I will be participating in a Huffington Post Live show on China TODAY.  The show starts at 1 pm EST/10 am PST and it is going to be on the following:

  • Why do American businesspeople “love” Chinese officials. Is this because the key to financial success is finding that government in?
  • Why do expat leaders leave China?
  • How will China’s slowdown impact American businesses?
  • What about China as a currency manipulator?
  • What about the tense relationship between the United States and China?

I make no promises regarding brilliance or erudition, but I assure you that I will be contrarian enough to generate at least some controversy.  So please be sure to listen, either live or at some later time.

And, of course, don’t hesitate to let us know what you think/thought.

Just read China Smack’s interview of Tom Doctoroff  and, as is the case whenever I read Doctoroff, I leave impressed. I am always recommending Doctoroff’s book, Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer, and his Huffington Post writings to my consumer goods clients. Though there are definitely those whom I respect who disagree with Doctoroff’s thinking, I chalk that up to advertising being as much art as science.

The highlight to me from the interview is where Doctoroff describes the Chinese consumer as being driven by “self-protection” and “status projection”:

Of course, one size doesn’t fit all. But there are “unifying themes” and “variations” on these themes. It’s like a Bach Fugue; there is a primary melody with interpretations of that to address target consumer and geographic considerations. Some roll their eyes when I harp on about a Chinese “worldview” that is fundamentally different from Westerners’ basic motivations. But smirks be damned. In order to touch hearts, brands need to be brought into alignment with this worldview. After 13 years here, I am fundamentally convinced that there is a unifying “Confucian” conflict — between self-protection and status projection — that brands have a fundamental role in resolving. Unlike practically any other country (Korea and Vietnam come closest), China is both boldly ambitious (ladders are meant to be climbed and meritocracy is a cherished value) and regimented, with hierarchical and procedural booby traps for anyone who hasn’t mastered the “system.” This tension between upward mobility and fear-based conformism shows up everywhere, in every business meetings, in every struggle with a mother-in-law, in every new generation release on the internet. Brands that help consumers simultaneously stand out and fit in have the greatest appeal. Diamonds, for example, are popular because their sparkle is conspicuous but, at the same time, elegant and understated. The same goes for Mont Blanc’s six-point logo. Rejoice shampoo’s proposition fuses confidence and softness.

Sounds good to me, but what do you think?