Selling in China

Date posted: August 17, 2011

China is a fast-growing country. With this growth comes an enormous opportunity for selling to Chinese consumers, even for companies here in the United States. What will companies need to know about Chinese buyers to be successful? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“Well, they need to know a lot of things. … The Chinese economy is expected to be the second-largest consumer market by 2015.

“People and companies who have operated in China say there are a number of rules to be successful that have to be followed. One is always adapt to local customs and tastes. Chinese consumers are not the same as the American consumers. For example, a KFC — the old Kentucky Fried Chicken — has been very very successful in China. One reason is they have modified what they offer. They offer many more pork dishes. Pork is much more popular in China than is chicken.

“The second rule is don’t have too many brands. Don’t try to confuse the Chinese consumer with so many brands like we have here in the U.S. Instead, focus on a few and mass produce them in order to take advantages of economy of scale.

“Packaging and presentation also seem to be very, very important to the Chinese consumer.

“And the last rule to follow, be flexible. The rules for selling in China are constantly changing, and a seller has to be able to keep up with those rules and to adapt.”

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