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  Qingdao: China's brand city  



QINGDAO: Qingdao, a city of brand names, boasts many well-known products and its efforts to build up brand popularity have helped boost the city's competitiveness, economy and development potential.

At the 2006 China Brand City Development Forum that opened earlier this month in Qingdao, it attracted high praises from mayors from home and abroad on its growing brand impact at a national and international level.

"After years of development, Qingdao has become one of China's best known cities for brands," said Xia Geng, mayor of Qingdao.

"Qingdao is also a co-host city for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and its influence at home and abroad has been growing."

Qingdao is the wealthiest city in Shandong province, which has the second-highest GDP of China's provinces. Despite its cosy position on the Yellow Sea along the outer edge of the Shandong Peninsula, Qingdao is lumped together with its neighbours on the other side of the peninsula as part of the Bohai Sea Rim economic zone, North China's answer to the Pearl River Delta (PRD) and the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) regions.

In November last year, Qingdao was granted the title of Famous Brand City of China at the 2005 China Brand Economy and City Summit held in Beijing.

Qingdao now has 11 of China's Famous Trade Names, 44 brand name products at a national level, 151 at a provincial level and 189 at a local level. Five companies in Qinghao have won the National Quality Management Award.

Among them, Haier and Tsingtao Beer are the two leading companies to expand their brand presence around the world.

But the undisputed king of Qingdao's native companies is white goods giant Haier, whose global revenue in 2005 was nearly US$13 billion, about 38.5 per cent of its hometown's entire GDP. The company, which sprang from the ashes of a deteriorating state-run factory in 1985, is now the world's second-largest maker of refrigerators and is diversifying into other areas as mobile phones, insurance and pharmaceuticals.

On January 31, 2004, Haier became the only Chinese company to be named one of the World's 100 Most Recognizable Brands in a global name brand list edited by the World Brand Laboratory, one of five world brand evaluation organizations.

Its brand value tops the domestic companies and is worth 61.237 billion yuan (US$76.55 billion).

Brand Strategy

The success of brand development is due to the Brand Strategy, which was put forward in the mid 1980s.

The city has been clinging to the strategy ever since and a number of companies have emerged and established their status as household names in the nation.

Aside from Tsingtao and Haier, there are also high-tech firms like Hisense, which registered a breakthrough for Chinese companies when it developed its own digital video media processor technology in 2005.

Far from being single-mindedly focused on nurturing its own companies, Qingdao has also received a lot of attention from international firms, which have invested billions in projects there.

Besides electronics and appliances, other key industries include apparel and the food and beverage sectors - Nike and Coca-Cola also have multiple plants in town. Qingdao has especially close ties with Korean business. There are over 5,000 Korean companies in Qingdao and about 60,000 Koreans live there.

Thanks to a clean and favorable investment environment, about 80 brands from World Top 500 companies like Samsung, HP, Lucent, Hyundai, Panasonic, Nescafe, Wal-Mart have moved to Qingdao in recent years and are joined by top domestic brands like Gome, Sanlian and The Home World.

Famous brand names in Qingdao cover areas such as electronics, home appliances, chemical engineering, rubber production, beverages, food, costumes, steel, vehicles, container and ship-builiding.

As a coastal city, the shipping industry, tourism and ocean economy have taken giant strides.

Of the Bohai Rim cities, it is the most accessible to international sea routes and is especially convenient to Japan and Korea, an advantage that has helped Qingdao's port in the Huangdao District compete with its rival in Tianjin.

According to mayor Xia, at least 20 million people from around the world choose Qingdao as their tourist destination each year.

Hosting sailing and several other water-sport events before and during the 2008 Summer Olympics will of course provide a big boost for Qingdao's international profile - it will be the only city other than Beijing to host a medal round in any sport.





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