Archive for the ‘Market Research China’ Category
If, like me, you are sitting in the UK, running a market research business on three different continents, it can feel like you have an average body temperature but it is made up of a foot in the fire and the foot in the fridge. The fire and the fridge are the markets of North America and China.
B2B International entered the US and Chinese markets six or seven years ago. Both countries are important to our organisation; as an international business-to-business market research company, we know that we have to have a foot in each camp. Indeed, we had being doing business in both countries for many years prior to this, but always remotely. We sent people from the UK or commissioned partners in the respective countries to carry out the interviewing. However, we knew that if we really meant business in these countries, we had to set down roots there.
These nations are surprisingly similar in physical size at 3.7 million square miles (nearly 6 times the size of the UK). In population, China wins hands down with 1.3 billion compared to 314 million in the USA. In economic terms, it is the US that dominates, with a GDP of $15 trillion per annum compared to $7.3 trillion for China. However, I am just playing with figures and the fact remains that both these countries are giants on the planet and forces to be reckoned with for market researchers.
Setting up a business in each country was relatively easy. We had to be a little careful as to how we defined our business in China because market research companies are looked at with some suspicion, if only because in theory they could carry out social and political studies, which are somewhat frowned upon. In our specialised niche of business-to-business market research this was not a problem. The US had no such restrictions and establishing a business required some form filling and administrative niceties but not much more.
Once we had a physical presence in each country we began to seriously address them as local markets, promoting our services as a supplier of b2b market research. It was at this time that we were struck by the huge differences between the countries. The USA is the home of market research. It began there in the early 1800s, and by the early 1900s the fledgling market research industry had started focusing on advertising testing in one form or another. The industry arrived on the European shores in the 1920s and 30s but it didn’t make it to China until around the year 2000. Not surprisingly, the US market for market research is many times bigger than that in China and much more mature.
The attitude to market research in the two countries could not be more different. In the established market of the US, where a large number of managers have a formal business education, it is accepted that major business decisions must be underpinned with objective data. It is not unusual for a relatively small US company with revenues of only $20 million per annum to commission a market survey costing $100,000. In China it is not unusual for a company with revenues of $2 billion to thumb its nose at spending $20,000 on a market research project. No doubt Chinese companies will modify this view as they find they cannot compete on product and price alone. They will be forced to become more sophisticated in targeting their audiences and understanding them more fully. This may take a few years and in the meantime a good deal of the market research commissioned in China will be by Western companies wanting a deeper understanding of how they can build their businesses in that country.
The implementation of research in the US and China is very different. In China there is a gulf between the massive cities and the rural hinterland. People are not yet forthcoming with their views and opinions and, as a result, the answers to market researchers’ questions can sometimes be a little on the thin side. On the other hand, most Chinese people will still spare the market researcher the time of day in contrast to the US, where it is almost impossible nowadays to get anyone in a large company to answer their phone rather than let it ring through to a voice message.
Paul Hague, founder of B2B International
Last week, Shanghai, China, saw the hosting of the B2B Marketing Chief Congress 2013. B2B International was represented at this prestigious event by Matthew Harrison, Daniel Sun and Stephanie Teow, and Matt and Daniel were delighted to take to the stage on the Friday afternoon to present a session on B2B Market Research.
The B2B International-led session was well received, with marketers from such multinationals as 3M, BP, Fujitsu and Honeywell in attendance. The event, which is a key date in the calendar for China’s leading B2B marketers, also attracted a number of international marketers who had flown in from all four corners of the globe. The B2B International team looks forward to speaking at, and attending, many more of these events in the future as it’s a great opportunity for networking, knowledge-sharing, and spreading the word about the value of b2b market research.
Last week, B2B International CEO Matthew Harrison was a guest speaker on the panel of Insider’s International Trade Breakfast in Manchester. Matt, along with the other panellists, discussed all things China, offering advice to companies interested in the opportunities this vast country has to offer, as well as answering any specific questions or concerns put to them by members of the audience.
Matt, who set up B2B International’s first office in China back in 2006 and who has also helped scores of other companies across a whole host of sectors to establish or expand operations in the Middle Kingdom, was perfectly placed to share his insights. Insider’s review of the event can be found by clicking here.
If you are interested in doing [more] business in China, why not visit our China website to find out how we may be able to help you.
B2B International is pleased to announce the dates of its upcoming training courses in Shanghai: On Thursday, 22 September 2011, we will be running a Market With Intelligence course, and on Friday, 23 September 2011, we will host a course on Value-Based Marketing.
As with all our courses, these full-day, hands-on training workshops will enable attendees to not only learn the theory of marketing, but – crucially – to apply the learnings to their own businesses. A brief summary of the course schedules is shown below, but more information can be found here “Shanghai Marketing Training Courses”.
Market with Intelligence – Thursday, September 22, 2011
This course introduces you to the key principles of market research and how research tools can be used to grow your business. Topics covered include:
• Introduction to market research
Value-Based Marketing – Friday, September 23, 2011
Our value-based marketing workshop explores the key marketing principles and how you can make them work for you, including:
• Market intelligence and value-based marketing
With so many people interested in the state of the economy, Alaric Fairbanks this week takes a look at some of the more unusual indicators which may tell us whether prospects are looking up.
Even – perhaps especially – here in Beijing, as elsewhere, not a day goes by without mention of the economy and how quickly it will recover or not. Supplementary to this are the business confidence or climate surveys and their subsequent reports of optimism and pessimism.
These are all very well, and may be a good source of column inches or publicity for a research company. This is all OK with me but, even if reflective of whatever business community or industry sector’s level of confidence, it is perhaps worth thinking about which sources of information are behind, say, agreement with a statement expecting an increase in profit, revenue, headcount, etc.
From examples I have seen, including, I confess, a climate survey we conducted, there is little attention paid to the sources of information upon which these feelings are based. When it does appear, it is usually a choice of ‘respectable’ sources, such as newspapers, journals, or official statistics. Less expected or rational influences are often overlooked and, even if included in the question set, a respondent may not admit to having been influenced by an alternative or informal source.
Of course, it would be great for our business if businesspeople took tailored market research as their main source of guidance for decisions and even opinions, but as this is not always the case, I was curious as to what observations people were making to inform their levels of confidence.
To this end we spoke informally to contacts in the Western business community about any indicators used to reflect on their business prospects. A common theme emerged around indicators being derived from the physical environment, especially through observation. A simple example of an informal indicator was counting or estimating the number of new building sites passed on the way to work – the more new sites, the stronger the economic prospects.
These conversations suggested that observations were aimed at levels of activity. They tended be a mixture of fairly Beijing-specific and the more general. Observed indicators from work and life in Beijing with a perceived positive correlation included:
And with a perceived negative correlation:
Interestingly, although not all of these are anecdotally based, they all appear to have some underlying rationale. It would be interesting, at least to me, to look into how effective these indicators really are… but things are fairly hectic here at the moment, what with projects, proposals, etc – another way of showing how things are going right now!