A third of Americans would not buy a brand if they knew it to be Chinese-owned, according to a latest survey from HD Trade Services Inc, a US marketing and brand development company.
The survey asked 1,500 Americans, "would you buy a product if you knew the brand was owned by a Chinese company?" - 68 per cent said they would, but 32 per cent said they would not.
By contrast, 81 per cent of respondents said they would buy a product if they knew it was Japanese-owned.
"We believe this stigma toward Chinese brands is based predominantly on the perception that Chinese products are of lesser quality, and a general disapproval of Chinese policy," said Daniel Sperling-Horowitz, president and co-founder of HD Trade Services.
An earlier survey by the company showed that 94 per cent of Americans could not name a single Chinese brand.
Among those who could name at least one, Lenovo was mostly mentioned (2.53 per cent), followed by Baidu (1.2 per cent) and Huawei (1.07 per cent). Only 59 per cent of respondents were unable to name a Japanese brand.
"This contrasted with the fact that China is the world's second-largest economy and nearly half of all durable consumer goods purchased in the United States are made in China," said Sperling-Horowitz.
Leo Liu, HD Trade's director of China operations, said the results illustrated just how important it is for Chinese brands to work on raising their international profile.
He cited Haier, now one of the world's largest appliance makers, as an example of a huge Chinese company, but which was thought by many American respondents to be a German-owned brand.
Liu said German products are generally synonymous with superior engineering and quality in US.
"Haier does nothing to deceive its consumers - it has simply positioned itself as a multinational brand," added Liu.
A major reason for the low Chinese brand recognition, according to Sperling-Horowitz, is that many Chinese companies are too focused on establishing and perfecting their brands at home, and have not dedicated enough resources to promoting them in overseas markets such as the United States.
Many Chinese companies have entered the US and international markets by acquiring Western companies with a pre-existing footprint, rather than launching there on their own, he said.
But Sperling-Horowitz said there is still room for Chinese companies to improve their marketing strategy.
He added that after attending many trade shows in the US over the years, one striking impression is that many Chinese companies - even multi-billion dollar ones - attend such events using staff who cannot speak English proficiently. They also use brochures and other promotional materials which can contain many grammatical mistakes.
Chinese companies are also not good at telling their own success story, he said.
"Believe it or not, the average consumer is exposed to more than 3,000 advertisements per day.
"Companies that tell a compelling and authentic story are more likely to succeed in gaining consumer attention.
"But without getting across your story, a brand and product is quickly forgotten," Sperling-Horowitz said.
David Brain, Edelman Asia-Pacific's president and CEO, said it takes years to build a country's brand recognition.
However, it can take just a few recognised brands to change people's perceptions about a whole country.
For example, he said, Hyundai, Samsung, LG and Kia had managed to improve the perception of South Korea and its brands.