Friday, August 24, 2012

Review - What Chinese Want by Tom Doctoroff

The publishers were generous enough to send me this book a few months ago.  I've finally read it and am writing a quick review.

I really enjoyed the book.  It's a more of a practical guidebook than a 'Malcolm Gladwell / Steven Johnson sort of book, but all the better for that.

The book starts by saying that to understand China you need to understand three main points:

A fatalistic cyclical view of world
A morally relativistic universe - stability good, chaos bad
& that the family, not the individual is core productive unit of society

then moves on to some short, to the point articles - 37 chapters in 250 pages - covering the different aspects of doing business in China, from the point of view of a Westerner, but one who's been in China for several years.

Some sample chapters:

Doing business in China
Why piracy is here to stay
The new middle class
China’s booming luxury market
Car-crazy China
China’s senior market
Christmas in China

There's even a section at the end on China’s worldview, giving brief descriptions of what they think about a number of subjects, including Japan, South Korea, the Obama brand.

Within these there are some fascinating insights.  For example: Starbucks and Ben & Jerry both theme their communication around enjoyment in public with friends - it's all about public consumption, rather than private enjoyment.  Progress as a person and perceived success is also important; McDonalds make a lot of play of education in China, for example running English lessons.

There are some good sections on Luxury.  We all know that luxury is big in China (again it's the public consumption idea), but since goods generally cost far more in China due to import duties, many who are lucky enough to travel buy luxury goods in the West.

However what successful luxury brands have been doing is to produce very small, entry level products (with the same level of quality), for example phone tags, so that even the less well off Chinese can own something by Louis Vuitton.

I think I would have liked more concrete examples like these, but that may just be the way that my mind works.  I'd strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the way China is changing, and particularly in how marketing works.

Buy the book here

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails