The Rise Of China
A shift worth watching in China that speaks to its new position in the world is the rise of localism. Where all things foreign once carried a certain cachet, there is a growing pride among the Chinese in their unique culture of brands, media outlets, and platforms. And that is having an impact, unsurprisingly, on consumer-facing companies in other countries.
A 2021 report by search engine Baidu shows that the percentage of brand searches for domestic (rather than overseas) brands on Baidu rose from 38 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2019, spurred by consumers’ growing preference for Chinese-made goods. The predilection for Chinese brands is especially strong among younger consumers. We can see this trend playing out in cinemas, too. Just 35.9 percent of the box-office earnings in China, the world’s largest theatrical market, came from foreign films in 2019, down from 53 percent in 2012. Hollywood movies have been taking a real hit as China’s domestic studios grow in strength. In part, that has to do with a rising anti-American sentiment in the People’s Republic. According to Chris Fenton, U.S. film producer and trustee of the US-Asia Institute, “Chinese consumer sentiment toward anything American is at an all-time modern-day low.”
This trend toward localism, dubbed “guochao,” is leading domestic manufacturers to incorporate traditional Chinese symbols and retro designs into their products and packaging. “Made in China” is now a coveted label, speaking to the population’s boosted sense of self.