There is no doubt that some of the world’s best known and most valuable brands have taken much of their inspiration from their biggest competitors. The growing profile of south-east Asian companies has brought this into focus – they avoid creating and developing original brands for fear of being ripped-off, such is the lack of IP protection in countries such as China. In these emerging economies, there is also greater consumer loyalty to established and familiar global brands. This is because of the relative lack of shopping experience of the south-east Asian consumer, meaning they are less familiar with ‘own-label’ or ‘retailer’ offerings.
This is in stark contrast to consumers in the UK or other ‘western’ countries. The power of retailers combined with the experienced consumer means own label is the norm, with many becoming ‘brands’ in their own right. ‘Finest’ from Tesco or ‘No7’ from Boots are great examples of this.
Consequently, despite having less income, consumers in emerging markets are actually more brand loyal. Companies such as Li Ning, the biggest Chinese sportswear company, appear to have taken inspiration from two of their more established competitors, Nike and Adidas. Their logo is strikingly similar to Nike, while their slogan ‘Nothing is impossible!’ is effectively the same as Adidas’ ‘Impossible is Nothing’.
This underlines the difficult situation of brands from emerging economies in the face of their dominant rivals. While Li Ning have been successful to date, it will be interesting to see if we continue to see home-grown brands seemingly imitate their more established rivals or risk originality as the far eastern economies grow.