China is now comfortably the second-largest consumer market in the world, and it boasts a massive population of consumers who have little debt and a lot of cash to spend. In addition, many Western brands have proven to be very popular in the Chinese market. If you are planning on expanding your company to China or off-shoring production there, you must keep in mind several cultural and logistical factors that will shape your strategy as you operate within the country’s borders.
1 – Think long term – it’s a ‘win’win’ marriage, not a date!
It’s true in any business situation that you need to prove to your customers and vendors that you aren’t there to make a quick buck off them and then disappear into the sunset with your profits.
2 – Consider the big cultural differences and Embrace the Chinese culture
Most Westerners are at least somewhat aware of the major differences in Chinese culture, and these can have an important bearing on your company’s success in the country. For instance, colors can have very specific meanings for the Chinese people; red, for instance, is associated with good fortune. While white symbolizes purity, it is also the color most associated with death.These facts can be crucial for your branding considerations in the country.
Other example, Chinese New Year is the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar, which is different from the Western calendar new year. It is also known as the Lunar New Year and every year is represented by a zodiac animal sign. If you are doing business in China, it’s important to show your interest in these celebrations.
3 – Acting ‘local’- Hire locals and learn from them
Anywhere you plan to do business, you are more likely to succeed if you rely on local partners and this is particularly true in China. The cultural differences are not just conceptual and affect how you go about your daily business.
This is why your trusted local partners, employees or translators are your eyes and ears. You could learn much from them and develop a winning, locally informed strategy in order to successfully navigating the complex world of Chinese business.
4 – Get to know China politics and policy
In China, governmental agencies have their hands in everything, no company is disconnected from politics. Before setting up a business, it’s critical to understand how things work in detail and to get to the bottom of Chinese politics and policy. For example, when setting up a new business in China, some legislation will be under the domain of local government, but in other areas you’ll need to submit your application to the central government bureau. In many cases, local bureaucrats may be more prominent than the central Chinese authority.
5 – Crucial Business etiquette tips to keep in mind
- Dress to impress: Appearances are important, so you should dress with quality clothes and a bit conservatively.
- Enter in a room in order of seniority
- Handshakes: Not as firm as in the West and better to keep the eye contact brief, if it’s too long it might interpreted as a challenge.
- Business Cards: Make sure you have both a Mandarin and an English side on your business card. When the time comes, present your card with two hands and prepare yourself to receive it with two hands too.