A new set of challenges for U.S. companies in China

29 October 2008

As
many of you probably remember, back in the 1970’s, 80’s and even into
the early 90’s anti-American sentiment was one of the biggest
challenges to doing business and selling U.S. products and brands in
China. Luckily, those sentiments have changed and U.S., European, even
some Japanese brands are in high-demand today. So if we’ve finally
hugged-it-out, what are the new, 21st century challenges for U.S. companies and products trying to navigate the world’s biggest market?

Just
walking the streets and malls of Beijing and Shanghai, I think the two
key words in China today are “choice” and “discretion.” There are more
choices than ever in China when it comes to every product imaginable;
computers, sneakers, soap, you name it.  In the past there were one or
two choices if you wanted to buy a product; the Chinese brand or the
foreign brand. Now, every brand sells here. And consumers are
exercising unbelievable discretion when buying global brands. There was
a time when Chinese consumers would just buy any global brand they
could find. Now they’re becoming connoisseurs picking products and
brands from a wide catalogue of choices.  The next set of challenges
here for U.S. companies is increased competition. The trick I believe
is to offer a good quality product, localize your marketing strategy
and don’t rely on the pure novelty of it being a foriegn brand to help
sell it in China anymore.

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