China is going to become a far more important market for UK businesses post-Brexit. It is seen by many as the natural alternative to the benefits of the EU.
Could the fact that the Chinese Government and public want a trade agreement completed with the UK as soon possible be a sign of potential opportunities to come?
As Domenica Di Lieto, CEO of Chinese marketing consultancy, Emerging Communications, suggests, “Despite the strong affiliations the UK has with China through the popularity of British history and culture, fashion and design, and the massive following of Premiership football, fundamentals need to change if China is to become the trading opportunity it promises.”
The Journey to Business in China
“At the moment more is exported from the UK to Ireland than China. Equally, UK flagship British companies ranging from Tesco, M&S, Asos, Top Shop, to Pret A Mange have set up shop to great fanfare in China only to leave shortly after with substantial loss of face and investment to show for their efforts.”
“The reasons why the UK businesses underperform in Chinese markets is simple: they fail to fully understand markets and buyers”
“In some instances, marketing is done on the cheap and badly.”
Overall, these are unheard of practices when it comes to domestic markets, and elsewhere.
“There is a common belief that Chinese consumers and business buyers live in a simpler world. Reality could not be more different.”
“Chinese B2B and consumer markets are the most sophisticated in the world. Marketing intertwined with mobile payment systems are years ahead of elsewhere.”
China is the only country to have introduced voice payment – and consumers instantly identify lack of understanding and marketing commitment when they see it. And they see it a lot from UK companies.
However, export success is achievable when commitment is applied. Clarks Shoes is a good example:
- Research identified an opportunity to promote its products as mid-priced good quality British shoes
- The British labelling was important because it carries connotations of reliability
- The company called itself Clarks English.
- The brand positioning, and accompanying marketing has led to huge sales success
It is the type of homework and applied insight by Clarks that is essential.
“If UK companies aim to successfully benefit from doing business in China then the principles of learning about audience, and communicating effectively need to be applied,” concludes Domenica. “There is no substitute. Just ask Tesco, M&S, Asos, Top Shop, Pret A Manger, or Clarks.”