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Local brands edging out foreign brands in China

Hong Kong

MOVE over Apple and Nike. Chinese phone maker Huawei and food delivery giant Meituan Dianping have replaced you as some of China's favourite brands.

The once-coveted brands of multinationals are losing ground to local companies in the world's most populous country, according to a new report on the country's 50 most relevant brands.

Chinese brands now take up 30 of the 50 slots, with online payment operator Alipay, owned by an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, at the top. That's a big change from 2016 when only 18 local names made the top 50 brands in the survey by consultancy firm Prophet.

Market voices on:

"Chinese brands have been better at leveraging social media to reach out to shoppers in China," said Catherine Lim, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. "There's a stronger buzz."

The survey asked 13,000 Chinese consumers to rank brands that are innovative, practical, customer-focused and inspirational, according to the report.

Meituan Dianping broke through to the top 10 for the first time. The Chinese food review and delivery giant is said to have raised about US$4.2 billion after pricing shares that will begin trading on Sept 20, Bloomberg reported. The company has attracted investment from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, the territory's richest man.

The survey could point to more trouble for Apple Inc in China, its second-largest market after the US. The Palo Alto, California-based company has struggled there as domestic rivals like Huawei Technologies Co and Xiaomi Corp gain in popularity.

In China's biggest cities, the mystique of the foreign brand is fading, said Benoit Garbe, a Prophet senior partner in Shanghai.

"Consumers are getting more sophisticated," he added. "We are seeing local brands - the good ones - popping up as more relevant."

Many other big Western brands were booted off the top 10 list favoured by Chinese consumers this year. Nike Inc tumbled to No 44 while Luxury carmaker BMW AG fell to No 46. Estee Lauder Cos dropped to No 22, though it remained the top-ranked label for cosmetics.

Home-furnishing retailer Ikea of Sweden AB, fourth on last year's list, didn't make it among the top 30 this time. BLOOMBERG