Today Wednesday 15th of April, third day of the Week of Communication in our university, those who chose to, had the unique opportunity to attend a Master Class about Entrepeneurship and Social Media in China with Michael Wenderoth, who has spent a lot of time in this country as a part of the American company that created Invisalign. The objective was to incorporate the product into the Chinese market.
He shared with us his experience in the Chinese market. He told us that although it has many obvios differences in culture, it ought to be approached like any other new market.
“¿Why should we care about the Chinese market?”
- Every year 25 million people, which is close to half of Spain’s population, enter the middle class in China.
- More than 700 million active smartphones.
- It’s a country that is changing very quickly and its market is constantly evolving.
China’s market has 5 main characteristics:
- Ferocious local competition
- Unclear (even unfair) rules
- Rapid change: “You can never step into the same river twice”
- Cultural distance
Mr. Wenderoth explained in more depth these 5 characteristics using as practical case the incorporation of the American product Invisaline. On the one hand, the main attractiveness of the Chinese market is that due to the fact that it is growing so quickly and that so many people are improving their economical situation, its a good moment to use that development to encourage consumption and obtain a significant economical benefit from it.
However, we mustn’t forget that there are risks and the fears entrepreneurs face when considering tackling this market. Chinese competition is ferocious, often when it comes to business they won’t hesitate is bribing, copying ideas etc. Also, the cultural differences represent an important challenge.
When approaching a market as dynamic as the Chinese market, we ought invest less time in market research and focus on market “testing” trying out directly what works and what doesn’t, of course this means there is a greater risk, but you don’t need to wait a long time to obtain feedback which makes taking risks much more approachable. Michael Wenderoth used a translated Chinese expression to depict the attitude you must have, it applies to simple actions such as crossing the street in an intersection as much as it does to business decisions and actions: “Cross the river by feeling the Stones”.
Other particularities about approaching the Chinese consumer Mr. Wenderoth shared with us, included that anything that is imported is considered to be safe and premium, so for example when it comes to the marketing and the aesthetics of a website it is beneficial if it doesn’t appear “too Chinese”, it is an advantage to put forward that the product comes from somewhere else, where it is successful.
As the final thing to take into account, we must be aware that Chinese consumer don’t use the same search engines or social platforms as we do. For example: instead of Google that have Baidu, and instead of Youtube they use Youku. It would make no sense to advertise products in Google if we intend to aim Chinese consumers. Also strictly linked to this we must also observe that they access the Internet mainly through their phones, so the platforms should be adapted to the mobile format.
This Master Class was a unique entertaining experience, that not only offered us a lot of useful information but also awoken a great curiosity to go to China and see how it is through our own eyes.
Liam Alexandra Aronow