From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’ : the development of a country brand in the international exporting context
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Globalisation has created a world where countries compete with each other over trading. Historically, emerging countries started with a negative brand image to enhance exporting. This is particularly true in the Asian context where a general developmental path has been established by countries such as Japan and South Korea. Their success has gained a strong brand image for their products. China, after launching itself into the global market in the late 70s, has gained an increasing market share of ‘Made in China’ products. The reputation of ‘Made in China’, however, is perceived at low quality mass production of low-tech content, and there are only few Chinese brands which can stand out in the global market. This study explores ‘Made in China’ phenomenon in the global market, especially from the producer’s viewpoint. The literature review provides a background to the research. It covers the studies on Country of Origin (COO) effect, economic development strategies and competitive advantage theories. This research employs a mixed methods strategy that combines both quantitative and qualitative studies. The questionnaire survey was designed to reveal British importers’ perception of ‘Made in China’ products. Netnography and Interview are adopted to investigate the voice from Chinese producers and manufacturers. The design of this research allows for triangulating the findings. The results show the international buyers, i.e. British importers, perceive the biggest advantage for Chinese products is price. Chinese producers’ contributions suggest four themes to represent the current situation of ‘Made in China’, namely the image, price, quality and imitation. In their view the future development lies in ‘Created in China’, which consists of other four themes: creativity, branding, designing and R&D. A model of -From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’- is developed in this research. This model identifies the major obstacles that impede the development are thin profit and copying. This research shed lights on the study of developing a country brand, especially for the emerging nation like China. For the first time, this research explores the producers’ views to highlight the importance of their roles in a country brand’s development. The findings also have the implications for Chinese policymakers and industrial development agency. It further offers knowledge to the emerging nations who wish to develop their country brand in the international exporting market.