Insights from Arie Schreier. How China is changing and what we can do to capitalize

October 27, 2017
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Guest post by Toby Marshall, Following a Round table in Australia with Arie Schreier, GM at PTL GROUP, China.

ACBC boosted our week with yet another brilliant Round table presentation, this time from speaker Arie Schreier. And nice to see our old friend David Thomas back in the facilitation role – he does it so smoothly and his China knowledge is vast.

With Arie’s extensive experience consulting to and managing organizations globally, his stories held valuable insights for those planning to capitalize on the business opportunities in China.

And loved that he didn’t just share the ‘look at the success we delivered’ stories – he shared some stuff ups as well. So much more real and valuable than the perfect world that many firms pretend to have. What were some of his take home messages?

Cheap labor is a myth

Producing in China is not as cheap as it was even 5 years ago. High-quality, skilled labor is getting more expensive, particularly in Tier One cities. Rising wages and the rising value of the Renminbi have made doing business in China less profitable than just a few years ago.

Chinese companies are now starting to “offshore” to lower wage countries such as  Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. When it comes to infrastructure and experience, China is more than capable to compete with Australian companies.

Australian and Chinese Social Media marketing strategies are worlds apart

Australian businesses breaking into China need to rethink their entire marketing strategy. Commonly used Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are blocked, whilst the main ‘western’ business network, LinkedIn, is (relatively speaking) hardly used at all. The marketing and communications space are overwhelmingly dominated by WeChat and Weibo.

However, I would add that there are still a massive 30 million in China on LinkedIn, all of them segmentable and reachable. And they are way more internationally focused than the ‘average Chinese person’. LinkedIn remains a key part of our strategy to take SMEs into China, about the equal of the work we’ll be doing on the Chinese sites.

And IMHO, dismissing LinkedIn is a bad mistake that every marketing or ‘China Bridge’ company selling their services in China seems to make. It is highly valuable!

Marketing Content

Aside from the disparity in platforms available, there are also barriers involved in translating English marketing content into China. A lot of marketing simply doesn’t translate well. Arie strongly advises hiring a competent team on the ground in China for a powerful China Aware marketing strategy.

Note that we have got around this with our partner in China (hello Lie!) and the 3 Chinese national interns we have in our office. They all speak and write Mandarin, but also are familiar with the culture.

Developing now at Warp Speed

We all know about China doubling the size of its economy every 7 or 8 years. Old news, but not Trump Fake News!

What has now completely changed the competitive game? SmartPhone take up, and WeChat. You can almost run an entire business on WeChat, which in a month or 2 will have a billion regular users. And 500 million are in China.

So all the technology is now at their fingertips – as Arie says, the West is struggling to keep up.

A great event, thank you ACBC, Arie and David.

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