China is a rapidly evolving marketplace. Local brands are winning market share from foreign incumbents by offering a much stronger product proposition. Chinese consumers are adopting new products at a swift pace. Consumers are seeking new ways to experience everything and they are looking to brands to fulfil that expectation. Are you ready and able to compete?

Chinese consumers behave quite differently from those in your home market. The market is complex and the speed and scale of change is unprecedented globally.

Are you in market but not gaining much traction? Is your product languishing on the bottom shelf? Why is this? Is it because you haven’t done your homework or is it because you have trusted someone else with the care of your brand? The first step is to know your market and develop a brand strategy.

Products need to be fit for purpose. Building capability for the China market requires:

  • Agility, experimentation and rapid iteration. Differentiate your brand proposition and be fearless.
  • Localised innovation through creative adaption. Design products that target a need very specifically. De-feature elements that Chinese consumers do not want or will pay for.
  • Learn from market trends, such as looking to the extreme consumption behaviour of big spenders – their purchase decisions are likely indicators of future tastes as the market becomes more discerning.
  • Have a consumer mindset. Consumers are constantly seeking novelty. Create a new category.
  • Be human. Embrace human virtues such as authenticity, and engage with the consumer journey. Have a personality.
  • Seek to solve a problem or issue. Socially responsible brands that solve a challenge are gaining increasing attention.
  • Build a mixed capability team. Talent counts. Invest in people. Guys that win in China are in China.
  • Use design thinking. Innovate from your own learnings. Don’t let big data be the inspiration – everyone has the same information.

Bǎ wò dāng xià (把握当下) – “seize the day”.

Jan Bierman

Author Jan Bierman

Jan is our business strategist, with over 20 years consulting in the commercial and public sectors. She specialises in guiding individuals and organisations on the critical success factors that drive innovation adoption, from ideation through to implementation.

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