As China and the businesses that operate within it adjust to a slower pace of economic growth, the Year of the Monkey will be a crucial one; those with strong products and strong brands stand to do well. Others are likely to fall by the wayside. Legendary investor Warren Buffett says that when the tide goes out, you can see who’s been swimming naked. In China right now, there will be more than a few c-suites where managers are wishing they had a towel handy. This is a market that may be delivering sluggish growth in comparison to the rates we’ve grown accustomed to in China – but it is still growing.
Now, however, that slower growth, coupled with volatility on the stock markets, means there is pressure on consumer confidence and spending, and that means only the strongest brands will now benefit from China’s growth. This year, we believe, will see a shake-out; for the businesses that have invested in their brand during times of fast growth, and which have built a relationship with consumers, this could well be beneficial, as competitors that have cluttered their category struggle and disappear. For those who have not yet earned a place in consumers’ hearts and minds, the coming year will be an enormous challenge.