CHINA Market & Trade Profile -

CHINA Market & Trade Profile -

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!


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.

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