News By/Courtesy: Athul Joseph | 26 Jun 2020 11:18am IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • With the anti-China sentiment among Indians, how should brands with Chinese connections deal with the outrage
  • Indian smartphone makers are not too hopeful over prospects of a reversal in fortunes due to the current anti-Chinese sentiments triggered by the Sino- India border tension.
  • India imports more goods from China than any other country. And over the past decade, India and China have enabled each other's rise as emerging technology powerhouses

On the night of June 15, 2020, Indian and Chinese soldiers were violently confronted in Galway Valley, leaving 20 Indian soldiers dead and many injured. It was the worst fight between the two neighbors in more than four decades. The situation has led to an anti-China uprising across India. The uproar comes at a time when the government itself is vowing 'Made in India' goods, with campaigns such as 'Vocal for Local' and 'Atmanirbhar Bharat.' According to data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, China accounted for almost five percent of Indian exports and more than 14 percent of imports in 2019-20. Smartphones, electronic devices, industrial devices, finished steel products, Some of the leading exports were from China (to India). At least half of India's 30 unicorn companies are reportedly funded by Chinese investors. Prominent among them are Zomato, Swiggy, BigBasket, Flipkart, Paytm, OYO, and Ola.

However, after the Galway Valley incident, social media sites were full of demands for a ban on the selling of Chinese goods, with hashtags such as 'BoycottChina,' 'BoycottChina Products,' 'BanChineseProducts' and 'BanChina.' Calls were also made to completely block websites such as TikTok and Club Factory. According to a report published in The Quint, The91Apps, a Noida-based app developer, launched a mobile app that shows the country of origin of the product. According to the market research firm Counterpoint Research, four of India's top five smartphone brands are Chinese. Xiaomi is in the center, followed by Vivo, Realme, and Oppo. Xiaomi, Realme, and another Chinese brand of OnePlus smartphones are vigorously introducing new models, which will be followed by big media advertisement campaigns. But in the present atmosphere, spoilsport can be played. The Indian T20 cricket league IPL said in a tweet that it would be reviewing its sponsors; its title sponsor is Vivo. News channel Republic TV was recently caught up in a bind when it held an 'anti-China' debate, but the sponsors of the series turned out to be Vivo and Xiaomi. Brand endorsements by Bollywood celebrities, too, came under the microscope after the All India Traders Confederation (CAIT) asked the actors to stop endorsing Chinese brands. CAIT also urged the Government to make it compulsory for e-commerce portals to display the 'country of origin' of products while listing them on their websites. Bollywood actor Aamir Khan and cricketer Virat Kohli endorse Vivo; Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone endorse Oppo; Xiaomi has Ranveer Singh, and Realme has Salman Khan.

Indian consumers, though patriotic, are value-seekers at the heart. They go to the brands that offer them the biggest bang for their buck, and not necessarily concentrate on the roots of the brand or product. Today, it is almost impossible to buy/get services in India without any Chinese involvement in the brand/product/service being consumed. For the time being, the latest flare-up at the border and the call for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' have rekindled anti-China rhetoric. But, as in the past, it's a short-lived one. When needs often outweigh prejudice. The desire for a decent phone, TV, or even a shoe or a dress at low budgets is still likely to tip the scales towards Chinese brands. Also, it is now understood that Chinese brands versus 'Made in China' are different concepts. Many of the items are manufactured in India today, and they get the 'Made in India' tag. However, given current sentiments, it would make sense for brands to lay low for a few weeks until this dies down. As we can see with Xiaomi and Vivo, they are avoiding their current promotions. It's smart to stay out of the fire line. But this does not affect further long-term endorsements. More than brands, the advertising, and the media industry at this time badly needs this infusion of sponsorship dollars. Nonetheless, the latest uproar does not have an impact on the sales volume of Chinese telecommunications and electronics brands. At the end of the consumer, there is a realization that there is a little bit of China in everything around it. If you need to boycott Chinese brands, you need to go frugal. Brand endorsers are caught between the consumer activist and the producer. They will bear the frustration of frustrated customers. But this too shall pass.

THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT INTEND TO HURT THE SENTIMENTS OF ANY INDIVIDUAL, COMMUNITY, SECT, OR RELIGION ETCETERA. THIS ARTICLE IS BASED PURELY ON THE AUTHOR'S PERSONAL VIEWS AND OPINIONS IN THE EXERCISE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 19(1)(A) AND OTHER RELATED LAWS BEING FORCE IN INDIA, FOR THE TIME BEING.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 26 Jun 2020 21:30pm IST


Tags : China brands outrage

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