People using WeChat to scan for red packets during Chinese New Year.

HONG KONG — Tencent, the Chinese technology giant which owns and operates messaging platform WeChat, is China’s most valuable brand this year, according to the BrandZ China Top 100 ranking.

Alibaba moved into second place, ahead of China Mobile, the world’s largest telecom provider, which ranked third.

Although the top ten — dominated by tech and financial companies — didn’t contain many surprises, one fashion player made the list for the first time. Chinese e-commerce retailer VipShop debuted on the ranking at number 40. The New York Stock Exchange-listed company was founded by Eric Ya Shen and Arthur Xiaobo in 2008 using a flash-sale model. In 2016, it reported total net revenue of 56.69 billion renminbi, or around $8.15 billion, up 40.8 percent over the prior year.

The Top Ten Most Valuable Brands in China
1. Tencent
2. Alibaba
3. China Mobile
5. Baidu
6. Huawei
7. China Construction Bank
8. Ping An
9. Moutai
10. Agricultural Bank of China

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“As China pivots to a consumption-led economy, the most impressive performances have been posted by brands providing products and services for the urban middle classes,” the report said. “Education and travel agencies were the fastest-growing sectors, up 46 percent, although the much larger categories of technology and retail showed far higher increases in dollar terms, up 16 percent to $163.7 billion and 22 percent to $74.2 billion respectively.”

It added: “While they continue to be large contributors to the overall brand value, sectors that are still dependent on the traditional economy such as banks, insurance, and oil and gas categories have declined 6 percent in value. The exceptions are alcohol and food and dairy, where marketing activities by individual brands helped curtail the overall decline.”

Although many brands were going more premium, “Chinese brands have not reached the luxury level, at least not yet,” the report said.

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The brand valuation behind the Top 100 was conducted by Kantar Millward Brown. First launched in 2008, the ranking combines financial data from Bloomberg and Kantar Worldpanel with the consumer opinions of over 400,000 Chinese consumers.

In order to be eligible for the ranking, a brand had to be originally created by a mainland Chinese enterprise, a publicly-traded enterprise or a brand whose financials are audited by major global accounting practice and published in the public domain.

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