A man walks into a bar in Shanghai and orders a beer. A man walks into a bar in Urumqi and orders a beer. What's the difference? Language, price, infrastructure, promotion, even the necessity of bar girls, just to name a few of the numerous factors that affect beer marketing in China.
Frank Li explains the necessary psychology for localizing your brand in China. He starts by dispelling the common misconception that China is “one market.” In reality, local conditions are very different across different regions and something that works in Shanghai may not work in Chengdu, Guangzhou or Urumqi. For example, the use of promotional girls offering the product from table to table might be considered inappropriate or intrusive in a Shanghai expat bar, but it is common practice in other regions.
Frank also discusses challenges for food importers in China, ranging from import and labeling regulations to uneven distribution infrastructure across the country and longer time frames to set up and obtain permits necessary to operate. Finally, he emphasizes the importance of keeping an open mind and recognizing that “you need to understand how business works in China and accept the fact that that’s the way it is”.