people, 9,596,961 sq km, 1 political party, 1 currency, 1 time zone. Great
producer and exporter of electrical equipment and apparel, inventor of ice
cream and noodles. Driving engine of the global automotive market, somewhere
between dominating the 21st century and a bursting bubble of deep economic
lot to know and even more to learn about China. And there is a whole lot to
misunderstand, over-interpret and underestimate. Which is why we have a myriad
of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true.
In other words: myths.
wonder if you should expand to China and do business in the Middle Kingdom, or
are just an unbiased and interested person with a good sense of style and
humor, here is what you need to know about marketing in China and what might or
might not be true. Your trusted China experts have gathered the greatest
insights behind the Great Wall. Lean back and marvel.
Black is the new gold.
And so is pink. Black is not the new discreet color to express nonchalance and understatement. In China, pink rules the landscape, not only in attire but in luxury cars alike.
Western styles rule the world.
brands have been serving as a leitmotiv to develop tastes and orientation – the
classic Westernization. What we see now though is more and more Chinese in
China and elsewhere: in a Chinese sense of style and expression, and an
easternization of the West. The individual gains ground not only in terms of an
emancipation from the West, but ideally also from an exuberant collective.
Myth #3: The
internet will revolutionize China.
always on. True that. This has led to an increased understanding of consumers’
rights, the shaping of tastes through the means of interchange. Also true: When
online, China’s internet users grumble, but they are not yet ready to rumble. China’s digital era remains uniquely Chinese. Beijing
allows for a blank canvas of self expression and material gratification, but
retains the veto power to control public discourse.
China is lagging behind Western marketing development.
consumer taste is not yet as mature as the highly developed Western consumption
palate. Well of course not, and why would it even want to be like the Western
one? The new Generation Y (those aged 15-35) is endowed with a completely
different set of values, beliefs, interest and lifestyle. Their tastes and
demands are developing at hyper speed, giving way to completely new and unique
patterns and tastes. Marketing measures have to adapt to this and be flexible
enough to answer to the ever-changing preferences.
Myth #5: The
Chinese consumer is inscrutable.
In a way we
have to believe this. China’s unique characteristics are manifold, unpredictable and completely
undecipherable for a Western palate. Almost. Truth: The collective myth of
Chinese consumers is a challenge, but (mostly) dispelled: We are facing a new
generation of brand-conscious individualist, and individual as they are, they
are still part of consumer groups the size of Germany, or rather twice that
Myth #6: The
Chinese are the new Dutch.
thought. But no, not yet. But we are getting there. Fact is: Travel and the great outdoors is one of the hottest trending pastime in China.
Number of inbound as well as outbound trips are skyrocketing. Watch out there,
producers of hiking goods, cameras and travel maps!
Translation is the biggest challenge of marketing in China.
We have to
admit: We love Chinglish! Point is, translation as such is beside the point. It
is about adaptation. It’s not about grammar, and more than solid advertising
skills: Marketing concepts that are to be brought to China need to hit the
finely tuned Chinese string. In China, Oreos come as a stick, and the Wackeldackel is the cutest ice bear ever to be rescued by Volkswagen.
Confucius says: Be humble. Silence beats noise.
course: It’s Confucius!
Sorry, but no: In China, it’s all about to see and to be seen. Size matters as
Mobile marketing is text message only. Or: You need a proper website to be
the world is a disc. By all means, take a very close look at WeChat to get an idea of how mobile is changing the game.
China has taken a leap, and this is only the beginning.
E-commerce will surpass the US in volume within this year. And will continue to
parents’ China might have been something similar to “Red China”, our China is
dominated by “Made in China” – but our kids’ China will resemble the idea of
“Invented in China” more than anything else.
self-confidence and assertiveness reflecting a sense of pride in the Chinese
culture and ingenuity is reflected by a growing number of brands that chime in
the swan song of the Chinese work bench that is giving way to Chinese
There is no
Truth is, there is no number 14, but that story is still to be told. Stay
Anja leads the Creative Strategy department at TD Reply, and with her team turns data into strategy and strategy into action for international clients and projects across industries. She started her role at TD Reply in Beijing where she stayed from 2011 to 2015, implementing forward-looking thinking in projects such as the People’s Car Project and the introduction of VW’s XL1. Anja led different teams from various industries on trend scouting tours through China.