Airbnb launches new brand name in China. Maybe it needed “more effective”research.

Airbnb, the very successful, worldwide, U.S.-based online marketplace and hospitality online service provider, just launched the brand name it will use for marketing in China. It is a three-character name 爱彼迎 (ài bǐ yíng). Individually, the three characters mean ‘love’, ‘mutual’ and ‘welcome’—strategically on-target for Airbnb,  if you consider them in isolation

According to an Airbnb spokesperson, the name represents “the value and mission of our brand, with the love of the world’s tens of millions of neighborhood communities converging in the different corners of the earth”.

Except, there ‘s a little problem. Chinese consumers’ response to the name has been mixed and in some cases quite critical.

While an important step in localization for Chinese consumers and for establishing a clear differentiation from domestic competitors, the brand’s “love”-laden Chinese name may prove to be a liability.

The name has gotten more than just chuckles from Chinese netizens on the brand’s Weibo account and other social media, where comments have ranged from “ugly-sounding”, “sounds like a ‘filthy love hotel’ “and that the brand “might as well stick to having no Chinese name at all”.

Some marketing professionals have criticized the choice, because with the letters it joins together, it is not easy to pronounce. Also, the first character “爱 ài” is a widely used Chinese word expressing the idea of love. “Nothing wrong for a brand to be associated with love, but the issue is too many brands use it for exactly this reason,” says Jerry Clode, head of digital and social insight at Resonance. He feels the character is used excessively in the advertising of other industries and product categories in China. “There is too much ‘love’ in Chinese marketing; it seems difficult for Airbnb to own this emotion for themselves in a differentiated way.”

Well, we’ll see how this turns out. It seems to me that Airbnb will stick with its choice, until significant negatives develop.

However, it does seem strange that a company as knowledgeable in marketing as Airbnb did not either adequately or effectively use market research to evaluate all aspects of a completely new name in a market as widely diverse as China.

For the complete article from Campaign Asia go here:


Study Finds People Understand Market Research … But Don’t Always Trust It.

We in the market research industry sometimes don’t understand how our work and its product are viewed by the public. Although we are proud of our work and the contributions it makes, when we meet people outside the industry and tell them what we do, many don’t share our view and don’t trust research as much.

So London-based online market research company, Research Now, joined forces with ESOMAR (originally the European Society for Opinion and Market Research) to find out what the public in the UK, the US and Germany understands about and thinks of, market research.

Questioning over 4,500 participants, the study was one of the biggest of its kind looking into the public perception of market research.

Although it was reassuring to find that there was a broad understanding of market research in general, only 43% of the public in all three markets trust researchers with the information they provide. 

On the other hand, those respondents who said they take part in surveys regularly have a good understanding of research and are more trustful of the industry. Ultimately, what the study shows is that those with a better understanding of market research are more trustful of the industry, and more comfortable in sharing information.

Maybe we market research professionals need to do more to make the public aware of the high level of ethical conduct we follow and the way we apply it in our work.

Full details on the survey findings are available here.