sophistication and spending power. With these factors in mind, it is no wonder that China has become the new promised land for many Western businesses eager to tap into this rich and still emerging marketplace.
Companies that are looking to export to China face many exciting possibilities and prospects, but they also face new and possibly unconsidered challenges.
Firstly, you should thoroughly appraise your product or service, and ask yourself if it is suitable-or needed-in the Chinese market. If you have a defined product or service, you then need to decide where in China you are looking to focus on, and the tastes and preferences of local consumers. You should also research your existing or likely competitors and their pricing levels and services.
Beyond these fundamentals and concomitant research, it is also important to bear in mind China‘s culture and history, as these things are of immense importance to the Chinese, so plenty of reading is recommended before your first trip to China on business.
In terms of your companies resources and the kinds of commitments it may be required to make, bear in mind that the Chinese market is a vast, complex place where establishing and cultivating personal contacts is of paramount importance. In terms of local resources that may aid you in establishing your business links in China, you may well need to pay or refund travel and lodging costs, as well as other concomitant costs, so be sure exactly what you will be getting into and what you are willing to commit to.
There is also no question that different laws and regulations will have one of the biggest impacts on how you do business, and you will need to be aware of areas such as import and accounting procedures, foreign currency exchange and, perhaps more of a minefield in China, intellectual property rights.
When it comes to your company materials, especially those related to marketing, ensure that items such as business cards and brochures are printed in both English and Chinese, and avail potential clients of all product information in good time before any meetings. Remember also that colors have particular significance in Chinese culture. Red and gold are particularly auspicious colors in China, but under no circumstances should you write another person’s name in (red). This is also best avoided for your own name and company, if possible. China also has certain number taboos, with “4” being seen as unlucky, whereas “8” is auspicious. This may not affect you, but taking this into account for deal dates, etc, might have a favorable impact and demonstrate your cultural knowledge and sensitivity, and might given you an edge over your competitors.
In terms of dealing with people on the ground, remember that “face” is a crucial concept in Chinese culture. Face basically translates as “respect” and is a crucial part-not just of doing business in China, but also of the wider national psyche. Losing face can happen to a Westerner in an instant, and they may not even be aware that it has happened, so those doing business should be careful. Take care not to lose your temper in front of work colleagues or contacts, and be careful not to criticize in public, as this will cause great lose of face. Conversely, face can be given by praising someone in front of colleagues and adopting an unruffled manner-even if things are not going well.
Written by Alexander Grimes