Ingenuity vs. Inefficiency: A Tale from Tianjin

The 2010 Annual Meeting of New Champions, or “Summer Davos,” just wrapped up in Tianjin. An exceptional event. But perhaps the most interesting insight I gathered on the state of business in China today came from trying to get a local SIM card to make calls back to the U.S. I’ve changed names to protect the innocent, but otherwise this is what happened. I’ve never seen such intelligent, collaborative hustle leaning against such a jumble of byzantine rules.

I ask David, a front desk manager at my hotel, where I can get a SIM card. He tells me Sam from the concierge desk can go get one for me. I hand Sam a few hundred RMB, and he jets off.

A few minutes later, David calls me in my room and says that he forgot that you need to bring your passport to get a SIM card. So I go downstairs to meet Sam, and we walk the five blocks over to the China Mobile office together. It’s about 4:30 when we get there.

The office, about the size of a trailer, has travel posters on the walls and a long, unmanned glass case filled with manga characters that double as USB drives and cell phone accessories that have been gathering dust since Nokia was on top of the world. At the far end, two uniformed women with elaborate neckties wait for business. Sheila is sitting under a sign that says “Billing Area;” Rose beneath a sign that says “Cashier Area.”

Sam, by the way, is a Chinese version of Christopher Walken at 25 years old. He’s angular, with a light step, and he talks like Walken, both in English and in Chinese. That means his cadence is a pitter-patter of speeding up and slowing down, outbursts and outbeats. He exclaims “Yes!” when it doesn’t make sense, but he does it so effusively that you make the meaning work in your head because you don’t want the appeal of his presentation to fall flat.

Let me see if I can reconstruct what happened next. It was all in Chinese, so I can’t be sure of everything. But Sam explained a few key passages for me, and the visible events were universal enough, so I think I can be a pretty good reporter on what unfolded.

First Sam tells Rose what I want. A SIM card. She asks for how many days I’ll be using it, and I make signs for seven. That’s agreeable. Sheila asks through Rose and then Sam, what country I’d like to call using the SIM card. I tell them the U.S. They do some caucusing. First, Rose and Sheila exchange ideas, and then they bring in Sam, who adds enough to keep the deliberation going for a few more minutes. Then Sam turns to me to say “Calling U.S. on SIM card is very deeply expensive!” I ask how much, and it comes out to about 25 cents per minute, which isn’t cheap, but it’s a sight better than the $4/minute rate the U.S. company whose phone I brought is raiding me.

“Nah, that’s okay, let’s get the SIM card.”

He nods and conveys the conclusion to the ladies, who bustle about collaboratively now, looking up a table on a piece of laminated paper Sheila has uncovered. Sheila says something through her glasses, and Rose agrees. They turn to Sam, who then explains to me that they recommend “you don’t take SIM card, too expensive, and ECN is better.”

He’s right on the facts, since the ECN promises a 5 cent per minute charge for calls to the U.S., but it looks a lot like a calling card, and that suggests to me that I’ll get the U.S. raiding rate plus the calling card rate, so I beg off.

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by Michael Fertik  | http://blogs.hbr.org/

110-Michael-Fertik.jpg
The 2010 Annual Meeting of New Champions, or “Summer Davos,” just wrapped up in Tianjin. An exceptional event. But perhaps the most interesting insight I gathered on the state of business in China today came from trying to get a local SIM card to make calls back to the U.S. I’ve changed names to protect the innocent, but otherwise this is what happened. I’ve never seen such intelligent, collaborative hustle leaning against such a jumble of byzantine rules.

I ask David, a front desk manager at my hotel, where I can get a SIM card. He tells me Sam from the concierge desk can go get one for me. I hand Sam a few hundred RMB, and he jets off.

A few minutes later, David calls me in my room and says that he forgot that you need to bring your passport to get a SIM card. So I go downstairs to meet Sam, and we walk the five blocks over to the China Mobile office together. It’s about 4:30 when we get there.

The office, about the size of a trailer, has travel posters on the walls and a long, unmanned glass case filled with manga characters that double as USB drives and cell phone accessories that have been gathering dust since Nokia was on top of the world. At the far end, two uniformed women with elaborate neckties wait for business. Sheila is sitting under a sign that says “Billing Area;” Rose beneath a sign that says “Cashier Area.”

Sam, by the way, is a Chinese version of Christopher Walken at 25 years old. He’s angular, with a light step, and he talks like Walken, both in English and in Chinese. That means his cadence is a pitter-patter of speeding up and slowing down, outbursts and outbeats. He exclaims “Yes!” when it doesn’t make sense, but he does it so effusively that you make the meaning work in your head because you don’t want the appeal of his presentation to fall flat.

Let me see if I can reconstruct what happened next. It was all in Chinese, so I can’t be sure of everything. But Sam explained a few key passages for me, and the visible events were universal enough, so I think I can be a pretty good reporter on what unfolded. Leer más “Ingenuity vs. Inefficiency: A Tale from Tianjin”

Diageo battles to overcome China’s taste for fiery ‘white spirit’ baijiu

The bad news is that, for now at least, the Chinese love their homegrown liquor – a fiery grain spirit called baijiu (which literally translates ‘white spirit’ and to a foreigner can taste pretty much the same) – a great deal more than fancy foreign brands like Black Label or Smirnoff.

China imported just 4m cases of foreign spirits in 2009 – equating to a near-negligible 1.4pc of the global trade, according to the drinks industry’s research consultancy International Wine & Spirits Record (IWSR).

As so often with a China “growth story” it is the potential size of the prize that keeps foreign businesses interested, which perhaps explains why Jeff Chau, general manager of Diageo China, retains a glass-half-full attitude despite the still-modest sales.

“It is true that international branded spirits are still only 1pc of the total alcohol consumed in China,” he said, “but that’s why we see such massive potential here. Ninety-nine per cent of Chinese are still drinking baijiu or beer and we hope to change that.”


China is a nation that loves its liquor – and that’s the good news for international drinks companies like Diageo hoping to tap into what is a potentially massive market for fine cognacs and malt whiskey in the years to come.

By Peter Foster in Beijing

Baijiu made locally in Haikou, Hainan - love of the homegrown alcohol has made it hard for Diageo's Vodka to make inroads in China.

Baijiu made locally in Haikou, Hainan – love of the homegrown alcohol has made it hard for Diageo’s Vodka to make inroads in China.

The bad news is that, for now at least, the Chinese love their homegrown liquor – a fiery grain spirit called baijiu (which literally translates ‘white spirit’ and to a foreigner can taste pretty much the same) – a great deal more than fancy foreign brands like Black Label or Smirnoff.

China imported just 4m cases of foreign spirits in 2009 – equating to a near-negligible 1.4pc of the global trade, according to the drinks industry’s research consultancy International Wine & Spirits Record (IWSR).

As so often with a China “growth story” it is the potential size of the prize that keeps foreign businesses interested, which perhaps explains why Jeff Chau, general manager of Diageo China, retains a glass-half-full attitude despite the still-modest sales.

“It is true that international branded spirits are still only 1pc of the total alcohol consumed in China,” he said, “but that’s why we see such massive potential here. Ninety-nine per cent of Chinese are still drinking baijiu or beer and we hope to change that.” Leer más “Diageo battles to overcome China’s taste for fiery ‘white spirit’ baijiu”

China is now the world’s second largest economy

The People’s Republic of China – also known as Zhōngguó – has eclipsed Japan and is now the world’s second largest economy.

According to World Bank projections cited by Reuters, China remains on course to overtake the United States and assume the role of the world’s number one economic superpower by the year 2025.

China is now the world’s second largest economyHowever, China’s per-capita income, which hovers at a mere $3,800 a year, is still quite low compared to America or Japan.

Nevertheless, a recent op-ed in the government-controlled People’s Daily urged the United States to “recognize and accept” China’s inevitable rise “onto the world stage.”

“No one would like to see the negative effects rocky relations would bring to China, the United States and possibly to the world as a whole,” explained Zhong Sheng.

“[But] issues such as arms sales to Taiwan, Google censorship, RMB exchange rates [and] finger-pointing about economic responsibility show Washington still seems confused and impatient about relations with China.”

Sheng also noted that ties between China and the United States represented the “most important and complicated” bilateral relationship of the 21st century.


Aharon Etengoff

The People’s Republic of China – also known as Zhōngguó – has eclipsed Japan and is now the world’s second largest economy.

According to World Bank projections cited by Reuters, China remains on course to overtake the United States and assume the role of the world’s number one economic superpower by the year 2025.

China is now the world's second largest economyHowever, China’s per-capita income, which hovers at a mere $3,800 a year, is still quite low compared to America or Japan.

Nevertheless, a recent op-ed in the government-controlled People’s Daily urged the United States to “recognize and accept” China’s inevitable rise “onto the world stage.”

“No one would like to see the negative effects rocky relations would bring to China, the United States and possibly to the world as a whole,” explained Zhong Sheng.

Leer más “China is now the world’s second largest economy”

Is China a debt junkie?

Posted by Michael Schuman

There is a debate raging among China watchers over the potential consequences of last year’s epic credit boom. Banks in China granted almost twice the number of loans in 2009 as they did the year before, an amount equivalent to nearly 30% of GDP. Any such expansion of credit has a powerful impact on growth. So what would happen to the Chinese economy if the credit spigot got turned off?

We’ve all by now learned about the dangers of too much debt. The U.S. is paying the price for an explosion of consumer debt. Europe is struggling with too much sovereign debt. Now one of the big questions facing China is whether or not Beijing’s policymakers are about to get their own lesson in the perils of debt-driven growth.

That’s exactly what’s happening. Chinese policymakers have raised the amount of money banks have to keep in reserve and introduced other steps to rein in lending, and the policies are working. In June, the amount of new yuan loans was less than 40% the total of June 2009. That’s a significant drop. And as a result, the economy is slowing down. How slow will China go? Well, that depends on your view of how important debt has been to China’s recent growth.


Posted by Michael Schuman

There is a debate raging among China watchers over the potential consequences of last year’s epic credit boom. Banks in China granted almost twice the number of loans in 2009 as they did the year before, an amount equivalent to nearly 30% of GDP. Any such expansion of credit has a powerful impact on growth. So what would happen to the Chinese economy if the credit spigot got turned off?

We’ve all by now learned about the dangers of too much debt. The U.S. is paying the price for an explosion of consumer debt. Europe is struggling with too much sovereign debt. Now one of the big questions facing China is whether or not Beijing’s policymakers are about to get their own lesson in the perils of debt-driven growth.

That’s exactly what’s happening. Chinese policymakers have raised the amount of money banks have to keep in reserve and introduced other steps to rein in lending, and the policies are working. In June, the amount of new yuan loans was less than 40% the total of June 2009. That’s a significant drop. And as a result, the economy is slowing down. How slow will China go? Well, that depends on your view of how important debt has been to China’s recent growth. Leer más “Is China a debt junkie?”

5 things you need to know about Shanghai Expo marketing


debbycheung

This article is republished with express permission of Media Asia, which originally published it on April 1, 2010.

Debby Cheung, group managing director of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide/China, shares her insight on the highly anticipated, six month extravaganza known as World Expo 2010 Shanghai, and gives advice on how marketers can make the most of this monumental opportunity.

1. Bring your A game.

192 countries and 50 organisations will take part in the Shanghai Expo – not to mention the brands that will jockey for position with guerilla marketing. Competition for media and consumer attention will be fierce, and the battle will play out both on the ground and online. All involved in the Expo will be scrambling to reach out to consumers to reinforce the faces and personalities of their brands. To be heard, brands will need to pull out all the stops and create bold, determined, decisive and cross-discipline strategies. There will be no room for the faint or half-hearted.

2. Prolong the hype.

The Olympics comprise of 16 days of intense and enthusiastic campaigns that are more easily sustained due to the short duration of the event; but Expo is a whole different animal. This event spans six months, making sustained hype key to the success of campaigns. Without recurring, innovative and ever-changing infusions of activities, campaigns will get lost in the crowd.

3. Non-sponsors get on the bus by thinking green.

The theme, ‘Better City, Better Life’ means that anything sustainable and environmentally friendly is your ticket to an association with the Expo. Sponsors are not the only ones who can leverage this event – all brands should be thinking green to piggyback on the Expo theme. Moreover, the Shanghai government, Expo and organisations will continually look for new partnership opportunities so non-sponsors will have plenty of chances to take part. With 20,000 events in Shanghai, both on and off the Expo site, opportunities to contribute to the green theme are endless.

4. Think beyond Shanghai.

This Expo is expected to generate the largest number of visitors in the history of the event, and only 5 per cent of them will be from outside China. Domestic visitors are estimated at 70 million, with 75 per cent of them coming from second and third tier cities. As Shanghai is simply not equipped to accommodate so many visitors, the government has already secured the support of surrounding cities to help accommodate the overflow. As a result, effective marketing campaign strategies need to think beyond the borders of the already overcrowded and extraordinarily competitive Shanghai market.

5. Expo goes mobile.

3G and the connectivity of Blackberry phones and mobile devices mean visitors will be constantly on the lookout for the best and most interesting places to go and both positive and negative reports will travel at the speed of light. When mapping out Expo strategies, marketers need to capitalise on these channels and not shy away from them. The sheer size of the Expo will make targeting the right audience with traditional marketing a challenge, but mobile and online strategies will level the playing field.

http://www.asiadigitalmap.com/

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China’s Twitter Clones


Written by Richard MacManus

The popularity of Twitter has produced a number of clones in China, just as there are Facebook clones. Some of China’s Twitter clones have been closed down by the Chinese government, but some have survived. We take a look at both cases in this post. We also assess Twitter’s chances of success in China, should it ever be freed from the ‘Great Firewall of China.’

Fanfou, Jiwai and Digu were some of the first Twitter clones to become successful in China. However all three – plus Twitter itself – were blocked by the Chinese government in July 2009, due to their usage during the uprisings in Ürümqi.

According to an AFP article, Chinese authorities blamed online agitators for helping to stoke violence in that region. Prior to being shut down, Fanfou had been dubbed “China’s Twitter” and had almost reached 1 million registered users by the end of June 2009. Leer más “China’s Twitter Clones”