Last week 8 October I was invited at China Connect conference to hear and share interesting points of views about Chinese market and sociology. Tom Doctoroff, CEO of JWT APAC, an American living in China since 18 years so far, present his own point of view about culture, sociology and advertising to better understand how approach this market.
“Chinese have different dreams”
The world view is a connection between people, culture and society. Their cyclical view of time and space is as much important than family and nation harmony, influenced by two mains philosophies:
- Taoism: find the harmony and stability to develop themselves. The eternal fight between Yin & Yang, which we can find an medicin, science and Chinese philosophy.
- Confucianism: individualism doesn’t exist, the personal development comes from Family and Nation fulfillment.
Individualism, independently from contribution to society, doesn’t existe in China and mobilization of national resource is a shared point of view for Chinese society. This cultural vision and the ability to adapt western innovation to Chinese market (Chinese understand world around them and able to transform and adapt to their country needs and context), are powerful opportunity for the country, in the same time a bridle for Chinese développement due to Chinese conformism and absence of an individual interests protection.
“Protection VS Projection”
As Tom Doctoroff explain we can resume the dualism on Chinese advertising using the cultural fight between Protection and Projection: the importance for Chinese to project themselves on a positive and innovative future and their need to feel protected in the present to dominate the chaos (Chinese Grate Wall, The Terra Cotta Warriors or The Forbidden City are some example of protection). We can easily find this dualism in different TV ADS or the multitude of VIP fidelity card proposed to answer to some basics consumers inspirational needs.
Are luxury brands choose to be seen?
Chinese consumers can be very open to experiment new things or express their own creativity, but inside home they prefer be more traditional and consequently they are more price sensitive. Some brands as Louis Vuitton, attract Chinese people so far in the first stage of market growing, also thanks to the unmistakable design and logo of their products, sign of appartenance to an elite.
Today most of luxury brands become affordable for the middle class, and consumers begin to choose understated luxury brand easily recognizable for smalls details. Fashion and luxury brands becomes real community for them.
Web as platform of Creativity
Unlike the shared thought, Chinese people are very creative, but the context where they develop it isn’t free (when a Chinese talk about democracy they means a efficient government for all city of China). In the same time new generation are evolving fast, and they feel more free than 10 years ago, this influencing the new talents and local creation as much consumers are evolving their expertise on choosing products.
Web population in China is now huge and we can describe them as “Netizens”, as not only they contribute from their country, but from all over the world. For Chinese people internet become a platform to share and show their creativity, for brands a way to promote content and educate consumers to their universe. Online key opinion leaders are an effective way to spread advocacy for brands in China as they tap directly inside different communities.
To resume, brands needs a strong know how of Chinese culture and sub-culture to better integrate a local strategy to the global objectives. We need to deep understand brakes and motivations of products consumptions.