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Product Placement in China: Why is it bigger than ever?

Product Placement in China

Product placement, (embedded Marketing or Brand Integration) consists of promoting products and other services in an indirect manner through TV and Film. In China product placement is high and on the rise, with many marketers opting to promote products through the use of  TV and film as it represents a unique and interesting way to improve brand awareness amongst the target market. Many consumers are bored and tired of traditional marketing techniques so product placement is a more innovative and interesting approach to promoting a brand and product.

Product placement has numerous benefits around the world and especially in China, most notably perhaps the ability for Product placement to effectively target a market and the affiliation between the product and celebrity endorsements. This creates increased brand recognition and positive brand affiliation as it is associated with TV and film stars.

Strategic product placement 

There is also a growing trend of Chinese companies promoting products in Hollywood movies, not with the aim of attracting American consumers but instead to resonate with Chinese viewers, this association with Hollywood allows the Chinese brand and product to improve the recognition and perceived quality amongst Chinese consumers. Product placement must be done effectively and strategically if it is to be successful, it should be worked into the storyline in a manner that makes sense. If the product is seen to be forced into a storyline where it does not fit, the consumer will respond negatively to this form of product placement, as was the case in a recent example of Chinese Red Bull in a Chinese TV programme, which resulted in the audience laughing at the poor standard of product placement. Chinese consumers tend to be quite accepting of product placement, however, careful consideration needs to be given when using product placement in China to ensure it is effective.

Cinema and product placement in China

Product placement in ChinaCinema in China is growing, the growing middle-class population in China is now frequenting the cinema more often, in turn, this represents an opportunity for product placement in the Cinema market to grow even further. From 2007 to 2014 the number of cinema screens in China has grown from 3,257 to 23,592. This rapid expansion in the number of cinema screens shows the increase in the number of people in China visiting the Cinema. This, in turn, increases the opportunity for product placement and promotion in China. Marketing managers are increasingly choosing this form of product placement to increase brand awareness of products. In addition, by a Chinese product featuring in Hollywood movies which are shown in China, it increases the appeal of these products as they become associated with celebrities, becoming aspirational products which mean a premium price can be charged. Next year, in 2017 China’s box office takings are expected to surpass the US, with a taking in excess of 10 billion dollars expected. Many Chinese companies and brands have helped to fund these movies through product placement and hope to enjoy the rewards of increased cinema number viewers.

Movies and TV with product placement 

Product Placement online in ChinaThe recent film ‘Transformers 4’ was renowned for having numerous different types of Chinese products featured in its movie from bottled water to banking in China. These brands pay high prices to these movie producers to incorporate these brands into the film, to give subtle promotions of the brand in China. In 2013, the box office market in China was worth 3.6 billion dollars, in the same year, product placement in this industry was worth 162 million dollars. An example of the Chinese version of ‘Ugly Betty’ is renowned for high levels of abrupt product placement, which would not be appropriate or would not be accepted in other markets such as the US. The healthcare brand ‘Dove’ is promoted in great levels in this show, to levels that wouldn’t be appropriate in other countries. But Chinese people tend to be more welcoming to product placement and are more accepting to brand promotion in TV programmes and film in China. Hence, this creates an opportunity for brands to promote and display products within China TV and film effectively while reaching a large target market. Product placement is also seen by marketers as an effective means of promotion as it allows them to target specific target markets, for example in the case of  ‘Ugly Betty’ in China, ‘Dove’ can effectively target Chinese health conscious women.

Product placement worldwide is on the rise, especially in the Chinese market, an area in which brands are increasingly choosing to utilise to promote their product, as it allows them to reach a large target market efficiently. Product placement may be a costly form of promotion but it offers a unique, effective and innovative way of promoting products to Chinese consumers.

Daxue Consulting’s Expertise

Daxue’s expertise will help its client to follow beyond its allocation of budgets and channels, the changing role of older media and the emergence of newer one. Companies in China require a deep understanding of how Chinese consumers engage with different types of media at each stage of the day toward a specific purchase decision. Indeed, marketing plans and capabilities must adapt to the changing market.


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