casarte.jpgBurson-Marsteller, the US PR giant, has won a one-year contract from white goods manufacturer Haier to support a brand communications program for its upscale Casarte brand in China.

Haier is, perhaps unfairly, known to most of us in the west as a manufacturer of basic white goods such as air conditioners and refrigerators.

But it was prescient enough to anticipate the rise of a more aspirational consumer class in China who want white goods to make a statement about their owners, such as “I’ve got a lot of money” — just joking.

According to industry mag PRWeek, Burson China will use its branding and luxury teams to increase awareness of the brand among high-end home-good buyers in the country. Chris Deri, Burson-Marsteller China’s CEO said:

“Affluent consumers in China today expect quality and elegance in everything they purchase, from clothing to products for the home. Casarte sets the luxury standard in China’s white goods market.”

As its name suggests, Casarte is a premium brand fashioned after Italian elegance, and its core product lines include consumer electric appliances and integrated kitchenware.The firm claims that Casarte products can now be found in nearly 1m high-end households.

The line-up of Casarte products covers an astonishing 380 product types and the firm can draw on eight design centers, 300 designers and 28 R&D insitutes with which Casarte has struck collaborative deals.

The emergence in China of a substantial consumer segment with taste for “premium” brands — and not just in whisky — is a trend that we’ll hear a lot more from in coming years, I predict.

The most obvious implication is for western firms operating in China, which will see increasingly sophisticated and segmented consumer markets.

Longer term, I can see the rise of Chinese premium brands having an even bigger impact in export markets where Chinese manufactuers are still best known for their low prices more than anything else.

However, some things in China never seem to change — like the mangling of the English language in this description of the Casarte brand on the Haier website:

“Create a Stylish life with elite who cherishes a love for life with human-oriented artistic appliance and integrated kitchen appliance on the basis of Italian heritage and global design & manufacturing resource.”

More Haier stories from EngagingChina here