From Barbie to Starbucks, Chinese want American brands

By Zhang Lijuan
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, January 26, 2011
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In recent years, the "Made-in-China" label has become a pejorative term in the US, but many Americans might not be aware that increasingly Chinese consumers are flocking to American brands, and this is helping further a mutually beneficial relationship.

American brands have a reputation for high quality, and the fact that many of them are made in China doesn't diminish this. While Americans may be under the impression that products made in China are cheap and shabby, Chinese-made American products sell fast and make significant profit.

Chinese people have grown to trust American products, and it seems to have started through their children. When a young couple first brings home their baby, usually they set about finding the best baby formula. After the notorious scandal of melamine in formula from domestic producers, choosing more expensive American brands has become popular. Leading American brands such as Enfamil and Similac have earned the trust of a majority of young Chinese parents. As part of the Chinese culture, parents are used to living frugally for their children, but this shows that they have no problem paying more for trusted brands. Despite China's food safety reforms, tainted milk is still out there, and few parents are willing to risk the life of their child to save a little money.

Chinese children are surrounded by American brands. Try toys, where girls want as many Barbie dolls as their toy chests can hold and boys ambitiously collect Matchbox cars. And just like American children, Chinese kids are growing up watching Mickey Mouse, Tom & Jerry and SpongeBob SquarePants.

American brands already have a strong foothold in the Chinese market that should only increase as the middle class continues to grow. When Americans visit big Chinese cities, they see a reflection of America itself. Starbucks is a trendy hangout, officially licensed Apple and Nike stores are packed, long lines are routine outside of Pizza Hut, rambunctious kids eat at McDonalds and KFC, and Wal-Mart is on the ascent.

Americans should keep in mind that trade is a two-way street and both sides benefit. US companies will reap long-term benefits as China continues to emerge, and the growing economic interdependence will foster mutual trust for generations of Chinese and Americans.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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