Why Is So Important to Adapt For China?

Updated: Sep 11


Why Is So Important to Adapt For China? Winning Brands Are Seeking To To Understand?


Brands who are attempting to build popularity in China today need to understand a fundamental lesson. Global brands forget the missing link which is to understand the Chinese Consumer and its purchase motivations.


There has been many a major global brand who in my recent memory underestimated the importance of this. From Fashion Label "Dolce & Gabbana" in 2018 who is still paying for insulting Chinese women, with its insensitive tone-deaf video by Stefano Gabbana making derogatory comments about the Chinese.


Luxury fashion brands have been apologising left and right after mainland Chinese shoppers took offence with T-shirt designs that list Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as independent countries.


Italian fashion brand Versace came first. On August 11, it issued an apology in response to a white T-shirt that featured a list of cities and their corresponding countries.

Well-established global brands often underestimate the importance of this. Decisions are driven by a lingering temptation to rest on the laurels of their brand legacy, yet the path to success in China necessitates humble acceptance that the company is entering the market on the back foot.

Compared to other markets, China is indeed a tough nut to crack.


Language barriers and legal hurdles aside, one of the most significant and yet consistently underestimated reasons, why global brands struggle in China, is simply the cultural difference. Specifically, many fail to acknowledge that consumers in the Chinese market often have entirely different mindsets and motivations to those in the West.

Brands have learned there are China-specific standards that must be upheld.


Brands have learned there are China-specific standards that must be upheld. It is a delicate balance is at play: on the one hand, maintaining the essence of a global brand, but on the other, adapting to satisfy the high expectations of Chinese consumers.


When it comes to getting the basics right, Western brands would do well to partner with local counterparts.

When it comes to getting the basics right, Western brands would do well to partner with local counterparts. Mersol & Luo


Starbucks - Brand Humbly altered much of what it takes to resonate with the Chinese Market.


Just as the initial founder of Starbucks changed much of his Italian-inspired concept to cater to the American market, so the brand humbly altered much of what makes the chain resonate with Americans for the Chinese market. Single chairs were exchanged for long, communal benches to allow large professional groups to flaunt their new generation co-working approach in public. The menu was overhauled to introduce more extensive tea and snack options, stores made space for logo-emblazoned accessories, and an office delivery was set up.


A differentiated proposition is futile unless it is localized to consumer tastes and satisfies their basic requirements. The more established the brand, the more room they have to play, but until consumer trust is established, brands can never be too attentive to local customs.


For all Western brands adapting for China, understanding such deep-seated purchase motivations can be the difference between success and failure.

If China is indeed a hard nut to crack, it is in large part due to a fundamental lack of consumer understanding. Brands must look to modernize, not to westernize; listen to locals, and dig deep to find a truly meaningful role for their brand within people’s lives.

In brief, a few words for brands looking to launch in China:


Global trends may open up similar opportunities for your brand in Chinese and Western markets. But look closely, because the consumer motivations behind them may not be as similar as you think. Understanding these motivations will be key to your success.


If you want to learn more about Mersol & Luo Consultant Strategist - audrey@mersolluo.com


Source 1:- Dolce & Gabbana Is Still Paying for Insulting Chinese Women

Source 2:- Luxury Brands Face Backlash from China Over T-Shirts

Source 3:- Source 3:- Adapting to China? Winning Brands Don’t Seek to be Understood, but to Understand Emily Sheen is a Senior Strategist at Landor, Singapore 


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Audrey Anderson

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Audrey is an SNS, Marketing, Branding & Positioning Expert Consultant, founding father of the community for creative, ambitious, and accomplished entrepreneurs. As an SNS Marketing Consultant, she features a proven diary in delivering sales revenues, growth, and developing different businesses in Asia.