Brands affected by cotton backlash break silence with Henan donations

Many international brands’ sales and reputation in China have suffered due to controversies over their decision not to use Xinjiang-produced cotton. Following the scandal which began in March, H&M saw its sales in China fall by 23% in the second quarter of 2021.

Amid flooding and vast damage in Henan province, many western brands have stepped in and offered large-scale donations. Many of those affected by the backlash have not posted on Chinese social media since the event and some have broken their silence with a declaration of support for Henan.

The disaster has already killed 63 people and at least 296,000 Henan residents are in need of urgent life support. Nike, Burberry, Zara and H&M are among the international brands to announce donations of money and supplies to the cause.

Nike20 million RMB and supplies 
Adidas20 million RMB 
H&M China1 million RMB worth of clothes 
Zara1 million RMB and 9.36 million RMB worth of supplies
Burberry1.5 million RMB and 500,000 RMB worth of supplies 
New Balance3 million RMB 
Donations from international brands

Chinese tech giants were also quick to respond to the flooding. In times of crisis in China, businesses are expected to show solidarity and support for the cause. Those who don’t run the risk of being ‘shamed’ on social media and facing a subsequent boycott.

Brands that carefully position their messaging could be in with a chance to repair their relationship with Chinese consumers. Many online users expressed their gratitude to the western brands; however, they haven’t fully emerged from the storm by any means. Other netizens saw through the donations and commented that it was a PR exercise to recover brands’ reputation and restore their market position following the backlash earlier this year.

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