Another critical factor in the Chinese market is ,accordingly to my experience, the “power of the street” . This effect is even more critical in the case of aspirational brands and those brands targeted to young consumers.

Television is very popular and massive in China but more skewed to older people. Internet is the king for the young generation with penetration in top tiers cities comparable and even above some western cities.

However internet is for communicating , for connecting brands and individuals. But it is not to “show off”.

And the fact is that Chinese consumers like to show off . They need to demonstrate their success and wealth. As opposed to western markets, wealth is something new in the society, not a “family heritage” you expect others to discover about you.

In China you want to be explicit, you need to show and tell.

Conversely Brands also need to demonstrate and “show off”  and the street is the best place for this encounter.

If you are not in the street, you don’t exist.

This is the reasoning behind the strategy of many brands to integrate and create their shopping experience in their own stores. It is not just “Apple and luxury boutiques” as you might think.

Let’s take sport market. It is Adidas, Puma , Nike , Kappa, Li Ning …all of these brands have their own stores!

These are not just flagship stores.We are talking of an approx. range between 1200 Nike stores to 6300 Adidas stores.Including more than 5000 from Li Ning and more than 3000 from Kappa.. It is a new distribution approach reflecting  new brand strategies to connect and “show off” to consumers, to control their image and to selectively build their consumer franchise not relying only on third party distributors or multibrand stores. It might be a slower , certainly more expensive, but more solid way to build a brand.

But sports are not an isolated example. Nokia also has decided to build their owns shops, also Sony….in fact, all key brands aggressively competing in relevant product markets with self expression values.

Brands own the metro, the street, in a very attractive way though . Acknowledging the importance of the street, concious that their presence is a demonstration of their power. A presence , in fact, extremely more attractive than their counter parts in the western markets.

Good lesson for brands willing to enter China.

But also good lesson for brands willing to learn from best practises.

Yes, of course. We, western-experienced marketeers, have also many things to learn from China marketeers.

Have a good weekend


Qin Jian October 26, 2010 - 10:37 am

The show-off trend is not only in China, but also in south-eastern Asia. Here you can sense the culture difference between the western and the asian. Besides the flagship stores and the ad in the high street, music shows in the street are also used to introduce new products into the market. In fact, the so popular practice of using the horse’s mouth is not so popular in Asia.

Rita October 30, 2010 - 5:02 am

Agree with Qin, that this trend is also prevalent in SE Asia. This trend I believe was best articulated by the author, anybody who needs to, “demonstrate their success and wealth” will want to flaunt it, “As opposed to western markets, wealth is something new in the society, not a “family heritage” you expect others to discover about you.” It’s something for them to be super proud of, so they scream it, they’ve earned it. So, anyone bigger group that comes into “new” wealth will probably demonstrate similar behavior. An example outside of a country would be Hip-Hop.

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