I’m Alex from Germany and have just started a work experience placement at Coley Porter Bell. Before coming to London I spent six months in China at Xiamen University to study Economics and Chinese, as well as travelling in my spare time. I gained intriguing insights into the Chinese culture, attitudes and especially their spending behaviour. What I found was the Chinese way of spending money on products differs greatly from the European way.
According to Reuters, the Chinese are the top consumers of luxury goods globally. They significantly buy more luxury goods overseas than domestically because the brands are often much more expensive within China due to tax reasons. Chinese people like to travel, since China opened up to the West, exit regulations are loosened up and the income in the county is rising. They come for shopping trips to London, Milan, Zurich and Paris and arrive with only one goal: to buy luxury goods and high-end brands.
Large amounts of money are spent on expensive bags, watches and jewellery for themselves or gifts for their relatives and friends back home. In the Chinese society it is a big issue to “not loose face” and their gifts should reflect the importance and respect for the recipient, so the amount on the price tag is a big issue.
The problem I see is that most marketers in Europe are not approaching Chinese customers effectively. They often fail to market and communicate their brand messages in a relevant way – perhaps due to the lack of Chinese language skills.
Last week I read in Marketing Magazine that most Chinese do not even know the important shopping districts in London because travel agencies carry Chinese tourists by coach to out of town fashion outlets, Bicester Village being the most popular. New and Old Bond Street as well as Sloane Square, are unknown places for most of the shoppers.
It feels that the Chinese consumers are underestimated by the UK in terms of buying power because I think they are increasingly aspirational consumers. Retailers and other marketers largely fail to tailor their messages to Chinese consumers – opportunities are unseen and very often completely missed.
I come from a small town in the Black Forest in Germany, where there are many souvenir and tourist shops. Even these small shops have Chinese speaking sales people or even Chinese sales assistants who are able to help Chinese shoppers.
When are European businesses finally going to see the importance of this profitable target group and start hiring consultants who have Chinese marketing and spending insights? Where are the company websites and online shops translated into Mandarin? We’ll see which businesses are faster to adopt and adapt then others…
Alexandra Rombach, Marketing Intern at Coley Porter Bell
“I spent this morning at St Ursuline High School in Wimbledon as part of the Inspiring the Future initiative sent round all WPP agencies. I was speed networking with Year 9 girls to help them choose their GCSEs… mental… but great fun and I thought worthy of a blog.
I left school just before my 17th birthday, and never returned, not to any schools – ever. In fact as I’m joining the waves of blue uniformed
‘St Ursuline’ girls flowing up the hill pre 8:30am, I am genuinely nervous. Teenage girls are terrifying to me. But I decided it was time
‘to give something back’ I’ve been lucky through my career to be mentored by various individuals and inspired by countless more, so, I
decided to face the fear and go talk to these Year 9 girls as part of a career speed networking event.
And what an amazing, exhausting morning it turned out to be. The girls are at that awful juncture in life where they’re trying to work out
what subjects to select for there GCSE’s – remember them? The objective of the networking is to give the girls perspective on how their GCSE choices ladder up to an eventual career? How daunting for them and thought provoking for me. I’m asked every 5 minutes for 2 sessions of 50 minutes
‘ How did you choose to work in Brand Design?’
‘ Is it a job for life?’
‘ What GCSE subject choices are relevant for a career in Brand Design?’
‘ Do I need to be good at Art?’….
When forced to reflect on my career and how it happened somethings became apparent to me that I felt compelled to share with the girls. I had no idea there was such a thing as an Account Director in Brand Design when I was at school, nor even at University. I had vague notions of loving art, being passionate about music and photography, but brand design? …So I spent this morning being truthful to these daunted bright young things. It’s okay not to know what you want to do. There are so many different professions and roles out there that you don’t even know exist yet, I met a bomb disposal chemist from the Ministry of Defence (amazing!!?)
So as far as ‘giving back’ goes, I hope I helped release a little pressure for some of the girls who feel they have to have their lives mapped out age 14, I hope my passion for Brand Design might have inspired even one to consider not becoming a vet or a doctor. But I have to admit shattering at least one dream this morning when one astute student asked what the holidays are like – how do you explain that you don’t get 13 weeks off a year…”
Maree McNicol, Account Director at Coley Porter Bell