Island was hard to imagine.

Indeed, the New York Yankees remain in The Bronx. However, Staten Island is home to a minor league baseball team — the Staten Island Yankees. Nicknamed the "Baby Bombers", they are an affiliate of the New York Yankees. They don't use the "NY" logo and instead have their own cap logo.

The Staten Island Yankees cap logo (source)

Given the New York Yankees enjoy far greater recognition and the clothes in the advertisement had the "NY" logo, it seems likely that the Staten Island Yankees reference was simply a case of confused identities and may fit into the category "a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous".

Or not so dangerous . . .

Like other similar apparent mistakes I have seen in China, it may not have much effect locally. In other Chinese cities, such as Hengyang in Hunan province, I have spoken with people wearing clothes with the "NY" logo. Often, they said they didn't even know it represented an American baseball team, let alone a team in The Bronx. So the Staten Island reference in this case may not impact many people's perceptions or purchases. More interesting to me than a measure of American baseball knowledge in China, the mistake could be another hint that a seemingly seemingly obvious explanation, interest in the New York Yankees baseball team, does not best account for increasing numbers of people in China wearing Yankees-themed clothing. This touches on some bigger issues which I will return to in the future.

But who knows, perhaps I got part of this wrong, and the Staten Island Yankees have a significant number of fans in Shanghai. Stranger things have happened. Just ask people in New York. In that case, the Baby Bombers sending Scooter the "Holy Cow" to China as a sports ambassador might be a "better-than-dandy" idea.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Chinese Hair Accessory Brand With a Genuine Name

Like the Chinese clothing brand Weles, a Chinese brand of hair accessories with stores in a number of Chinese cities indicates its products are also sold outside of China in places such as Europe and the U.S. Unlike Weles, what attracted me to the brand was not a slogan. Instead, my interest in puns caused me to appreciate the non-Chinese name of 斐卡瑞 (Fěikǎruì) when I passed one of its stores in Shanghai.

storefront signs with the hair accessory brand name "Fayekerry"

Whether or not the pun was intended, if any of their products appeal to you, a list of their stores should help you find a genuine Fayekerry in China.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Women's Clothing Brand Acting Its Role in China

Weles (威兰西) is a Chinese women's clothing brand based in Fujian province. What first caused me to take a closer look at Weles was a sign hanging inside a department store in Hengyang, Hunan.

Banner ad for Weles (威兰西) with the advertising slogan 'Act my role" hanging inside a department store in Hengyang, China

I am still pondering the advertising slogan "Act my role".

Whatever meaning one finds in the slogan, according to Weles the brand's name was inspired by the American actor and director Orson Welles. And the Weles website currently features images of a Caucasian female and includes nonfunctional icons for several online services popular elsewhere but blocked in China—Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

screen capture of photos of a woman and icons for social media on the Weles website
source

Weles appears to want to project a Western image and at least imply it is known in Western markets. It certainly would not be the only Chinese brand with such goals—a topic I will touch on again in the future.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Great Wall and the New M&M's World in Shanghai

entrance to M&M's World in Shanghai

A two-story M&M's World recently opened along Shanghai's popular Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street. A press release stated:
M&M’s is the world’s biggest chocolate brand and a popular and growing brand in China and across Asia. The brand, in partnership with Mars Retail Group, which operates the M&M’s World stores across the globe, selected Shanghai as the ideal city for the first M&M’s World store in Asia, due to the city’s truly global feel and appeal. The location in the Brilliance Shimao International Plaza made perfect sense for the world’s biggest chocolate brand, as East Nanjing Road is the busiest pedestrian street in China and a highly visited tourist destination in Shanghai.
In addition to M&M's chocolate candies, the store sells a wide variety of M&M themed goods.

hat and children's clothes for sale at M&M's World in Shanghai

phone cases for sale at M&M's World in Shanghai


And staff offer their assistance for the numerous photographic opportunities which beckon.

M&M's World staff taking a photo of customers with an M&M's character in Shanghai


During my visit on a Wednesday afternoon, the store was not packed but had a steady stream of visitors. Despite all of the attractions, though, a few people appeared less-than-captivated.

two young men staring out a window while crouched at the M&M's World in Shanghai

man sleeping at the M&M's World in Shanghai


Of particular interest to me were the store's localizations for the Shanghai market—such as the Shanghai-themed shirts, Chinese lanterns, and M&M's characters in panda costumes.

M&M's Shanghai shirt at the M&M's World in Shanghai

colored Chinese lanterns with an M&M's logo

M&M's character in a panda costume


One stood out above the rest, and with mixed emotions I can now say I have seen the "Great Wall of Chocolate".

The Great Wall of Chocolate at the M&M's World in Shanghai

Regardless of the wall's apparent popularity, only time will tell for sure whether the store has lasting power similar to a more famous wall in China or faces the same fate as a Shanghai Barbie store.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

SpongeBob SquarePants Street Food in Changde

During my brief time in Changde, Hunan province, not only did I notice a hot pot restaurant with golden arches similar to the McDonald's logo, but I also saw a mobile food stall with another touch of American culture.

motorized tricycle food cart with a SpongeBob SquarePants umbrella

The umbrella promoted a Chinese brand of milk products for children — Mengniu's "Weilaixing" (未来星). I didn't ask how the umbrella made its way there, and such seeming mismatches are not a rare sight in China. Given the sole item being sold, I was mostly just attracted to the idea of SpongeBob SquarePants stinky tofu.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Hot Pot Restaurant in China with the Golden Arches

In Changde, Hunan province, I was not surprised to see a sign with the well-known logo of a American fast food restaurant chain.

McDonald's sign in Changde, Hunan

I was also not surprised that a busy McDonald's could be found next to the sign.

I was a bit surprised, though, to see only a short walk away a similar looking logo on a sign for the restaurant Moguofang (魔锅坊).

sign for Moguofang using a logo similar to McDonald's


The restaurant, located in an underground shopping center, also sported the familiar-looking logo on its storefront sign.

storefront sign for Moguofang using a logo similar to McDonald's

Moguofang's golden arches aren't exactly the same as the Golden Arches, but I doubt most people would be aware of any difference without directly comparing them. At least the apparently inspired-by-McDonald's restaurant, Wichael Alone, that I previously saw on a trip to Wuzhou had flipped the arches. The Moguofang example reminds me more of a restaurant in Shanghai with a logo similar to the one for Google+.

Moguofang is a restaurant chain and the questionable logo doesn't appear in any photos I have found online of its locations in cities such as Changsha and Shanghai. The logo also doesn't appear on the website for Moguofang. So it is possible the logo is just a local inspiration.

Finally, no, you can't buy a Big Mac at Moguofang. But if you want a spicy hot pot, then you are in luck. Try asking for a McHotpot.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Google+ and g+ The Urban Harvest in China

Google+, like most of Google's other online services, remains blocked in China.

This is the secondary logo for Google+:

secondary logo for Google+

g+ The Urban Harvest is not blocked in China and will soon open another location in Shanghai at the popular Grand Gateway 66 shopping mall.

This is their sign at the mall when I recently passed by:

sign for The Urban Harvest with a green logo very similar to the Google+ logo

Described on Time Out Shanghai as "equal parts open lab and restaurant", g+ The Urban Harvest states on Shanghai WOW!, "we believe that freshness and sustainability play key roles in maintaining a healthy and natural lifestyle". According to company's website, which at the moment is largely nonfunctional, the "g+" stands for "Green Plus".

This is not the only time in China "g+" or "g plus" has been used as part of a name for a business, including some which existed prior to Google+. For example, the now-closed Club G Plus opened in 2006 in Shanghai and used "G+" in its logos.

G+ logo for Club G Plus in Shanghai

Nonetheless, the similarity of the g+ The Urban Harvest logo and the Google+ logo is remarkable. I can't add much more to this tale, but for more information about the restaurant you could download the Urban Harvest app on iTunes.

screen shot of iTunes page for the Urban Harvest app

Unsurprisingly, they don't appear to offer an app on Google Play.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mr. Bean Furniture in China

At a large furniture mall in Changde, Hunan, this store especially caught my attention:

No. 1 Lovely Bean (小憨豆) store in Changde, Hunan

Mr. Bean can be appreciated for more than just the humor he provides, and the furniture store's branding raises issues about how Mr. Bean is perceived in China. It was not the first time I have seen a No. 1 Lovely Bean (小憨豆) store in China. The company (成都雄峰家具有限公司) is based in Chengdu, Sichuan, and they have shared photos of their team conducting assorted activities, perhaps in team or Mr. Bean spirit. You can learn more about the company on its website (in Chinese).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hengyang's Happy Zone

Many people in the world seek a happy zone. I had the pleasure to pass by one today near Lianhu Square in Hengyang, Hunan province.

Happy Zone (开心地带) in Hengyang, Hunan

I didn't go inside Happy Zone, which I believe is an Internet cafe, but simply seeing the name brought me a bit of happiness. In case you are wondering, the English name is a direct translation of its Chinese name 开心地带 (Kāixīn Dìdài).

If Hengyang is too far away to visit, even for a zone of happiness, perhaps other establishments with the Happy Zone name, both offering karaoke, in New York and Houston are closer to you.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Numerical Bart Simpson Snack Store in Hengyang

A local chain store with a notable sign in Hengyang, Hunan, sells a variety of snack foods, many imported.

527 零食汇 store sign with image of Bart Simpson's head

The use of Bart Simpson's image on the sign raises the common issue of trademark and copyright infringement in China. And the store's name, 527 零食汇, highlights how technology has influenced the use of numbers in Chinese language. In Chinese, the numbers 5-2-7 are a near-homophone for the phrase "I love to eat". Combined with the first two Chinese characters, the sign reads "I love to eat snacks". For more about how technology has influenced the adoption of numbers for expressing Chinese language, see the piece "The Secret Messages Inside Chinese URLs".

I took a quick look inside the store. I didn't see any snacks I wanted at the time, but due to the hot weather I was especially happy to pick up a brand of bottled water I would not expect to find in Hengyang.

Bottle of Vita pure distilled water

Vita bottled water is from Hong Kong and, like other products from the Special Administrative Region, would typically be considered an import. I doubt I could distinguish it in a taste test, but, like the image of Bart Simpson, the branding connected me to a far away place.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Street Food and KFC: New Orleans Roasted Chicken in Hunan

In Hengyang, Hunan province, I have frequently passed a street food vendor who sells roasted chicken.

chicken cooking at a New Orleans Roast Chicken food stall
A chicken leg costs 5 yuan (about U.S. $0.80). Most of a small chicken costs 15 yuan.

The sign below the rotating chickens advertises "新奥尔良烤鸡"--"New Orleans Roasted Chicken". It may come as a surprise to New Orleanians that their city has received this type of attention in Hengyang. But like roasted chicken vendors, "New Orleans style" chicken is not unique to Hengyang in China. For example, it is easy to find marinades for sale online. It is also offered at a popular fast food restaurant chain: KFC.

New Orleans Roasted Burger (新奥尔良烤鸡腿堡)
A KFC New Orleans Roasted Burger costs 16.5 yuan. (Image source)

Despite their names, after seeing or tasting them, neither the street vendor's roasted chicken nor KFC's roasted chicken sandwich would have made me think of New Orleans on their own. And I don't see anything very similar to them in lists of "New Orleans' most iconic sandwiches" or "great roasted chickens" in New Orleans. When I think of New Orleans, chicken, and fast food, another American fast food chain first comes to mind though--Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. The only Popeye's in all of China is at the Hong Kong International Airport.

The roasted chicken vendor and KFC are related in another way: one of KFC's over 4,000 restaurants in China is located directly behind the roasted chicken vendor's usual location.

New Orleans Roast Chicken food stall in front of a KFC
Perfect location

I don't know what KFC thinks of this, but chengguan could be a bigger concern for the vendor. And even if nobody believes the food vendor is directly connected to KFC, I wonder if the vendor's location may cause KFC's brand to positively influence customers' perceptions, similar to the potential effects of imitating well-known brand names.

Whatever the case, perhaps the street vendor could further distinguish himself by diversifying his offerings based on the New Orleans theme. Personally, I would hope for muffulettas, but I suspect something from Popeyes menu with its spicy fried chicken would far better suit people's tastes in Hengyang and elsewhere in Hunan.

Friday, May 9, 2014

An Easy-to-Identify Knockoff Chanel Shirt in China

Knockoffs of well-known international clothing brands are a far more common sight in China than imitations of well-known international hotel brands. Just how common is not simple to pin down though. Depending on the degree and quality of the imitation, it can be challenging to identify knockoffs based purely on their appearance, especially if one is not familiar with the brands. For example, today in Hengyang, Hunan province, I saw someone wearing what appeared to be a Chanel shirt.

young woman in China wearing a possible knockoff Chanel shirt

After a quick check of Chanel's website, I now see that the shape of the two interlocked letters in the logo seems less circular than the interlocked letters in Chanel's standard logo, but I am still not sure whether the shirt is a knockoff or not. I would not be surprised if Chanel could provide a very quick answer.

In contrast, there are other shirts I feel confident labeling as knockoffs even without checking a website or consulting a fashion expert. For example, also today in Hengyang, I saw someone wearing a shirt with what is clearly only an imitation of Chanel's brand.

woman in China wearing a shirt with an imitation of Chanel's logo and the word 'FAKE'

As everyone knows, the interlocked letters in Chanel's logo don't have rounded ends. Sometimes it is so easy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Brand Names Can Set Expectations Even for Known Imitators in China

In an article in The New York Times about the imitation of well-known international brand names in China's hotel industry (HT Helen Gao), Julie Weed shared a viewpoint from one international hotel:
“We do take steps to protect our brand, " said Sian Griffiths, director of communications for the Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel. “However, we also feel that our target customers are sufficiently discerning not to confuse the Peninsula-branded hotels with the copycats.”
But an example Weed shares shows why The Peninsula Hotels may still have reason for concern:
Li Quan, a pharmaceutical sales representative traveling on business this week in Shanghai, said he knew the Hengsheng Peninsula International Hotel was not part of the international Peninsula chain, but believed it would be an “upscale hotel because of the obvious name resemblance.”

He was disappointed to find “so-so facilities and worse-than-average service,” and said that some domestic hotels tried “to boost their value and brand awareness by sharing names with other reputable hotel chains so they can achieve a make-believe attachment to those hotels.”
Using similar logic as Li, people may also buy mobile phones, such as the iPncne I saw in Yinchuan, even if they are recognized as imitating a well-known international brand. Several years ago in a post about how local rates, fashion, and fakes are relevant to mobile phones in China I shared a relevant example from Shuolong, Guangxi:
Her dream phone was a Nokia. Not because of any concerns regarding fashion but because she believed it would be very reliable and rugged. However, a real Nokia phone was not a possibility given their relatively high price so she wanted to get a fake Nokia phone since it would be cheaper.

Unlike many other examples I've seen of purchasing fake products, her choice of a fake Nokia versus other relatively inexpensive options did not appear to be driven by how others around her would perceive the product. It was about her own internal expectations for what the product could provide to her based on its name - even though it would be a fake.
The hotel and mobile phone examples show if brand X's name is used in some way by an known imitator in China, people can have an expectation that an X-ish level of quality or type of experience will be delivered. If the imitator is then chosen, those expectations may positively color later perceptions, or they may draw attention to any shortcomings. That brand names can have such powerful carryover effects for known imitators is yet another sign of their value.

Surely this effect is not limited to only hotels and mobile phones. And it is one reason why customers' being able to distinguish genuine from imitation isn't necessarily enough for a company to avoid losing business to its imitators.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Starbucks Experience on a Zhanjiang Student's Mobile Phone

While meeting the students at Zhanjiang Normal University who, to varying degrees, were cleaning up a grassy area, I saw that one student's mobile phone had a notable image prominently featured.

female Chinese university student holding a Samsung mobile phone displaying a photograph of two drinks in Starbucks cups

I found it notable partly because Zhanjiang does not have any Starbucks stores. But the photo represents a genuine Starbucks experience, something I suspect both the student and Starbucks appreciate, and she took the photo at one of the many Starbucks in Shenzhen, where her family lives.

At least for the moment, the photo likely sets her apart from many other students at her university. But soon they and the girl I saw wearing the Starbucks Gangnam Style shirt will have more of an opportunity to have their own genuine experience when a new Starbucks opens in Zhanjiang. I would not be surprised if the occasion leaves a mark on many other mobile phones.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Supernaturally Good Bottled Water in Zhanjiang

Va Kin spring water, which uses the name 画景  in Chinese, is from the county-level city of Leizhou in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province. Earlier today in Zhanjiang's Xiashan District, I noticed a large outdoor advertisement for Va Kin in a central shopping district:

advertisement for Va Kin (画景) spring water including an image of a ghost woman coming out of a TV screen and trying to take away a bottle of water from a frightened woman

I'm not sure why the ghost coming out of the television screen is so interested in bottled water, but the text helpfully recommends giving her the water and points out you can simply buy another at a store. That may seem reasonable, but, personally, if a specific brand of bottled water attracted this type of attention, I would consider buying something else next time. I also know something else I would do.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The OMG Bar in Yangjiang, China

One day while walking around Yangjiang in Guangdong province, I noticed a bar with an unusual name.

OMG Bar in Yangjiang, China

Later, without making any comment I showed the above photo to several young Yangjiangers of drinking age. They all recognized that "OMG" is an abbreviation for "Oh My God", and most thought it was a creative and good name for a bar.

I don't have anything deeper to add at the moment--just a "and now you know" post.