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Marketing a Business in China


Marketing a Business in China

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Marketing a Business in China

The international transition of a business is more than just costs and procedures. It's more cultural acclimatisation than calculatory acumen. It's making sure your product or service fits the inclinations and idiosyncrasies of a nation; finding a way to culturalise your business in order to reap the same results your business has achieved domestically. This is accomplished through one simple step: effective marketing when starting a business in China.

Marketing your business on indigenous soil is an art-form in itself; attempting to do it in a place like China is nigh-on miraculous. Countries may be becoming more heterogeneous, but the foundations of a culture rarely budge for anything: their sensitivities, traditions, humour, discourses, protocols are essentially unchanging and stubbornly unaccommodating. Therefore, the identity of your product or service needs to seamlessly fashion itself upon a nation, not the other way around, shoehorned in, hoping for the best.

Advertising and Sales promotions in China

Traditionally, advertising in China does not have the influence on the consumer psyche that we have become accustom to in the West. The Chinese rely more on endorsement from friends and associates, or even their own research and reading. Your biggest tool is the uncontrollable asset of word-of-mouth

Paradoxically, China's advertising industry is growing even faster than the economy as a whole. Nearly 100% of households own a television (the government claim 1.2 billion viewers). All the recognisable advertising corporations are present in China. Likewise, there is no lack of local agencies that offer small-scale advertising (flyers, internet and mobile phones).

Marketing is stringently regulated by law. It emphasises that advertising should not be detrimental to the physical and mental health of citizens. It also must conform to Chinese sociological and political ethics, not undermining the authority or interests of the State.

This law has many interpretations, and as such advertising varies from region to region. Again, this stresses the advantage of using local support or partners.

Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity and understanding of protocol is paramount to effective marketing. The intricacies of a nation its beliefs, even its superstitions can make or break your business. Know the market; immerse yourself in it. Never assume your marketing strategy will be transplantable to a foreign country. There is only a slim chance language will translate well. Anglophonic countries may be susceptible, but if your product or service plays on a quintessentially British characteristic or joke the chances are, it will not be well received.

As for other countries, don't bank on using the same strap-lines or gimmicks. Unless they are perfectly transitional, your product or service could suffer especially if it relies on humour.

Unless you are certain your product or service can sell itself on indigenous merits, it is probably wise to revise its selling-points for a foreign market. As always, however, only your own fastidious research can conclude this.

The concept, theory and symbolism of good and bad luck are sewn into the fabric of Chinese life. As such, misuse of numbers, animals, actions, etc, could have a positive or negative influence on a Chinese person's relationships and decision making.

Your products and marketing will benefit from knowing the following:

  • Four is regarded as unlucky. Four sounds similar to the word for death. Seven similarly has negative connotations
  • Eight is regarded as very lucky. Eight sounds similar to the words for prosperity and wealth.
  • Red and yellow and gold are regarded as lucky
  • Avoid white. It is associated with death and mourning
  • The use of propitious animals is admired: the dragon, phoenix, unicorn, tortoise, crane and fish are all popular
  • Images of China's Great Wall are symbolic of stability and reliability
  • Avoid name plaques for opening ceremonies. These are equated to death and tombs
  • Refrain from using black borders around names or photos of people. This is also associated with death.

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