Navigating the China market can bring an endless list of challenges and considerations both planned an unplanned. For instance, how can brands localize their marketing strategies beyond first-tier cities? Or how can they be “China ready” in relation to technology? The British Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai is tackling these and many other China-related questions facing marketers and brands in their insightful podcast series, Live Lounge.
Season two is launching this month with two formats: a “live lounge” featuring a panel discussion that invites input from a live audience, and a “mini lounge,” a three-way chat that seeks to delve deeper into a wide range of consumer categories and topics, including consumerism, lifestyle, digital marketing, and even architecture, with experts from marketing, tourism, and other sectors.
While it’s not luxury industry-specific, Live Lounge’s content has relevance to the sector, with episodes that explore launching your brand in China, and what Chinese consumers want, and Digital transformation—East vs. West. “Everyone in China is in the process of his or her businesses,” British Chamber’s Marketing Focus Group Chair Kirsten Johnston, who heads up the podcast project, told Jing Daily. “No one’s ever arrived and succeeded. Everybody is going through a particular stage, and that’s what we wanted to highlight so that when you’re listening at the season, you feel like China is perhaps less daunting than what you thought because there’s real people I can talk to.”
One such person is Karen Hao, an IP lawyer from a Chinese law firm, who, in episode four, discusses challenges and dispels myths relating to operating within a Chinese legal system for intellectual property. “She really gives some very valuable information that people don’t even think about,” Johnston said. “People jump to the obvious stereotypes and conclusions that products will get copied. It’s not about fear of it but how to put a process in place to stop it from happening, and she really gives some practical advice on it.”
A key takeaway for all listeners, Johnston says, is the importance of doing research about the depth of the China market. “We can’t just have a one-stop solution in marketing that is spread all over China,” she says. “It doesn’t work.” Enforcing this idea, nearly every episode cites a brand or entrepreneurial “disaster story.” “We keep seeing the repeat failures happen again because people haven’t prepared or they’ve made big assumptions.” Johnston says brands and marketers should ask themselves, “Do they know their customer segments well enough? That’s where you need an element of your knowledge on the ground in China.”
The British Chamber is inviting listeners to submit their own topics, but for now, the next six episodes, aired between now and November, will cover issues like growing your business in China, leveraging country branding, product launch and marketing, and recruiting and retaining talent for brands operating within the country. “We’re not trying to pretend that China’s this golden place, we’re trying to say, ‘Yeah it’s a great opportunity to trade here, but don’t think the market is as big as you think it is,’ Johnston said. “Your category might only be a few million people. It’s not going to be as enormous s the 1.3 billion, which everyone seems to have this figure in their mind. This series is about that reality check.”