Despite recent concerns regarding the health of its economy, China remains one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world. But a word of warning to any company planning on doing business there: Don’t underestimate the task at hand.
IABC Associate Editor Khyla Flores recently spoke with globalization expert Anna Schlegel, who says that for companies based in other countries, entering China is a complex exercise, requiring finesse, insight and—crucially—feet on the ground. “Western companies entering the Chinese market with a fantasy of double-digit growth and cheap labor costs will find that this dream is no longer reality,” says Schlegel, author of Truly Global. “And don’t imagine that you can go it alone: It’s critical that you find a trusted local partner.”
Khyla Flores: As an expert in globalization, you’ve outlined how the Chinese market is a complex one. Can you provide an overview of what this means in terms of initiating business communication with Chinese partners and colleagues?
Anna Schlegel: You always start understanding the logic, strategy and local situation of your field office in China. You need to get to know your colleagues, the country manager and what road map they have laid out. When appropriate, you then need to get to know the key partners and players and what is it that they request from your team, the company. All those strategies need to line up.
Once the local office knows you, they will allow for partner communications. Obviously there are different roles within a corporation and you will cooperate at different levels. If you are a lawyer, you would mainly talk to the legal team....
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