6) Britain’s Brand Image in China The bigger picture – Britain as a “nation brand” The UK is further down the ranking scale as a country that is competently, honestly and fairly governed (13th), and in comparison to the majority of the other countries on the NBI Index, the UK is not perceived to be a country that behaves responsibly in the areas of international peace and security (21st). Exports The Chinese perceive the US, Germany, Russia and the UK to make a major contribution to innovations in science and technology. The Chinese view products that are made in the US, Germany, France and the UK positively. www.visitbritain.com/ukindustry The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index (Wave 3 2005) is an online panel survey of 1000 Chinese. Overall, the Chinese rate the UK well on all aspects of the Brand Hexagon with the exception of GOVERNANCE, which is ranked in 13th position, compared to the other countries surveyed. The 6 points of the hexagon are made up of several different questions, which compare 24 countries as Nation Brands. The Chinese rank the INVESTMENT dimension the highest (2nd place behind the US), followed by EXPORTS in 3rd place. This indicates that despite their relatively low opinion of the UK government the Chinese would still be happy to live and work in the UK. They also appreciate products produced in the UK. The Chinese also have an appreciation of British CULTURE (ranked in 4th position behind US, France and Russia). TOURISM is also ranked in 4th position (behind Egypt, France and Italy). The Chinese rank the British PEOPLE in 5th place. Culture Chinese respondents perceive the UK to offer a balanced mix of both rich cultural heritage (4th place) and interesting and exciting contemporary culture such as music, films, art and literature (3rd place). The US and Russia are countries that the Chinese consider to excel in sport and the UK is ranked in 6th place. The bigger picture – Britain as a “nation brand” People The UK is not perceived to be a welcoming destination for the Chinese, who do not feel they would be made to feel welcome by the British people, ranking the UK in 16th position compared to the other countries in the survey. Interestingly, the French are perceived to offer the biggest welcome to the Chinese, followed by the Australians and Canadians. The Chinese would most like to have a person from France, Germany or Canada as a close friend, with the British in 6th position. In the world of employment, British people do best through Chinese eyes, coming in 3rd place behind the US and Germany as the preferred nationality to fill an important position in their company. Tourism If money were no object, France, USA, Germany and the UK would be the top destinations to visit for the Chinese. The Chinese perceive the UK to be more a country rich in built heritage/historical heritage (6th), than rich in natural scenic beauty (11th), compared to the other countries surveyed. Governance On aspects of governance, the Chinese perceive the UK to be a country that behaves responsibly towards international concerns over the environment and world poverty (7th), and a country that respects the human rights of its citizens and treats them with fairness (8th). Investment The UK is ranked as 8th most popular country to live and work in for a substantial period of time - interestingly France is the most popular. The US and the UK are considered good places to study for educational qualifications. Britain as a Destination Brand – DEPTH, HEART & VITALITY According to research conducted (pre-ADS) for the development of the Britain Brand (Project Lion 2002) in China, perceptions of Britain were fairly limited with key points of interest being its inherent ‘otherness’, its unique cultural history and its current global standing. Britain’s (at the time of research) lack of “Approved Destination Status”, as well visa restrictions that some respondents had experienced, contributed to a sense of its being a very rigid, serious country, with a fairly dour population. Some Chinese spoke of its continued influence throughout the world, and expressed a desire to find out more about its origin. “ Getting a tourist visa for Britain is very difficult. It depends on the money you have in the bank, if the hotel has confirmed, etc.” “England is the origin of the changes that happen in the world, the source of development.” At the time of research (pre-ADS), there was little notion of Chinese people wanting to visit Britain purely for leisure. They spoke of having an extended stay there, during which they would look to cross off the key monuments in London, and, in some instances, attempt to gain some insight or learning that they might take back with them to China. In addition, there was also some interest in Britain, and London in particular, in terms of its multi-cultured status. Several people saw this as providing a sense of security during their trip, as well as a way into the foreign environment. Wave 3 2005 of the Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index, included questions to measure perceptions of Britain as a holiday destination on attributes related to Britain’s brand values, DEPTH, HEART & VITALITY. In the NBI, 1000 Chinese participants rated Britain on a scale of 1-7, where 1 was “poor” and 7 was “excellent” and overall, they gave a range of mean scores from 4.83 – 5.35 across the 16 attributes. DEPTH is the strongest brand value for China overall - a combination of tradition, cultural events & attractions and stories around the sights in particular. However, Britain is almost equally likely to be seen as modern as it is traditional, and our natural scenic beauty is a twin USP to the heritage & culture dimension. Being beautiful and relaxing are stronger HEART dimensions for Britain than the explicitly human ones of friendly, welcoming and sense of humour. Weaker areas overall are perceptions of Britain having vibrant and exciting cities and of there being always something new to discover in Britain. Britain is also relatively weaker perceptually on the VITALITY elements of energy and sociability.
6) Britain’s Brand Image in China continued Looking only at the 240 Chinese participants who had ever visited Britain, perceptions improve somewhat with real experience on ALL brand dimensions – but this is significantly true for some VITALITY elements of being a destination that is energetic, sociable and has vibrant and exciting cities. Perceptions of DEPTH attributes are least likely to change with experience. The weakest attribute remains the concept of Britain offering “something new to discover”, and we must be prepared to address this with the advent of ADS leisure groups. Unless we can give Chinese visitors enough to whet the appetite for repeat visits, we run the risk of falling prey to the “done that / tick-off” mentality. This is a simplified diagram showing the relative strengths of the different brand attributes. People were asked to rate Britain on each attribute using a scale of 1-7 (where 1=poor and 7=excellent). As nobody rated below 4 or above 6, the diagram has a mid-point of 4 and an outer rim of 6. Basically, the closer the shading to the outer rim, the better the perception of Britain on that attribute! CHINA 7) Product / Market Fit General motivators for international travel VisitBritain’s Online Best Prospects research found that perceived safety of a destination is of paramount importance to Chinese travellers – with three-quarters saying it was “extremely important” when considering a destination. Ease of getting a visa for a destination was rated as “extremely important” by a third. Important “product” factors that Chinese travellers look for in a destination are natural scenic beauty (43% “extremely important”), well-known landmarks (31%) and friendly local people (30%). Sources of impressions on Britain In the Public Diplomacy Brand Tracking research (late 2003), we asked young (18-40), ABC1, well-educated Chinese respondents to identify key sources of information that had been most important in helping them to form an opinion about the UK. The top 5 were: Internet / Websites 58% Local Press 41% National TV news 37% Books 25% Word of Mouth (friends & family) 19% Only 5% felt they knew the UK very well, 41% knew a fair amount, and 54% knew just a little. Chinese respondents felt that they knew the USA better than the UK. 72% had a favourable opinion about the UK (and only 8% unfavourable). Top of mind reasons given for favourability were “welcoming / friendly / courteous” (20%), “culture / lifestyle / heritage” (20%) and “good opportunities / career” (17%). Qualitatively, we find that the image of Britain in China is one influenced by detective novels (e.g. foggy weather, men with beards and walking sticks). Most Chinese people have limited knowledge of the country. The perception of Britain is mainly known for its history and heritage: famous museums and castles, a strong image of the Royal family plus being famous for its international fashion houses. Most prospective tourists perceive Britain as an old-fashioned and conservative country. Britain is associated with the bowler hat, foggy London, and Charles Dickens-like images. Few people will change their perception even after a sightseeing trip to Britain, most of which only embrace UK’s traditional relics. Journalists can even perpetuate the myths - as a quote from a recent Chinese focus group demonstrates: “Chinese newspapers say that Britain is boring, rainy days and fogs – but my friends tell me there is no fog anymore” Sources of impressions on Britain continued Recent qualitative research in China identified a few key culprits of myth perpetuation – namely Sherlock Holmes, literature from school and university (e.g. Dickens) and old films such as Waterloo Bridge, The 39 Steps and Death on the Nile – which despite being set in Egypt was a key source of the “English gentleman” imagery that is so pervasive in Chinese perceptions. Limited updates on Britain seemed to be getting through (some contemporary films e.g. Mr Bean, Notting Hill and Harry Potter). What products / experiences are most attractive to Chinese visitors? History / Heritage / Royalty In recent qualitative research (September 2005), it was evident that the Chinese have a mutual respect for Britain’s “1000 year old history” – they see kinship here between China and Britain. They are very interested in famous landmarks and monuments that represent the key sights of Britain’s history and heritage. Royalty and aristocracy are big draws and the Chinese express an interest in experiencing life in palaces and castles, following in the footsteps of royalty, etc. In the Online Best Prospects research (2005), 2/3 agreed that “visiting castles, churches, monuments, historic houses” would be extremely important to them during a visit to Britain – by far the most endorsed product area tested.