Co-founders of a global consulting firm present authoritative, culturally aware advice for successful marketing in China’s complex and growing economy.
Paull and ShuFen’s debut targets Western corporate types with capital to invest, but the accessible, conversational style makes it a compelling read for anyone interested in marketing and culture. The authors’ team conducted face-to-face interviews with 17 top chief marketing officers in China, and the book begins with profiles (and color pictures) of each of these “visionaries behind the brands,” including Coca-Cola’s Stephen Drummond, Camilla Hammar of IKEA, and Christine Xu, the first mainland Chinese to hold McDonald’s CMO position in China. Lively chapters contain hands-on advice concerning best practices—how to build a brand around the Chinese (and not the Western) consumer—and emerging trends to watch, like China’s changing demographics or the decline of foreign brand appeal. Specific case studies are also showcased, such as how Starbucks became a hit in a noncoffee culture by emphasizing national holidays and using less sugar in treats to please the Chinese palate. The key to building brand success in this very competitive market, write the authors, is to humbly learn Chinese values and vernacular; for example, health care in China means living a healthy lifestyle, as preventive doctor visits aren’t generally part of the culture. The guide includes memorable examples of smart cultural marketing: e.g., Johnson’s Baby company’s “Spare Space, Spread Love” initiative. When Chinese moms complained about lack of space for pumping breast milk at work, Johnson’s Baby designed reusable tags—complete with its company logo—to hang on any workplace door as a signal that Mom needs privacy for pumping. Likewise, Coca-Cola capitalized on growing Chinese pride when it garnered government approval to participate in the Beijing Olympics’ torch ceremony (and pass out soft-drink samples). Chinese values are not about the individual, write the authors, so an “individual hero” would not do well in a Chinese advertisement; however, China is a diverse nation of regions and languages, and companies should not treat it as a homogenous market.
A thoughtful, serviceable guide for corporate success.