The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

In China, Clarity Is King …
March 31, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, China, Chinese Culture, Comment, Culture, Insight, Marketing

I love this country.

It has it’s quirks, but doesn’t everywhere?

In terms of the industry I work in, it’s a place that has a bunch of unique challenges.

One of them is that the ad business is still relatively new here while another is that commercially, the rules of marketing are quite different to those in the West.

That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just different.

Now if I was to explain what these differences were in very simplistic terms, I would say that the reason so much communication is either straight to the point is …

+ Make sure you get everything you can today. Tomorrow can wait till tomorrow.

+ Stick with what has worked in the past. Different means inviting risk to the outcome.

+ The execution is the idea.

+ Spoon feed your message to the audience. Leave nothing to chance or interpretation.

+ Doing what the boss wants or expects ensures job security.

As I said, I am being very generalistic and not everyone has followed this path … but the fact of the matter is this approach has paid huge dividends for many companies throughout the country, however I still believe the key reason for this is down to 2 things:

1. China’s rapid economic growth meant people were looking for places and ways to spend.

2. The ad industry looked to fill their pockets, rather than educate for the future.

Given the countries economy is slowing down [albeit at a rate most Western nations would kill for] it will be interesting to see how this manifests itself in terms of marketing, communication and consumer behaviour.

Will brands start to look longer term rather than short?

Will companies start to look for ways for leading rather than following?

Will marketers want to interact with their audience rather than just speak at them?

Will more of society choose brands based on values rather than perceived status?

Will the shift from ‘what you have’ to ‘how you live’ permeate the whole of the country?

I honestly don’t know – especially as there are many parts of China still experiencing rapid changes to their standard of living – but what I am pretty sure of is something will happen because contrary to popular belief, there is no one who understands the value and perception of brands like the Chinese and if there is less money to go round, they’ll make sure they spend it on the things that have sustainable value, not just superficial status.

Which means we could be entering an exciting time in China’s marketing evolution.

Or just more of the same.

19 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Interesting post Robert. You don’t talk much about your knowledge of China but I wish you would because it’s fascinating. My question is, based on what you say, are there a lot of nervous Western companies hoping they did enough during the great times to ensure their brands are seen as having sustainable value?

Comment by George

cue long winded fucking planner type answer from campbell. oh what fucking fun that will be.

Comment by andy@cynic

Congratulations Andy, you’re right …

Well, it’s not that simple George, because as much as brands that have sustainable value will become [in my opinion] more important in the purchase decision, they still will have to be brands that are relevant to culture at that moment.

This is a ‘group acceptance’ society so people look for brands that either let them feel they’re part of the collective or brands that ensure they don’t look like they’ve been left behind.

It’s very complicated but whereas culture simply went with the newest new thing, I believe they will seek greater substance behind their choices – albeit as long as they reference modernity rather than just quality.

The temptation for brands to just put new things out to look relevant will be as high as ever, but – in my opinion – it will be those who marry it to traits that show a deeper level of substance and quality that will win with the aspirational set. [read: 300 million Chinese]

Comment by Rob

i fucking knew it.

Comment by andy@cynic

Interesting post Rob, those client marketing rules and the influencing factors that made clients believe they were the path to success certainly resonated with me based on my time there. But with over a billion people, shouldn’t there be enough people and money to go around?

Comment by Pete

not if the stupid fuckers bet the fucking farm on china there isnt.

Comment by andy@cynic

Like LV. Good point. What are they doing to keep profits up in China, Rob. Any idea?

Comment by Pete

Yeah … like LV.

As Andy said [though not in reference to LV] they globally banked so much on China’s success that they now need to drive continued growth, even as the economy is slowing.

Their strategy for this is to open stores in cities outside of their Tier 1 stronghold.

While that may make sense from a sales point of view, it means they are potentially alienating their Tier 1 core user base because the last thing they want is to be seen with a bag that people in cities “lower than them” have.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. The fact prices for luxury items have been lowered to try and counter luxury brand tax and stimulate purchase of goods inside of China [rather than outside] is interesting in itself.

Comment by Rob

fuck knows what the retail fucks think but i bet the apartment building bastards must be shitting their panties right now. and not just in commieland but every country where theyve been building boxes to flog to chinese students. i fucking hate those building pricks so screw them.

Comment by andy@cynic

All I want to know is if key guy can get me in to your safe deposit box.

Comment by Billy Whizz


Comment by DH

If I had a safety deposit box, all you’d find in there would be my pastel rainbow, limited edition Birkenstocks.

Comment by Rob

Maybe you should tell the locksmith that big key will never fit in that small padlock. I have a similar issue.

Comment by DH

yes my fist was always too fucking big for your mr men sized mouth.

Comment by andy@cynic

You mean your feet are too big for those chick shoes you wear.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I love your self depreciating sense of humour Dave.

Comment by Rob

Advertising expert posts five questions about his region and declares he can’t answer any of them.

Comment by john

Which – in my defence – is more honest than claiming I can when the situation hasn’t even happened yet.

Comment by Rob

I’m sure the cleints will agree.

Comment by john

Leave a Reply