What holds back businesses from succeeding in China?

China’s rapid economic growth over the past 30 years has had a significant global impact. Accounting for 18% of the world’s GDP in 2017, the Chinese economy has already surpassed the US in terms of GDP and shows no signs of slowing down. With its accelerated development and increased influence over foreign markets, China has sparked the interest of Western businesses and enterprises. That being said, however, its culture, language, and business policies have imposed a challenge for the English-speaking world, making market penetration much more difficult. What are the factors that have made China an unsolvable mystery for the Western world, and how can companies work around them to ensure efficient business communication and partnerships?

Language barrier

Having a successful business in China largely depends on whether or not one can speak the language. Being extremely different from most Western languages, Chinese is challenging to learn and difficult to do business in. While China has only one official language, there are multiple local dialects, making communication difficult, even between locals living in different areas. The language issues most businesses face can be easily resolved with the expertise of skilled translators and interpreters. Seeking out their professional services will ensure that any business negotiations run smoothly and that important documentation is accurately translated. At 1-StopAsia, we recommend trusting your business correspondence to only well-established translators with a good track-record, who have comprehensive knowledge of not only the Chinese language, but also the country’s culture and traditions.

Business regulations

business in ChinaWhile, according to China’s Vice Premier, Wang Yang, the country is working to create a “non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies”, the authorities are simultaneously taking actions to prevent foreign firms from gaining access to Chinese consumers. It’s been challenging for Western companies to adapt to the laws and regulations of the Chinese markets. In addition, their successful integration has been made more difficult by China’s ambitions to establish its own companies as world leaders in their industries. Western companies entering the Chinese market need to be prepared to comply with the government’s restrictions if they want to reap the benefits this foreign market offers.

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The Chinese Consumer

Although in the West, the higher earning population is older and more experienced, in China the most lucrative segment is aged between 19-29, and they are willing to spend a considerable amount of money on high-end consumer goods. While being eager to spend, those customers are also less trusting and more picky when it comes to foreign companies, which makes localization and translation all the more important for businesses. The biggest challenge for most companies from English-speaking countries is to establish a personal relationship with Chinese consumers, who are willing to splurge only if they can relate to a brand’s message and its products.

Volatile stock markets

The Shenzhen and Shanghai’s stock markets consist of a small part of the country’s economy, and their value is determined mainly by policies passed by the government. The government has a decisive role in determining which of the companies trying to gain market entry get listed and which don’t. The Chinese stock market crash from 2015, for instance, shows exactly how volatile the market is but it also implies that, what could be seen as an economic crisis in the West, doesn’t have the same consequences on the Chinese economy. With these differences in mind, Western businesses need to adopt a separate strategy when reacting to changes in China’s stock market.

Fragmented markets

The disjointed Chinese markets, especially when it comes to retail, is what many Western businesses have struggled with when trying to establish a presence in the market. The presence of many mom-and-pop shops in the smaller but more populated cities creates a hostile environment for any new business trying to gain the trust of the Chinese customer. Failure to understand the specifics of these local markets and implement the appropriate localization strategy is what prevents Western businesses from reaching success.

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China’s complex language, history, and culture have created a sense of mystery and have challenged foreign companies, eager to enter the market. The unwillingness of many Western businesses to, first, understand what drives the Chinese customer’s purchasing intent, has been a problem for their successful integration within the market. In order to solve the mystery around how the Chinese markets operate and what it takes to be accepted as an equal competitor, businesses from the English-speaking world need to craft a good localization strategy, supported by the expertise of interpreters and translators.