STEPPING OUT IN CHINA
With input from some key market players, Jan Bierman walks you through the steps required to succeed in the China market.
Jan Bierman walks you through the steps required to succeed in the China market.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.
The action of putting one foot in front of the other and determining whether your business is a goer in China is several times more nuanced and complex that you may first think. Discovering this will take you right out of your comfort zone.
Successful market entry will mean that you will need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you know how to handle discomfort, you'll be better equipped to evaluate your choices and embrace the opportunity.
While it is true that China represents a huge potential market for New Zealand goods and services, its sheer size, scale, regulatory environment, heterogeneous nature and rapid evolution presents distinct challenges for new players. It can be extremely baffling to know where these opportunities lie and how to access them.
Jussara Bierman of global branding agency Rare HQ knows this all too well. “We have seen too many businesses fall on their faces in China because they have over-rated the street-cred of ‘Brand NZ', trusted distributors, taken a one-size approach, or had a DIY attitude. China requires a discrete mindset, commitment, and insight.” “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” – Confucius
Tim Zhou, a New Zealand alumni and owner of Resonance Trading, a Shanghai-based food and beverage importer and gifting agency, likens doing business in China to an “extreme overtaking experience”. “Look what's on the road,” he says. “You will see luxury cars worth over one million Renminbi (RMB or CNY) as an indicator of China's growing economy and wealth.
“Then take a note of the driving behavior, with motorists making use of every bit of the road in their rush to get ahead. At first, this ultracompetitive environment can be scary; but tenacity and a willingness to do comprehensive due diligence, readiness to localise and take the lead, and the spirit to continuously thrust yourself forward can lead to success in China.”
Success can be elusive if you don't learn to embrace a China mindset.