Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Made in China: the Conversation

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Stephen -- thank you for joining this conversation. I admit to not knowing too much about China, my expertise resides with work in Europe and the US.

Back in April of last year I met a consultant who knew James McGregor, from the WSJ and recommended I read "One Billion Customers: Lessons from the front lines of doing business in China". The book was a fantastic find! If there is interest in this forum, I'll be happy to get into it.

When I met Shelly Lazarus from Ogilvy & Mather at a conference a couple of months later, she recommended McGregor's book to people who wish to understand how business in China is conducted.

My final thought is that I have a colleague who is the GM for China and he's from Italy. He studied in Germany and England and speaks Chinese. Again, if this forum will allow, I'll ask him to join the conversation.

Being myself what they define a "twin", with one foot in each continent and having done interpreting work and translation for years, I do get that culture is paramount.


China is, for most of us, a market of about 300 million consumers -- those who make over US$4,000 if my memory serves me correctly.

Staying ahead in one company I worked for meant guerilla branding. The category was computer headsets for PC gaming -- a commodity business where locally mfr'ed products were sold at around US$1 each. In a Shanghai electronics mart, I had a consumer come up to the storefront where I was and ask specifically for a Plantronics model (that had been discontinued for a few years) -- when we asked him why, he quoted verbatim (in Chinese) from a Swedish Counter Strike clan's endorsement of our product ("so good you can hear the enemy creeping up behind you") from several years prior (!)

I also saw Sennheiser headsets selling very briskly there, even at "global" prices of US$70 to US$100 -- a lot of money for that economy. Branding is alive and well in China.

The downside is the multiple claims of IP infringement from the likes of Hwa Wei and others for big ticket items like telecom and rounting technology products.

And, of course, the shadow over the horizon is that there are roughly a billion unhappy farmers whose rights and property are no one's top priority.

Not an easy situation, but a very interesting market.

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