Since Deng Xiaoping’s 1979 Reform and Opening Up Policy began, Western brands have faced headwinds entering the Chinese market. Some have succeeded, but there have been many more failures. We’ll take a longer, historically informed view to think about what separates the winners and losers of Western brands trying to make it in the Middle Kingdom.
Author: Lee Moore
Internationally, McDonald’s has long been dominant, but in China, KFC reigns king. KFC has twice as many outlets, with experts having long explained KFC’s dominance through better localization efforts. While this argument holds water, the competitive relationship between the world’s largest fast food chains has also bolstered their mutual success in one of largest and most complex markets in the world.
The Curse of the Skyscraper is a theory that claims that skyscrapers are usually a sign of poor investment and an economy careening towards recession. China has over half the world’s skyscrapers, and the central government is beginning to limit the height of buildings in an attempt to avoid the Curse.
Today, China eats more crawdads than the rest of the world combined. The story of this crustacean’s journey from Louisiana to China is one of accident, ingenuity and natural market forces. In a time of isolationism and trade wars, it is important to remember the little things that drive the larger economy within a globalized world.
The narrative of AIA and Ping An is one familiar to Western brands that enter China – with many fallen prey to the pitfalls of misaligned cultural values. AIA had not fully weighed the taboo of death when it entered the Chinese market and faced significant challenges when selling insurance – stymieing its growth and providing the perfect opportunity for China’s now largest life insurer to seize the market.