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China is the 2nd largest economy on the planet, yet it's the most difficult to enter and manage well for foreign brands.

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John Kaller | The Evolving KOL And Influencer Market In China & Unpacking The Future Of Artificial Intelligence
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How changes in China’s economy and business landscape over the last four years influenced John’s work</p><p>●      Challenges faced by foreign versus local Chinese startup entrepreneurs</p><p>●      Potential advantages for foreign startup owners in China</p><p>●      Changes in the education space in China</p><p>●      The evolution KOLs and influencer marketing in China</p><p>●      Problems that unpackAI aims to solve</p><p>●      What AI is really capable of and how China is exploring these capabilities compared to America</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with John Kaller, a German entrepreneur based in China with an extensive background in AI Product Management.</p><p>John is the Co-Founder of unpackAI, an e-learning startup that makes AI and deep learning education as accessible as possible by offering affordable, virtual, and project-based bootcamps to business professionals.</p><p>He is also a Program Consultant for The Startup Yard, a global Think Tank that provides a pre-accelerator bootcamp for international budding entrepreneurs looking to kick-off their startup in China.</p><p>John volunteers his time as the Managing Director for The German Innovators in China (GINN), a nonprofit that seeks to build bridges between entrepreneurs and innovators from German-speaking countries and the innovation landscape in China.</p><p>Looking back over his four years in China so far, John has observed that “the market reorganizes itself” at a speed much faster than in Western markets. That is, in a few short years as an entrepreneur in China, John has seen trends come and go, and technological and logistical innovation is a regular occurrence. He also foresees a new wave of foreign entrepreneurs making their way into the China market in a post-COVID world.</p><p>On succeeding as a foreign startup entrepreneur in China, the biggest challenge is almost always navigating cultural barriers along with a lack of fluency in the language. But, as John says: “You’re not trying to be Chinese or trying to do ‘better’ than Chinese entrepreneurs.”</p><p>Rather, the key is for the foreign entrepreneur to position themselves as an expert in their particular industry and serve as a “gateway” into the global market for their local Chinese investors.</p><p>            John also speaks on the progressive democratization and privatization of China’s education and influencer marketing spaces. Finally, he discusses the future capabilities of AI and the differences in how China innovates in this field compared to the U.S. and Canada.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Especially in China, the moment you are able to speak the language, you are able to access such a wide field of people that you normally wouldn’t have access to because they simply don’t speak English.”</p><p> </p><p>“Doing a startup is very, very difficult. However, the set of problems that a foreign startup owner encounters in China [versus that of] a Chinese startup owner in China are just different. They’re not worse or easier—they’re just different. As a foreign founder, you have to be able to still show yourself as an expert in a certain market while being in China, while maybe not being able to speak fluent Chinese [or encountering cultural barriers.]”</p><p> </p><p>“Education in China is a huge topic because it’s seen as the lever for families to prepare their children for newfound wealth. [...] Education is a cornerstone in China. The willingness of families in China to spend and invest time and money into it is a lot higher than it is in the West.”</p><p> </p><p>“KOLs and the influencer space are wildly different from the West’s. It’s a more evolved version. Why is that? It’s because people in China, especially the current generation, have grown up with technologies that were way more embedded in their normal life. Examples of that are <em>payment</em>, <em>education</em>, and <em>social media</em>. They are a lot more ingrained in the culture using digital and phones compared to the West.”</p><p> </p><p>“Both the U.S. and Canada are far ahead when it comes to AI research. [...] These are published in papers and top journals that are widely accessible to anyone. However, the application of AI is mainly happening in China, where these techniques are actually being used and put into practice.”</p>
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Elijah Whaley | KOLs & The Influencer Marketing Industry Of China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) have evolved over the past five years</p><p>●      Co-founding one of China’s top-ranking beauty KOLs, Melilim Fu</p><p>●      The team behind Melilim Fu, and how KOLs are typically managed</p><p>●      KOLs versus Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) versus micro-influencers</p><p>●      Launchmetrics and the problems they aim to solve in today’s marketplace</p><p>●      Scaling a startup in China as a C-suite executive</p><p>●      The dramatic rise of influencers in China</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Elijah Whaley, VP of Marketing APAC at Launchmetrics, the leading Brand Performance Cloud used by Fashion, Luxury and Beauty (FLB) executives to connect with the modern consumer in a constantly changing landscape.</p><p>Elijah is also the host of the PARKLU China Influencer Marketing Podcast, a bi-monthly show which features guests who share their unique insights and perspectives on industry developments.</p><p>Elijah speaks on the development of Key Opinion Leaders, or “KOLs”, in China over the past five years. Before turning into a huge industry in China’s eCommerce space, the impetus for KOLs began with passionate fans of certain products who shared their purchase experiences with a small online community via blogging and live streaming. Elijah speaks specifically on co-founding one of China’s top-ranking beauty KOLs, Melilim Fu.</p><p>The greatest and most inexpensive approach to customer acquisition is <em>retention</em>. Elijah believes that there is too little focus being placed on customer retention, especially since the real power of retention lies in a brand’s ability to leverage these loyal customers as communication or marketing channels—Key Opinion Consumers, or “KOCs”.</p><p>            Finally, Elijah discusses the dramatic rise of influencer marketing in China—a natural evolution in consumer culture due to the country’s inclination to “feel special about themselves by being involved with a group that they consider special.”</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“The intersection between education and entertainment is the sweet spot when it comes to content marketing or content development. Everybody wants to be entertained. To be educated and be entertained at the same time provides the maximum amount of value and bang for your buck as far as your time investment into anything.”</p><p> </p><p>“I believe KOCs are something that has existed for a long time: a <em>brand advocate</em>. But it’s a <em>digital </em>brand advocate. [...] A KOC is a brand’s customer. When they talk about your product, they generate more sales. As a brand, if you’re able to identify these customers [...] you can put this label of ‘KOC’ on them and put them into a new basket and say, ‘Hey, this person is an extremely valuable asset to our organization. We need to treat this person differently and leverage them as a communications channel.’”</p><p> </p><p>“When the customer comes into the store, we need to overdeliver, surprise, and delight, and create it in a visceral way so that someone wants to take their phone out, capture it, and share it. We know that this is the most impactful way of communicating with other potential customers because it’s word-of-mouth from individuals that others know, love, and trust.”</p><p> </p><p>“Timing is the big secret in the startup world. If you can hit that wave right, if you see the swell and you start paddling and you position yourself properly, that’s the big, big secret.”</p>
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Justice Hampton | Merchandising In The Digital Era & How To Do It Effectively In China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How has merchandising transformed in the age of eCommerce?</p><p>●      Justice’s typical day as Director of Merchandising at WPIC</p><p>●      Examples of companies that exemplify effective online merchandising</p><p>●      Why it is so difficult to master online merchandising</p><p>●      Global merchandising trends, specifically focusing on trends in China</p><p>●      The future of merchandising globally and in China</p><p>●      Why did WPIC develop its merchandising capabilities?</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Justice Hampton, Director of Merchandising at WPIC Marketing + Technologies.</p><p>Justice joined WPIC in March 2021, bringing with him 15 years of experience in merchandising. He previously held roles at a number of luxury apparel brands, including Lululemon, Abercrombie &amp; Fitch, Coach, Ralph Lauren, and Club Monaco.</p><p>Justice speaks on how the world of merchandising changed forever with the rise of the digital era. At the same time, the fundamentals remain the same, and these fundamentals should, in fact, be the basis of all decisions made by the merchandising department. That is, social media and eCommerce platforms are at their most powerful when they are used to “amplify the things that you [already] do at the brick-and-mortar level”.</p><p>Asked for the best examples of digital merchandising done well, Justice points to menswear brand Mr. Porter for its masterful translation of the unique <em>visual and tactile </em>experience of shopping in-store to the online shopping environment.</p><p>Justice looks at the market in China as “aggressive” wherein consumer products are advertised—in large part by KOLs—as “need-to-haves” more often than not. Chinese consumers also spend a large amount of time on Tmall beyond browsing for products to buy. True to its name, Tmall is very much the new mall-going experience for the modern Chinese.</p><p>For every new social media platform adopted by the masses, the merchandising world evolves. From Facebook to Instagram, and now to TikTok, the online marketplace has found itself having to adapt to changing consumer trends at a faster rate than at any other time in history.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Despite all the changes, what makes a really solid merchandising strategy is being able to use digital technology to amplify the things that you do at the brick-and-mortar level. You have all these amazing ways to accentuate your product story and meet the consumers where they are on multiple platforms.”</p><p> </p><p>“One of the really cool things that certain online brands do really well is, they take best [practices for great] in-store experience and they figure out a way to replicate [them] as seamlessly as possible online.”</p><p> </p><p>“You can localize a brand by having the right look that is appropriate for the country, having the right logos, having the right copy, and having the right visual experience online. But you also have to localize the assortment. This is where the merchandising role comes in.”</p>
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Mark Dreyer | Bolstering National Pride Through Sports Performance on the Olympic Global Stage
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The economic, cultural, and athletic impact that the 2008 Beijing Olympics had on China</p><p>●      China’s reaction to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics</p><p>●      China’s expectations for the 2022 Winter Olympics and future games</p><p>●      Popular and not-as popular sports in China</p><p>●      The intersection of sports, politics, and business in China’s fitness industry</p><p>●      China’s growing interest in health and fitness</p><p>●      How China is investing in infrastructure to aid in the development of the sports industry</p><p>●      Team sports versus individual sports in China</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Mark Dreyer, a China-based media and sports professional. Mark has been based in China since shortly before the 2008 Olympics, where he has worked with several media outlets, both domestic and international.</p><p>Mark is the Marketing and Communications Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the Founder of China Sports Insider and the China Correspondent for SportsBusiness Group.</p><p>Asked how the 2008 Summer Olympics influenced China economically, Mark says that, while the event itself was not profitable for the country, the Olympics cemented China’s dramatic rise in the 2000s as a major player on the world stage.</p><p>Culturally, and in the sports world specifically, the nation gained a massive amount of soft power as a result of their virtually flawless handling of the Olympics—not to mention having won 51 gold medals—showing the world a side of China previously unseen.</p><p>Mark gives his thoughts on the growth of the Chinese sports industry as a vehicle for bolstering national pride. He shares how this intersection of sports, politics and business manifests itself, such as in the famously “manufactured” athletic prowess of NBA star Yao Ming.</p><p>However, Mark believes that the top-down nature of Chinese society is limiting the country’s potential in the world of sports. With regards to soccer, for instance, instead of allowing a “grassroots” movement to nurture a competent player base over a decade or two, the Chinese leadership would rather search for ways to create Olympic-level athletes in a matter of a few years.</p><p>Mark believes that the key to creating a thriving and enviable sports industry in China is to make sports something that people voluntarily do for fun and because they simply <em>love </em>it, as opposed to the current culture of handpicking and grooming promising players to compete solely for national pride.</p><p>In his words: “How do we get people to play sports in a way that they actually, genuinely want to?”</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“China is very, very good at the summer games, less so at the Winter Olympics. [...] Ten of their 13 gold medals are in short track speed skating. As you’d expect, that is where there is a lot of interest for the Chinese people when it comes to the Winter Olympics.”</p><p> </p><p>“When your country—when your athletes are winning gold medals—it does make it that much more exciting for your country. [...] That patriotism, that nationalism is more of a factor in China than it would be in other countries.”</p><p> </p><p>“China has always struggled to create grassroots sports. Soccer is probably the prime example. Everything here in China is top-down. It <em>is</em> a top-down society. To have success in a sport like soccer, you need to build from the bottom up. That contradiction is, in large part, what has prevented China from becoming a global soccer power as it has many, many times declared it wants to be.”</p>
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Elaine Ann | Defining UI, UX & CX for China, and the Importance of "Xperience Innovation"
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Working in the APAC market</p><p>●      The differences between UI, UX, and CX</p><p>●      What is “product-market fit” and how do you know if you’ve achieved it?</p><p>●      Why neglecting to build the right local team is one of the biggest mistakes a foreign company can make</p><p>●      Tools that Kaizor uses to collect and interpret data for clients</p><p>●      Defining the “fractional” C-suite executive</p><p>●      Elaine speaks on her seven-step methodology to creating products and services that successfully cross cultural barriers between the East and the West</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Elaine Ann, Founder and Fractional Chief Xperience Officer for Tech Startups at Kaizor Innovation, a consultancy that helps companies research, strategize and design new product/services innovation for the China market.</p><p>Elaine is the author of the book <a href="https://www.elaine-ann.com/xperienceinnovation"><em>Xperience Innovation</em></a>, in which she details a seven-step innovation methodology to guide foreign companies in creating products and services that translate well in the China market.</p><p>From 2006-2020, Elaine was the organizer for IxDA Hong Kong. Since January 2021, she has organized events for the Vancouver chapter. The nonprofit aims to advance the discipline of Interaction Design through a series of international events that bring together members of the IxD community. Today, IxDA has over 100,000 members and over 200 local groups around the world.</p><p>Elaine speaks on how she helps her clients home in on product-market fit, which includes a good amount of cross-cultural translation, whether the company in question is in the F&amp;B or health &amp; wellness space.</p><p>Without understanding differences in the market, a company will not be able to design, much less sell, a product that fits that market. Elaine explains how important this reality is, since even refrigerators and vacuum cleaners in China are designed differently to those in America.</p><p>Cars, which are primarily owned by the well-off in China, require different marketing as well. This goes especially for higher-end brands such as BMW, because owners of these cars usually hire drivers instead of driving themselves. “So, now, who is the end-user?” says Elaine. “Is it the person who buys the car or the person who drives the car?”</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Sometimes, our biggest challenge is that our clients don’t know what they don’t know. [...] Once they land in a different country and they experience the place for five-to-ten days, they notice all these nuances. But it’s harder than if they’ve never been to China.”</p><p> </p><p>“In the U.S., everybody drives. In China, the people who own cars are relatively well-off. The people who own BMWs most likely hire drivers. So, now, who is the end-user? Is it the person who buys the car or the person who drives the car? And the person who drives the car may have grown up in a village and can’t even read that well. So, the whole context changes when you’re in such a different market.”</p><p> </p><p>“China is very good at micro-innovations and refining something that already exists. But in terms of fundamental innovation, I still think that U.S. companies have an edge, and it has to do with education and culture.”</p>
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Gregory Prudhommeaux | Food Tech in China & The Impact of the Spiking Health & Wellness Industry
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      A description of the Shanghai startup scene today and how it compares to France’s and the U.S.’s</p><p>●      What it is like to be a foreign entrepreneur in China</p><p>●      How to know whether you should start your business in China</p><p>●      What most Westerners do not know about F&amp;B in China</p><p>●      Why Shanghai is not representative of China as a whole</p><p>●      How the F&amp;B space and food’s fusion with tech has developed over time in China</p><p>●      The impact of the health and wellness industry on F&amp;B in China</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with serial entrepreneur and angel investor Gregory Prudhommeaux. He is the Founder of NextStep Studio, an accelerator for businesses in food, F&amp;B and food tech-based in Shanghai. He is also a Foreign Trade Advisor for Les Conseillers du Commerce extérieur de la France.</p><p><br>Gregory is the Co-President at La French Tech Shanghai, a community aimed at gathering the local tech community with an interest in France and building bridges between major innovation hubs. The community facilitates the cross-fertilization of competencies and helps French businesses &amp; entrepreneurs to foster their development in China.</p><p><br>Gregory kicks off the conversation with his thoughts on the evolution of Shanghai’s startup scene and how it compares to France’s and the U.S.’s. While many foreigners have seized the opportunity to set up shop in China, it is a difficult process, particularly when it comes to acquiring seed funding.</p><p><br>Unlike France, which offers a number of financing options for the aspiring startup entrepreneur, China is a place where knowing the right person—and knowing how to build a relationship with them—is probably the most important factor. Gregory says that the U.S. is more casual when it comes to networking, whereas “it is a bit trickier” in China.</p><p><br>Calling Shanghai “the Los Angeles or the San Francisco of China”, Gregory says that the technologically advanced city of 25 million does not represent China’s market as a whole. This is for many reasons, including the transitory living situation of many in Shanghai, its multiculturalism, as well as Shanghai’s relative independence from fellow Tier 1 cities and the seat of power in China, Beijing.</p><p><br>Gregory goes on to speak on his journey as an entrepreneur and investor in China and why he specifically chose to specialize in F&amp;B. He explains what sets this space apart compared to the West and how Chinese attitudes toward food and beverage shape the industry. Finally, he describes the merging of food and tech and how COVID-19 accelerated many developments that were already underway.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“As a foreign entrepreneur, you can start a business anywhere around the world; but, I don’t think China is necessarily the place where you want to start. There are a lot of other difficulties, because of the Chinese culture and the Chinese tech landscape which is very different from the rest of the world. Whatever you do in China will have a lot of specificities due to the market and the digital ecosystem.”</p><p> </p><p>“Shanghai is the Los Angeles or San Francisco of China. The administrative and financial power is in Beijing. The industrial power is in Chongqing. [...] Trade is in Guangzhou or Hong Kong. Shanghai is a massive city with 25 million people [...] and very advanced, technologically speaking.”</p>
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Angela Zhang | Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism & The China's Tech Duopoly
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      What exactly is “antitrust” and why is it so important in the relationship between business and government globally?</p><p>●      What has China’s relationship with antitrust been historically, and have the events of 2008 and 2013 affected antitrust enforcement?</p><p>●      The conversations around antitrust at a time when big tech companies both in the U.S. and China are more influential than they have ever been</p><p>●      Why Angela titled her book “Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism”</p><p>●      The main consequences of China’s ascent on the global antitrust policy landscape</p><p>●      What the West often gets wrong about how Chinese policy is formed</p><p>●      Is the delay of Alibaba’s IPO due to the current state of China’s antitrust policy?</p><p>●      How Huawei is being affected by China’s antitrust policy</p><p>●      The future of U.S-China relations</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Angela Huyue Zhang, Associate Professor of Law at The University of Hong Kong and former Senior Lecturer in Competition Law at King’s College London. An expert on Chinese law, Angela Zhang has written extensively on Chinese antitrust enforcement.</p><p>Angela is the Director of the Centre for Chinese Law, which promotes legal scholarship with the aim to develop a deeper understanding of China and facilitate dialogue between East and West. She is the author of <a href="https://books.google.com.ph/books/about/Chinese_Antitrust_Exceptionalism.html?id=mL4cEAAAQBAJ&amp;source=kp_book_description&amp;redir_esc=y"><em>Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism: How the Rise of China Will Challenge Global Regulation (2021)</em></a>.</p><p>Angela’s research has helped her become a four-time recipient of the Concurrence Antitrust Writing Award, which honors the best antitrust papers published in academic journals each year.</p><p>Antitrust, which Angela defines as “an area of law that mainly deals with the anticompetitive effects arising from monopoly”, is an incredibly powerful tool for governments to rein in big monopolies—particularly big tech in the modern world.</p><p>With its state-owned economy, it was debated for a long time whether China should have an antitrust law put in place at all. But one was eventually established in 2007, in large part due to the influx of foreign multinational companies that leave domestic businesses (mostly small enterprises in those years) at risk of being left behind.</p><p>Angela describes the interdependent relationship between <em>how China regulates</em> and <em>how China is regulated</em>. She also explains why, through its sway over global antitrust policy, China is “nudging” big tech companies to become more integrated.</p><p>Angela speaks on recent and current issues surrounding antitrust and the clamping down of various big tech companies, including former President Trump’s actions against TikTok and WeChat, the delay of Alibaba’s IPO, and the Huawei situation.</p><p>Finally, Angela gives her optimistic take on the future of China’s relationship with the West.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Antitrust is an area of law that mainly deals with the anticompetitive effects arising from monopoly. But I have to clarify that having a monopoly power does not necessarily mean that a firm is in violation of antitrust law. Antitrust law only intervenes when the monopoly firm has abused its power, say by exploiting its consumers or its suppliers or have excluded competitors to the detriment of consumer welfare.”</p><p> </p><p>“The fundamental feature of the Chinese bureaucracy is that <em>power is fragmented</em>: Different agencies have a very specific scope of functions. At the same time, the division of labor is not entirely clear; so, there can be overlapping duties over a specific sector or a specific company, and that could potentially give rise to conflicts and competition among agencies. Turf wars are very common in Chinese regulation.”</p><p> </p><p>“In terms of how China regulates, its government structure is both concentrated and decentralized. You can see pervasive state influence and fierce competition among Chinese firms at the same time. That makes China an elusive target for regulation.”</p>
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Zak Dychtwald, Part 2 | China's Youth - A Restless Generation Changing The World
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      What brands can do if they want to succeed in China among the millennial and Gen-Z cohort</p><p>●      Major events that have impacted Chinese millennials similar to the Great Recession in the U.S.</p><p>●      What are the differences between millennials who grew up in the Mainland and those who studied abroad?</p><p>●      How prevalent is conspicuous consumption in the life of the average 25-to-30-year-old Chinese individual?</p><p>●      What makes a good brand in China?</p><p>●      How environmentally conscious and focused on diversity and inclusion are Chinese millennials?</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we continue our conversation with Zak Dychtwald, Founder and CEO of Young China Group, a think tank and consultancy with a focus on the emerging influence of China’s millennial generation on the marketplace, workplace, and international politics.</p><p>Zak is the author of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Young-China-Restless-Generation-Country/dp/1250078814"><em>Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World (2018)</em></a>. The book explores questions of <em>identity</em> impacting China’s young generation, specifically the 420 million or so people born after 1990.</p><p>Asked about what separates the winning foreign brands from the rest of the pack when it comes to finding millennial and Gen-Z fans in China, Zak says that it comes down to “empowering your local Chinese team to drive strategy.”</p><p>However, the difficult task for local teams when working with multinationals is that they will almost always work slower than native Chinese teams with native Chinese executives who understand, intuitively, what the Chinese market looks like.</p><p>Another point is to “stop creating products and thinking about marketing to Tier 1 cities.” Trends do not necessarily trickle down from Beijing or Shanghai to Hangzhou or Chongqin. Recognizing trends that do not originate in Tier 1 cities will give a company a head-start over other global brands whose thinking is still mired in that Shanghai bubble.</p><p>Zak goes on to peel back the curtain into the mind of the Chinese youth, from how a restructured education system in the post-Tiananmen era divided generations around how they perceive history, to how the 2008 Beijing Olympics created a newfound sense of national pride and modernization for China, and finally to how Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign in 2012 served as a huge pivot towards meritocracy for the whole country.</p><p>He then explains why Chinese students who study abroad now have greater incentives to return to China after graduating; why conspicuous consumption has moved from a need to look wealthy to a need to develop an identity; and current attitudes toward environmental friendliness, diversity, and inclusion.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Empower the heck out of your local China team and do it so that they can be fast enough to compete with local brands.”</p><p> </p><p>“The problem with the city tier visual is we imagine trends cascading downwards from Tier 1. [...] That’s not necessarily the case, and I think it’s a little bit of linguistic determinism. I think that’s the fault of the tiered idea.”</p><p> </p><p>“[Conspicuous consumption back then] was a way to posture, particularly around the wealthy class. What you have now is conspicuous consumption oriented toward brand tribes and identity.”</p><p> </p><p>“A lot of our definitions of what it means to be ‘Chinese’, even within China, are based on the past. No longer. This generation is deciding what it means to be Chinese in modernity and going into the future.”</p>
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Zak Dychtwald, Part 1 | The Identity of China's Millennial Generation
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Who are China’s millennials, and how do they differ from millennials in the Western world?</p><p>●      The downstream effects of the one-child policy on today’s market</p><p>●      The state of mental health among China’s youth</p><p>●      What employers expect from millennial hires</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Zak Dychtwald, Founder and CEO of Young China Group, a think tank and consultancy with a focus on the emerging influence of China’s millennial generation on the marketplace, workplace, and international politics.</p><p>Zak is the author of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Young-China-Restless-Generation-Country/dp/1250078814"><em>Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World (2018)</em></a>. The book explores questions of <em>identity</em> impacting China’s young generation, specifically the 420 million or so people born after 1990.</p><p>Having first arrived in China in his early 20s, Zak was amazed by the “vast chasm” between the China he was always told about, and the China he was experiencing at that moment. He was inspired to bridge that chasm, and so began his multifaceted career journey around the country.</p><p>“We believe in a people-first perspective on China for a better world,” says Zack, referring to the thesis of not only his book but of his work as a whole.</p><p>Listen in as Zak defines the unique gap in China between the strict traditionalism of the previous generations and the modernization of the new, and the “identity formation anxiety” that the youth face in trying to reconcile “the pressures of tradition and the needs of modernity”.</p><p>He also speaks on China’s education system as undervaluing innovation and people skills, and how this translates into a workforce currently in transition.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“The China that gets described to us versus the China that I was seeing and experiencing on the ground—there is a pretty vast chasm between the two.”</p><p> </p><p>“We believe in a people-first perspective on China for a better world.”</p><p> </p><p>“I call this young generation the “Restless Generation” for a reason: It’s because they are in charge of defining China’s modern identity.”</p><p> </p><p>“In order to understand the children, you have to understand the parents.”</p><p> </p><p>“In China, the biggest investment that most families will make is in their children.”</p><p> </p><p>“When we’re talking about consumption in China, it’s not a matter of <em>where </em>you’re from, but <em>when </em>you’re from.”</p>
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EPISODE 100 | Featuring His Excellency, Dominic Barton, Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China, with Executive Director at the CCBC, Sarah Kutulakos
<p><strong>Ambassador Barton Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The major trends witnessed by Ambassador Barton in China since the early 2000s</p><p>●      What lessons should the West learn from China’s drastic growth over the past two decades?</p><p>●      Why Ambassador Barton wrote China Vignettes in 2008 and the book’s main takeaways</p><p>●      Key thinkers and thought leaders in China and the broader APAC region that Ambassador Barton follows</p><p><strong>Sarah Kutulakos Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The most promising sectors in China today</p><p>●      What the West can learn from China</p><p>●      How business relationships between China and the West may change</p><p>●      Whether China is experience an over supply of white-collar workers</p><p>●      Interesting pivots that have taken place in response to the pandemic</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p><strong>Dominic Barton, Canadian Ambassador to the People's Republic of China.</strong></p><p>Previously, he spent close to 20 years working for McKinsey &amp; Company with a focus on China, at first serving as Chairman of Asia for the firm before taking the helm of Global Managing Director from 2009 to 2018 amid China’s rising prominence on the world stage.</p><p>Other leadership roles that Ambassador Barton has held in the business world include Chairman of Teck Resources and as Non-Executive Director at the Singtel Group in Singapore and Investor AB in Sweden.</p><p>Speaking on the trends he has personally seen play out over the past 15 years in China, Ambassador Barton notes that urbanization, infrastructure and logistics, education and the bolstering of human capital, and technocratic leadership have all been top priorities for the country, and will continue to be through to 2030 and perhaps even beyond.</p><p>There are many lessons that the West can take away from China’s drastic growth over the past two decades, the most important of which, according to Ambassador Barton, is to not treat China as a “monolith”.</p><p>Rather than looking at it as “China Inc.”, operated solely by its government, the U.S., Canada, and Europe would benefit from acknowledging the different layers that influence the Chinese economy, which also include small to large businesses, consumers, and regional differences between each.</p><p>Ambassador Barton goes on to touch on the main insights he covers in his 2008 book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/China-Vignettes-Inside-Look/dp/9810580916">China Vignettes</a> and why he decided to dedicate the work to the country’s <em>human </em>element.</p><p>Finally, Ambassador Barton shares his favorite key thinkers and thought leaders on China and the APAC region. Noting the importance of “balancing the macro with the micro”, he lists a wide range of resources, including works of fiction that offer unique perspectives on the Chinese people that one would not be able to find in any textbook.</p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p><strong>Sarah Kutulakos, COO &amp; Executive Director of the Canada China Business Council</strong><br>Sarah talks about her conversations with Western organizations in China regarding current market conditions and where the business world is headed in a post-pandemic society.</p><p>Canada’s exports to China have only continued to grow in 2021 since the onset of the COVID-19. In particular, the raw materials, consumer, and energy sectors have seen favorable conditions in the past year-and-a-half. In the long-run financial services should also fare well.</p><p>Sarah describes the most enthusiastic Western organizations in China in this way: “If you are aligned with China’s policies—which would include things like the five-year plan, increasing consumption for their new economic model, etc.—then you’re probably more excited about the market.”</p><p>“The ability to turn on a dime—that flexibility in business,” is the top quality that Sarah believes every company should try to emulate. Applying this to CCBC, Sarah always encourages Canadian companies to embrace speed and “be more aggressive in going after China.”</p><p>In a very short period of time, China has transformed its market into a leader with regard to its big data capabilities, and in its emphasis on the consumer as king.</p><p>Another reality that came about relatively recently is that improved education—not to mention greater access to universities today—has resulted in countless qualified Chinese nationals that are highly sought after by multinationals.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Ambassador Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“I think there’s too much of a view in the West of treating China like a monolith: <em>It’s China. It’s the government</em>. When we do that—and we all tend to want to simplify stuff as humans—we should first think about our own countries, whether that be Canada or the United States. What is an American? What is a Canadian? We’re all different. And I really think that that gets lost in the haze of ‘China Inc.’”</p><p> </p><p>“[I wrote China Vignettes because] I felt I was being too economics-driven or macro-driven [...] and not really thinking deeply enough about the people: What is the consumer like and how might they be changing?”</p><p><strong>Sarah Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“If you are aligned with China’s policies—which would include things like the five-year plan, increasing consumption for their new economic model, etc.—then you’re probably more excited about the market.</p><p> </p><p>“[Chinese] companies don’t get married to a particular business model and they move fast to meet opportunities in the market.”</p><p> </p><p>“One of the things we’ve tried to do with CCBC is to keep going at that clock speed and to encourage Canadian companies to be more aggressive about going after China, because they tend to sometimes be a little complacent and that puts us at a disadvantage versus Americans or Europeans that might be more energetic in the market.”</p>
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Joseph Constanty | Urban Mobility and Growing the World's Largest Smart Scooter Company Globally
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Joseph reminisces on his time in Beijing during its “up-and-coming” days in the early 2000s</p><p>●      How differently entrepreneurship was regarded in China from 2000 to 2010</p><p>●      How Joseph’s footwear design house became the number one seller in the shoe category on Kickstarter in 2013 and 2014</p><p>●      The opportunities that came out of Joseph’s time at Tangential Consulting</p><p>●      Best practices for setting up a business in China</p><p>●      Countries that are particularly more difficult to penetrate</p><p>●      Advantages and challenges of working at a company based in China as an ex-pat</p><p>●      The evolution, and the future, of urban mobility</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Joseph Constanty, who has been steeped in China's business world for over 16 years. Since 2016, he has been the Director of International at NIU Technologies.</p><p>As the largest smart scooter company in the world, NIU has been doubling down on its international expansion efforts as the global economy continues to rebound strongly from the lockdowns of the past year and a half.</p><p>Alongside his work with NIU, Joseph is also a Co-Founder and Advisor at NextStep Studio, an accelerator specializing in the food tech and F&amp;B companies in China.</p><p>Having entered China back in the early-to-mid 2000s, Joseph reflects on why entrepreneurs were a rare sight back in the day, and the factors that led up to China’s drastic rise to becoming a force to be reckoned with when it comes to innovation and commerce.</p><p>He compares Beijing in particular to Southeast Asia. While these countries may differ culturally from China, they are now exhibiting the same drive and resourcefulness that the tier 1 cities are known for. He regards them as primed for exponential growth in the very near future.</p><p>Joseph goes on to share how he found success in a variety of fields in China’s startup world; how he helped to build the largest smart scooter company in the world and a shoe brand that became the most funded footwear Kickstarter project two years in a row.</p><p>He also describes the advantages and challenges of working at a company based in China as an ex-pat and explains why those looking to found a company in China should consider initially establishing it as a consultancy.</p><p>Finally, Joseph speaks on changes in and the future of urban mobility through the years and how COVID has impacted the industry.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“[In the early 2000s, entrepreneurs] didn’t exist because, culturally, it wasn’t acceptable for them. Their parents, or those born between 1975 and 1985, needed to get a job, get married, buy a house, have a kid, be financially successful, and do all that by the time they’re 30. Running a startup wasn’t part of that equation.”</p><p> </p><p>“What we took away from Kickstarter was simply the power of storytelling and building a brand from nothing. We were literally building it with almost zero marketing and just riding the Kickstarter traffic and influencing those people that were interested in helping makers at the time through the story we were telling.”</p>
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Andrew Sigfrids | Architecture and Design - In China & For China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Opportunities in architecture and design within China</p><p>●      How the design space in the West differs from that of China</p><p>●      Design trends in China today and potentially going forward</p><p>●      The relationship between developers and the local government</p><p>●      The leeway designers have in localizing big foreign brands for China</p><p>●      China’s design influence beyond its borders</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Andrew Sigfrids of ASIG Design and ASIG BIM. Established in 2010, ASIG Design is a multi-disciplinary architectural design firm specializing in the interior design of restaurants and coffee shops.</p><p>With offices in Shanghai, China and San Francisco, ASIG has worked with large companies like Starbucks, ABINbev and the Li Ka-shing Foundation, as well as small independent business owners. </p><p>Andrew also heads New York-based landscape design firm Urban Terrace and San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer furniture brand CABA Design.</p><p>He speaks on his foray into the architecture and design space in China. Realizing that the industry in China seemed to offer much greater “freedom of design expression” compared to that of America, which requires newer designers to go through a “rite of passage” via years of drafting before being allowed to actually spearhead projects.</p><p>Another primary difference between the West and China is the <em>cost of construction</em>, which is much higher in the West and leads to more conservative designs. Since the cost of labor in China is lower, designers and architects are given more freedom, from the big-picture project designs to smaller interior details such as the design of sockets.</p><p>Yet another distinguishing factor in China is “a mixture of owner, client, and consumer drive for wanting something new and different, pushing people through the doors via an interesting space.” Unique, selfie-friendly spaces are also growing in popularity.</p><p>On the other hand, the West is far more driven by efficiency and brand consistency over innovation. However, many big Western brands are now embracing the reality of localization if they want to do business in China, even if that demands an almost complete rehaul of their established branding in the West.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Another factor [that differentiates America’s design space from China’s] is a mixture of owner, client, and consumer drive for wanting something new and different. [...] The general Chinese consumer is always seeking something completely new and something completely different. [...] The West is far more driven by efficiencies, in things such as service, and general brand recognition. For us, it’s about pushing people through the doors via an interesting space.”</p><p> </p><p>“You feel so free as an individual [in China]. In business, it’s the same. The government typically leaves you alone with how you want to run your business and how you want to make your money—until you get big.”</p><p> </p><p>“The path to success in China changes year after year. The success path, entering now in 2021, could actually be very different from how it was in 2016—only five years later. The consumer base has changed so much that you might actually want to go a different route in how you design your space and how that tells the story of your brand.”</p>
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Sam Michael | Pollution and Air Purification in China, & How to Nurture Strong Business Relationships in Asia
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Recent and potential developments in the Chinese business world</p><p>●      Air quality and pollution in China</p><p>●      Key mistakes that Western organizations make when they take on projects in China</p><p>●      How foreigners can nurture strong business relationships in China</p><p>●      How businesses in China can manage their relationship with the government</p><p>●      Why it is important to be on the ground in the country when doing business in China</p><p>●      AtmosAir Solutions’ target customer</p><p>●      How AtmosAir Solutions’ sales funnel in China differs from that of America</p><p>●      How negotiations take place between two parties in China</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Sam Michael, Executive Director for the China market at AtmosAir Solutions, a leading air purification technology brand from the United States. Sam made his foray into China in 2008 working in real estate, both with Asia's largest industrial developer and one of Europe's most successful luxury outlet developers. He was brought onboard AtmosAir Solutions’ Shanghai office as Executive Director of Sales and Operations in 2015.</p><p>Since arriving in China a little over a decade ago, Sam has watched the world of commerce change drastically. In response to the explosion of eCommerce solutions, malls and physical retail stores have put more focus on creating <em>experiences </em>for consumers. Hence the rise of F&amp;B in and around retail establishments in China.</p><p>Alongside this, there has also been increasing interest in the health and wellness space, including air quality—most especially for ex-pats. Sam does not see this trend slowing down in a post-pandemic world, especially since even China’s industrial sector has finally begun to prioritize air quality.</p><p>For Western companies seeking to do business in China, the number one consideration is <em>localization</em>, which can be done by finding a reliable local partner, or even a Western China expert like Sam himself, who can work alongside the organization on their strategy. By extension—and as it always has been—it helps to forge strong business partnerships, the old-fashioned, face-to-face way, in the China market.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“If I want the thing, then I’ll just buy the thing online. But people need a place to spend their time. [...] So, it’s nice to have these retail centers where the focus of their tenants has been less and less about the products that you’re going to buy and more about the experiences that you’re going to have with them.”</p>
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Jacob Cooke | China's Economic Recovery, Live-Commerce, JD Logistics' IPO, & the 6.18 Shopping Bonanza Forecast
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The state of COVID in China going into the second half of 2021</p><p>●      Why a work-from-home culture is probably not the future for China</p><p>●      How consumer trends have evolved in the past 18 months</p><p>●      Sectors to lead the charge in China’s economic growth going forward</p><p>●      What to expect at the 6.18 shopping festival this year</p><p>●      The development of the live streaming/commerce craze</p><p>●      How the IPO of JD’s logistics division will impact consumer behavior, shipping, and logistics in the China market, along with Alibaba’s competitive relationship with JD</p><p>●      How the Biden administration is doing so far with regard to the U.S.-China trade war</p><p><br></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jacob Cooke, co-founder of WPIC Marketing and Technologies, to gain an up-to-the-minute understanding of how well China is economically recovering from COVID and what consumer trends to keep an eye on.</p><p>Asked about the latest developments around COVID in China, Jacob says that the new normal is well underway: establishments are reopening and flight delays are once again a reality. The vaccine rollout has also been fairly smooth, even in big cities like Beijing.</p><p>Travel, however, is still quite restrictive, severely limiting the opportunity for ex-pats to return to the country. It is unlikely that the work-from-home culture, at least among foreigners with business in China, is here to stay. From the challenges of working in oftentimes widely different time zones to a lack of high-touch relationship-building and collaboration, Jacob simply concludes, “I don’t see work-from-home as being a thing here in China.”</p><p>Regarding the shifts in consumer trends over time, Jacob says that there has obviously been greater interest in the health and wellness space, particularly around remote classes and online education. Fashion and cosmetics, which had both seen a downturn at the onset of lockdowns, are fast becoming thriving industries once again.</p><p>Last year’s 6.18 shopping festival saw a much bigger bottom line than 11.11. With the economy’s drastic reawakening in 2021, the outlook for this year’s festival seems even brighter, especially as the popularity of live streaming/commerce continues to organically attract more people to these thriving online consumer communities.</p><p>JD Logistic’s IPO will incentivize up-and-coming eCommerce platforms to tap into the resources of these giants. By extension, these new platforms will soon have the opportunity to compete on a relatively fairer playing field as long-time monopolies finally begin to operate independently.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“I’ve never been a real huge fan of work-from-home. I think you lose a lot in the collaboration between your team members. I think you lose a lot in terms of the relationship-building, the creativity—those moments of brilliance that you get from just working together. I don’t see work-from-home as being a thing here in China.”</p><p> </p><p>“What we like about Southeast Asia as an up-and-coming market is that we’ve got income levels rising very fast, as well as it being a very young base.”</p>
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Kseniya Otmakhova | China's 'Socio-Spatial' Set of Challenges
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Using the power of design for social impact</p><p>●      Why Kseniya reframed the Belt &amp; Road Initiative as a “sociospatial set of challenges” in her thesis</p><p>●      How Ballistic Architecture Machine factors into the New Silk Road</p><p>●      China’s strengths and weaknesses in architecture and urban design</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Kseniya Otmakhova, a Schwarzman Scholar and Director of Public Relations at Ballistic Architecture Machine. Her role as a PR manager comes with a focus on furthering research on the New Silk Road with the goal of developing it into one of several of BAM’s unique “Urban Initiative” projects.</p><p>“I have a strong desire to use design for social impact,” says Kseniya, describing what initially motivated her to study urban planning at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. She also helps us understand that proposing concepts is not enough; the key is in convincing stakeholders by understanding the outcomes they desire.</p><p>Kseniya was thus drawn to the Schwarzman scholarship, not only for the professional opportunities the program would bring but also for the access she would get to sharp minds around the world (including over 100 fellow scholars) to be able to have conversations on global issues with people from a variety of backgrounds.</p><p>Listen in as Kseniya explains her thought process behind reframing the Belt &amp; Road Initiative as a “sociospatial set of challenges” in her thesis and the three themes that anchor her research.</p><p>She then describes the mission-vision of BAM, the multidisciplinary design studio based in Beijing and Shanghai, and how the studio’s focus on urban landscape design guides its research on the development of the New Silk Road.</p><p>Finally, Kseniya discusses the incredible speed and agility of development China is known for, particularly in the world of architecture and city planning, and why this can be both a strength and a weakness for the country’s urban development.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“The Schwarzman program is a one-year Master's program in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing. It’s a very young program—six years old. It’s a scholarship that was created specifically to respond to the geopolitical landscape of our current times. That means China’s growing interactions with businesses around the world and also the realization of the founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman, that there is not enough understanding of this region in the West.”</p><p> </p><p>“The Belt &amp; Road Initiative is at the scale of an entire continent. My question was: ‘What does it mean to build infrastructure for win-win collaboration—a structure that will create new people-to-people bonds?’”</p><p> </p><p>“I truly believe that the success of the Belt &amp; Road Initiative depends on the built environments and the on-the-ground conditions that are created through ‘Happy Cities’.”</p><p> </p><p>“Just building a new highway that will bring your country money is not enough to create people-to-people bonds; to foster collaboration; and to create new, vibrant environments.”</p><p> </p><p>“One of the main aspects that brings a lot of professionals—from the best architects, urban planners, and the like—to China is the speed of developments. Things get built very quickly and, as such, an architect working in China for five years might see one or two projects completed; whereas back in Europe, they might as well spend ten years behind the drawing board.”</p>
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Daphne Tuijn | Deriving Insights and Intelligence From Data In China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Why is it vital for 21st century businesses to focus on data</p><p>●      Innovations in the data and AI space in China</p><p>●      What is “growth hacking” and why is it most applied to early stage startups?</p><p>●      What distinguishes data collection and analytics in China from those of other countries?</p><p>●      The typical customer journey in China versus that of the West</p><p>●      How an expat stays on top of all the tech developments in China</p><p>●      Creating brand loyalty in China</p><p>●      How businesses can avoid data overload</p><p>●      Data collection tools businesses can use and Daphne’s favorite strategies</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Daphne Tuijn, a specialist in China’s eCommerce and technology space.</p><p>She is the Co-Founder and CEO at Chaoly, a Shanghai-based company that offers a proprietary cloud-based data platform that integrates their clients’ data together with big data sources from major Chinese platforms such as Tmall, Baidu, WeChat, Weibo and Little Red Book. Chaoly’s Insights-as-a-Service then provides actionable insights and intelligence derived from the data.</p><p>Daphne is also the Co-Founder and CEO at WebshopinChina.com, a full-service eCommerce agency with offices in Shanghai and Amsterdam.</p><p>With 900 million internet users in the country and 52% of all retail being conducted online, China is truly a pioneer in the eCommerce space, globally. This has naturally led to China becoming known for its enormous data collection capabilities; however, Daphne says that data availability is one thing; being able to use it is another. In fact, in China, “there might be too much data. As they say, ‘Data is the new oil.’ But similar to oil, data needs to be refined in order for it to be used.”</p><p>Daphne also shares her best practices for creating brand loyalty in China as well as how the role of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) differs between the Chinese and Western markets. She also touches on the various ways brands can collect data in China both personally and from third-party sources while avoiding data overload.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Data is extremely important in two ways: On the one hand, it allows you to make educated decisions instead of basing your decisions on gut feeling. [...] Using data as a preparation point to understanding the market is a good way to assess your success and to see if, indeed, you should put your money on [a decision]. Also, data helps you assess whether your performance is okay.”</p><p> </p><p>“In China, the issue is not the availability of data. On the contrary, there might be too much data. As they say, ‘Data is the new oil.’ But similar to oil, data needs to be refined in order for it to be used.”</p><p> </p><p>“You can look at the data but, ultimately, data itself is just a snapshot.”</p>
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Greg Turner | Live Sports & Entertainment Venue Management in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How sports evolved in China over the past 1500 years</p><p>●      Why team sports have been slower in China</p><p>●      The role that the Chinese government plays in sports</p><p>●      What reform in the Chinese sports industry currently looks like</p><p>●      How the sports entertainment world looks in China with regards to live events</p><p>●      How foreign organizations can connect with sports fans in China</p><p>●      What is a “venue” in China?</p><p>●      What Greg expects for the 2022 Winter Olympics</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Greg Turner, an industry leader in live sports and entertainment events and venue management in China. He is the Founder and Managing Director at High Performance, which manages and promotes events at Shantou University Sports Park. Greg himself led the development of the STU Sports Park; a $110 million project donated by the Li Ka Shing Foundation to Shantou University.</p><p>Before Greg’s involvement with STU, he served as the General Manager at XingYang Sports Culture Development, having been recruited directly by China’s first-ever Winter Olympic Gold medalist Yang Yang to manage her investment into the development of ice sports in China. During his eight months working on the initiative, Greg led his team in building up various grassroots programs for ice hockey, figure skating and short-track speed skating, establishing Feiyang as Shanghai’s premier public ice-skating facility.</p><p>Listen in as Greg talks about the factors that shaped the development of the sports industry and culture in China, from their unique government-driven character to the Soviet-era roots that motivate the nation to dominate the global sports world.</p><p>Greg then talks about the differences between sports cultures in the West and in China, what foreign organizations should focus on when looking to establish themselves in the local sports industry, and the reforms that the industry is currently undergoing.</p><p>Finally, Greg explains how live events are organized and promoted in China as well as his thoughts on the 2022 Winter Olympics.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Sports in China operates a lot different than what we’re used to—it’s very government-driven. Government policy lays the framework for how it’s going to be developing. That dates back to 1918 when the first paper that Mao Zedong published was on the lack of personal fitness for Chinese people and how that was impacting their ability to build a strong nation.”</p><p> </p><p>“[China aims to have sports consumption] become one of the new pillars of the Chinese economy. They’re shifting away from manufacturing and they’re trying to have more of a balance between service and manufacturing—maybe more on the service side. Sports are seen as part of that basket of industries that are going to develop the national economy and help it keep growing.”</p><p> </p><p>“Sports, [for the Chinese] is just one piece of the entertainment diet that they have. If they have to choose between watching their favorite player or favorite team play a game or watching a movie with friends, it’s actually a really difficult decision. If you add in dinner, they’re probably going to choose the dinner first and foremost. So, sports doesn’t have that same drive and passion that it has in the West.”</p><p> </p><p>“Doing business in China is kind of like boiling water: There’s nothing going on for a long time then, all of a sudden, everything explodes. [...] I think sports is right on the cusp of boiling point.”</p><p> </p><p>“With everything going on in the world in China and in the U.S., one of the things that I take heart in is that sports is a great uniter. We’ve seen that in the past and I hope we can see that again as we go through the next few years.”</p>
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Benjamin Wahl | The Strategic Business of Sports Solutions in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Marketing a football league in China</p><p>●      How other EU teams are finding fans in China</p><p>●      Do foreign clubs have limited time to grow their followings as the Chinese government looks to expand local football culture?</p><p>●      How different countries grow their sports and how closely China intends to follow those existing strategies</p><p>●      The future Yao Ming of football in China</p><p>●      Where the majority of Borussia Dortmund’s marketing spend is going</p><p>●      Tactics for growing a sports brand in China</p><p>●      Why China and Germany have such a strong relationship</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Benjamin Wahl, a brand strategy, business, and sports development expert. He is Head of China for the German professional football club Borussia Dortmund. Prior to this, Benjamin led the China strategy for Bayer 04 Leverkusen from 2016 to 2017, establishing a youth football academy in China in the process.</p><p>Listen in as Benjamin talks about his five-year experience as a sports solution professional working in the China market. He speaks on how his own Borussia Dortmund was able to gain a foothold in the country and the marketing efforts they have been most focused on in order to spread the club’s culture and fanbase.</p><p>Benjamin also touches on how other EU-based clubs are doing in China by comparison and what makes Germany stand out with regard to its relationship with China compared to those of other European countries.</p><p>Finally, Benjamin shares tactics that other organizations and clubs can use to grow a sports brand in China and describes Borussia Dortmund’s branding and marketing strategy that he refers to as “The Challenger Approach”.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“When I go to [local football games] I’m always surprised at what a real fan culture they already have. When I speak to fans, I think it’s common that they have two clubs here: the local club attached to a region or a city [...] and a second team in Europe.”</p><p> </p><p>“With a team sport like football, and probably even basketball, it takes time—years—to establish the sport and a big base of players.”</p>
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Charles Lavoie | Staying Consistently Creative in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Charles’s history doing business with China and his current role at WPIC</p><p>●      How Charles defines “creativity”</p><p>●      Maintaining creativity in-house versus outsourcing creativity to KOLs and KOCs</p><p>●      How brands should go about looking for KOLs or KOCs in order to maximize ROI</p><p>●      Teaching creativity</p><p>●      Differences in creative processes between the West and the East</p><p>●      How brands can stay creatively consistent in different markets</p><p>●      How foreign brands can cut through the noise in the Chinese market</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Charles Lavoie, who leads and manages WPIC Creative Labs.</p><p>Prior to joining WPIC in April 2021, Charles had served as the Marketing Director at BIOTWIN, the Director of Strategy and Business Development at PBB Creative, and China advisor to both Can Life Sports and CareerUp. He is also the co-founder of Beijing-based Infina Vodka and is responsible for the growth of the company from the ground-up to distribution across 10 different cities in China, Hong Kong, and the Northwest of Africa.</p><p>Charles’s career so far has seen him developing brands, design thinking strategies, and advertising campaigns for clients such as Acura, Uber, Daimler, Tencent, Tourism Vancouver, World Bank, as well as the Quebec and Canada Governments.</p><p>According to Charles, the challenge of the creative professional is to bridge the “gap between invention and commercialization”, which requires innovation, and not necessarily about creating something new but looking instead at the existing brand and their existing resources, and from that fashion an idea that benefits the business by being both profitable and relevant.</p><p>Listen in as Charles compares the strengths of in-house creative control to those of outsourcing creative to KOLs and KOCs. He also gives his thoughts on how to “teach” creativity to your team, navigating differences in creative processes between the West and the East, and delivering creativity through a consistent brand framework in different markets.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“[Creativity] to me is bringing past or existing concepts or inspirations together to create something new.”</p><p> </p><p>“The gap between invention and commercialization is innovation. [...] We can be creative as much as we can, but the big challenge is to be creative <em>and </em>relevant.”</p><p> </p><p>“China is way stronger in anything that is technical and the West is stronger in everything that is strategic.”</p>
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Yoann Delwarde | The Art of Sales in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How Yoann’s work with startups and founders differs from his work with corporate clients</p><p>●      Clients that Yoann typically works with as a sales trainer</p><p>●      How B2B selling has historically been done in China compared to today</p><p>●      The value of WeChat in sales</p><p>●      General differences between how sales is done in the West versus in the East</p><p>●      What Yoann has found to be the most difficult lesson for his coaching clients</p><p>●      How Chinese buyers differ from Western buyers</p><p>●      How is public speaking perceived in China and is it used as a tool for sales?</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with sales trainer Yoann Delwarde, Founder and CEO of Infinity Growth Ltd, a Shanghai-based firm that offers sales coaching and consulting to a wide range of clients, including multinationals, startups, MBA students, and accelerators and incubators.</p><p>Yoann is one of twelve Experts in Residence for Chinaccelerator and a strategic advisor for allrites, Atiom, and GloCoach. He is also a lecturer on sales management and entrepreneurship at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai as well as Emlyon business school in Écully, France.</p><p>Infinity Growth aims to bridge the Western and Chinese mindsets toward entrepreneurship to ensure that they maximize their clients’ sales capabilities. Their key indicator of success is in the fact that they primarily attract their clients via word-of-mouth.</p><p>Because “it’s so easy to lose your reputation in China”, Infinity Growth looks at their increasing clientele as a sign that their sales training approach is resonating with and leading to great results among the local entrepreneurs and business professionals they work with.</p><p>Yoann shares what distinguishes sales in China compared to America and Western Europe, including differences in buyer behavior, the role of public speaking in the business world, and how eCommerce and social media are used differently in the East and the West.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“If there’s one thing I came to understand in China, it’s to always under-promise and over-deliver. [...] It’s so easy to lose your reputation in China, it’s insane.”</p><p> </p><p>“If I take the angle of B2B sales, I think the main difference [between how sales are done in the West versus in the East] is around <em>trust</em>. In Europe, and even in the U.S., first, you make business, then you become friends. [...] In China, first you become friends, then you make business.”</p>
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Kevin Hui | Growing the Sport of Hockey in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The rise in ice hockey’s popularity in China over the past decade</p><p>●      Does the lack of infrastructure growth for hockey in China limit how much interest the sport receives?</p><p>●      How Can Life lets the Chinese youth experience the “hockey culture” that Canadians are so familiar with</p><p>●      Why has the development of hockey been emphasized in China lately?</p><p>●      How is China developing players to be potentially drafted into the NHL?</p><p>●      What is the extent of the NHL’s involvement in the growth of hockey in China?</p><p>●      Which famous hockey players have the most sought-after jerseys in China?</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Kevin Hui, a serial entrepreneur and marketer who has worked across the sports, film, education, and capital markets industries with a focus on early-stage businesses.</p><p>Kevin is the current President of Beijing-based Can Life Sports, the leading company in developing and growing ice hockey in China launched in 2011. He is also the Co-Founder of Northern Lights Media, which provides production and post-production services as well as Chinese localization of foreign content.</p><p>Kevin attributes the rise of hockey’s popularity in China to the growth of the ex-pat community in the country over the last decade. However, the 2022 Winter Olympics is what has truly skyrocketed interest in the sport. Also, in 2015, the same year the announcement was made that Beijing would host the Winter Olympics, Andong "Misha" Song became the first Chinese-born hockey player to be drafted into the NHL.</p><p>Since the spike in interest in hockey in 2015, interest has slowly receded. “Hopefully what we’re doing here [at Can Life] and what the Olympics is going to do for the industry will allow it to steadily grow,” says Kevin.</p><p>The lack of infrastructure growth in China is a huge barrier to entry for those looking to get into ice hockey. In spite of this, Kevin believes that the key to growing the sport in China is by exposing the youth to the same “hockey culture” that he and many other Canadians are so familiar with. The key to this, he says, is the <em>fun </em>factor. “When you get to experience fun, that’s just something that you don’t forget.”</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“At Can Life, we promote the competition but we focus more on the fun, the friendship, and the hockey culture that we grew up experiencing in Canada.”</p><p> </p><p>“[Growing hockey in China] is about spending five to ten years working together, failing, succeeding, failing again, and creating their own system that’s adapted to the international way of operating but creating it for the local market.”</p>
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Wendy MacKenzie Pease | Translating Global Marketing Success
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How translation technology has evolved over the past 20 years</p><p>●      The difference between translation and interpretation</p><p>●      How to train interpreters</p><p>●      Why translation and localization of content is so important in China and Japan</p><p>●      What to look for when hiring a translator</p><p>●      Examples of localization gone wrong and how to make amends if this happens to you</p><p>●      Understanding cultural and consumer nuances when translating in a foreign market</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with language translation expert Wendy MacKenzie Pease. For almost two decades, she has been the owner and President of Rapport International, which provides high-quality foreign language translation and interpretation services for businesses.</p><p>She is the author of <em>The Language of Global Marketing: Translate Your Domestic Strategies Into International Sales and Profits</em> (2021).</p><p>What differentiates Rapport from other translation services or technologies is the company’s focus on <em>culturally adaptive </em>marketing copy, which currently cannot be replicated by a computer. While Rapport does not use machine translation, it does use <em>translation memory</em>. This allows translators to record phrases or descriptions used over and over again by a particular company. Translation memory helps maintain message consistency across marketing campaigns.</p><p>According to Wendy, “Translation is written. Interpretation is spoken.” Each activity is done by professionals of different aptitudes: Translators are those who love writing and research while interpreters are naturally empathetic communicators.</p><p>Human translation and localization are so important for companies doing business in China simply because of their enormous presence in international commerce. As touched on above, today’s machine translation technologies are too inefficient and sometimes outright cumbersome to rely on for such a vital step in a business’s marketing efforts.</p><p>For foreign brands looking to translate and localize in China—or any country, for that matter—the first step is to have a detailed long-term corporate strategy, which will inform their specific marketing strategy. Finally, this leads to the creation of the company’s global, or multilingual, marketing strategy. All three of these strategies need to be clearly defined and aligned before a company enters a new market.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Translation is written. Interpretation is spoken.”</p><p> </p><p>“Be careful who you’re picking to do your translation. Even though your business partners may speak English well, they may not understand it enough to do the translation. [...] Make sure that you’re getting a professional who’s a trained translator.”</p>
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Professor Min Ye | The Chinese and Asian Political Economies
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The evolution of China’s outbound foreign direct investment</p><p>●      Is China’s outbound FDI being used primarily for political or economic reasons?</p><p>●      Where outbound FDI is headed in the next five years</p><p>●      Differences between China’s bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements</p><p>●      How partner nations have changed their approach to China over the years</p><p>●      The future of the Belt and Road Initiative</p><p>●      How U.S-China relations will evolve under the Biden administration</p><p>●      Where opportunities for the U.S. to collaborate with China lie</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Professor Min Ye, an author and an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. Her expertise includes Chinese political economy, China and India comparison, East Asian international relations, and globalization with focuses on transnational immigration and foreign investment.</p><p>Min Ye gives a broad overview of how globalization, state capitalism, and outbound foreign direct investment have evolved in China in the last few decades. She describes China as a “latecomer economy in Asia”. When the country opened itself to doing business internationally in the late 1970s, it embraced outbound FDI because it had to fast-track its technology and manufacturing sectors and make exports earn foreign exchange as quickly as possible.</p><p>Due to the COVID-19 crisis, alongside shaky U.S.-China relations, outbound FDI may see a change in strategy to adapt to the reorganization of global supply chains. Also, there will be a greater focus placed on China’s digital, health, and ecological sectors.</p><p>With regard to free trade agreements of any kind, Min Ye explains that China will always take the most pragmatic approach that is conducive toward globalization. “It depends,” she says, “on China’s internal readiness and the external environment.”</p><p>Asked about the future of the BRI, Min Ye says that, after eight years of laying the foundation for this massive global infrastructure development strategy—and not to mention on the heels of the pandemic—China is now much clearer on what they can and cannot accomplish. She expects “a sharper focus and a clearer context” going forward, including a more risk-conscious strategy, a willingness to cooperate more amiably with recipient governments, less of a need to “create political and social impact”, and a greater focus on digital infrastructure—which is to be the BRI’s core.</p><p>Finally, Min Ye believes that, with a less hostile approach, the U.S. will be able to better cooperate with China under the Biden administration, especially today when the two countries are sharing pressing concerns around public health, climate, business, and data security.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Because I understand that domestic politics in Asia typically shape their regional economic policies, I created this framework called ‘Critical Juncture’: When a crisis occurs, domestic leadership and policy networks interact across countries and that leads to new institution-building in the region.”</p><p> </p><p>“[With regard to bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements,] Chinese elite thinking and policy establishments do have strong convictions toward globalization. But their perspective on globalization is very pragmatic, so it doesn’t really prioritize one way or another. [...] It depends on China’s internal readiness and the external environment.”</p><p> </p><p>“In dealings with China, style matters hugely. I feel like Americans suddenly forgot that it’s about creating relationships when you work with China.”</p>
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Jim Dunn | The Future of Building Design, Construction, & Delivery
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      What are modular buildings and why are they generally stronger than regular buildings?</p><p>●      Stack Modular’s typical customer</p><p>●      How developed is the modular housing industry in China?</p><p>●      The limitations of modular housing and how they are overcome</p><p>●      Shipping modular buildings across the ocean and keeping them intact</p><p>●      3D printing and home manufacturing</p><p>●      Why Stack Modular has no local customers in China</p><p>●      How COVID-19 has affected Stack Modular’s business operations inside China and sales outside of China</p><p>●      How Jim, a foreigner, is able to manage a business with so many moving parts in China</p><p>●      What the future holds for Stack Modular</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jim Dunn, President at Stack Modular, a Vancouver-based construction company that manufactures modular buildings for residential, hospitality, commercial, and resource sectors. He is also the President of Dunn Global, Ltd., a Shanghai-based procurement firm now considered the leader in Chinese manufactured housing exported to North America.</p><p>From his native Canada to Los Angeles to Africa to China, Jim’s passion for the building world brought him globe-trotting opportunities through the years. Today, Jim splits his time between China and North America pushing Stack Modular into exciting new modular fields, from resource housing to hotels to office spaces.</p><p>The modular housing industry in China has grown exponentially in the last several years, surpassing even the industries of the West. This came after a realization that buildings can be built faster, cheaper, and stronger, and that these can be produced at scale.</p><p>Jim goes on to talk about the unique budgetary, logistical, and labour-related challenges that come with the territory for Stack Modular, why the construction industry has yet to undergo major innovations in 2021, and how the pandemic has impacted Stack Modular’s business operations both inside and outside China.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Over the last half a dozen years, China says to itself, ‘Wow, you can build a building faster, cheaper, and stronger in a factory environment. They saw something that made sense and they acted on it. Here in Canada, we’re slow to act.”</p><p> </p><p>“People have reinvented every industry that you and I use every day, whether it’s communication, technologies, textiles, or agriculture. Everything’s been reinvented, except construction. Construction is the low-hanging fruit.”</p><p> </p><p>“If you can’t hire quality people, passionate people, loyal people, your business will never take off, much less in China.”</p>
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Chloé Goncalves | Exfoliating China's Cosmetics Industry
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      A general overview of the cosmetics market in China</p><p>●      The most popular beauty products in China compared to the rest of the world</p><p>●      The popularity of live streaming in the beauty space</p><p>●      A primer on Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs)</p><p>●      How consumer behaviors in China differ from those in the West in the cosmetics market</p><p>●      Hero products by the largest cosmetics brands in China</p><p>●      Why there are significantly more male consumers for beauty products in China than in the West</p><p>●      Advice for cosmetics brands looking to enter China</p><p>●      Cutting-edge marketing tactics particular to China</p><p>●      What up-and-coming companies are doing to compete with large, even global, brands</p><p>●      How COVID-19 has affected the Chinese cosmetics industry</p><p>●      L'Oréal’s China strategy</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Chloé Goncalves, Asia E-Commerce Manager at L'Oréal. Previously, she served at Alibaba as a Digital Marketing Manager, working up to the role of International Business Development Manager for Tmall Global before leaving the company in January 2021 to work with L'Oréal.</p><p>The cosmetics market has grown exponentially for the past several years, and today is the second-largest in the world after the U.S, with an estimated revenue of $22 billion—an amount that is expected to triple by 2024. 25% of sales take place via E-Commerce, and this number has been rising faster than ever thanks to COVID-19.</p><p>Chinese women generally have a more extensive skincare routine than those in the West. Skin whitening products are also a staple in the market. Also, because of the high pollution problem alongside high-stress lifestyles, Chinese consumers tend to seek products that address specific problems, including blemish, wrinkle, and acne removers. Finally, there has been a rise in the popularity of male grooming, which includes makeup, in China.</p><p>Live streaming is hugely popular in the beauty industry in China. The country is the largest live streaming industry in the world today, with the pre-COVID number of over 500 million live streamers having no doubt skyrocketed in the past year.</p><p>Chloe mentions that Chinese consumers use E-Commerce not only to <em>save</em> time but to <em>spend </em>time. That is, even without the intention of buying anything, they visit platforms like Taobao or Tmall to watch live streams or read blogs not just from Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) but, even more so, from Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs). There are now more than 100 apps and platforms in China that offer live streaming features.</p><p>For foreign brands looking to enter the Chinese cosmetics market, Chloé’s first tip is to find great local partners to take care of operations, marketing, and logistics. Her next piece of advice is to home in on ten key, hero products that would best fit China’s particular market instead of bringing in its entire suite. Her final tip is to invest in a marketing strategy that will help the foreign brand cut through the noise that is made up of countless existing brands as well as countless existing E-Commerce and content creation platforms.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“What’s really interesting in China is that consumers use E-Commerce not to <em>save</em> time, as we would do in the West, but to <em>spend</em> time. So, even though they don’t want to buy anything, they would connect on Taobao and Tmall to watch live streams and videos and read blogs and articles.”</p><p> </p><p>“[For brands looking to enter China,] the first tip would be to find the right partner; especially if you’re a small brand and don’t know the market well, you really need to have a local partner that will help you do all the operations, the marketing, the logistics, etc.”</p><p> </p><p>“China is a long-term journey. In terms of investment, we usually advise brands to invest 20-30% of their annual sales target in marketing to make sure that they can achieve their sales forecast and sales goals.”</p>
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Mark Kristofic | The Boom of Winter Sports in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Factors that developed Mark’s interest in doing business with China</p><p>●      Building relationships with Xinhua News Agency and Tencent</p><p>●      The demographics of the ski industry in China and why locals prefer to ski abroad</p><p>●      Promoting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and local winter sports in general</p><p>●      Ski locations in China</p><p>●      The economic drivers behind the development of ski hills</p><p>●      Why many resorts in China have not been able to develop year-round destinations</p><p>●      What about ski TV appeals to Chinese audiences</p><p>●      The difference between programming for a Chinese audience and a Canadian audience</p><p>●      Emerging winter sports in China</p><p>●      What the future holds for ski TV in China</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Mark Kristofic, Managing Partner at S-Media, a television, print and digital production company that provides advertising, marketing, and production in Canada and China. S-Media also owns Snowsports Media, which includes a ski travel show featuring different destinations around the world. Mark is also partnered with the nonprofit events management company, World Snowsports Events Group.</p><p>Because skiing worldwide had been relatively flat in terms of growth, Mark identified China as an emerging sports market. His interest in expanding into the market only grew with the announcement of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where sports would be a state-sponsored initiative.</p><p>In October 2017, S-Media began talks with Xinhua News Agency. They had their first meeting in Beijing that December and, only a month later in January 2018, began filming around China, their partnership official.</p><p>Asked how S-Media was able to build a relationship with Xinhua, Mark says that there were two keys to their success. For one, “they actually wanted the Western validation of the ski industry.” Secondly, they focused their messaging on the two elements that Xinhua wanted to highlight: regional culture (depending on where they were filming) and how the development of snow sports in China led toward their goal of hosting a successful Olympics.</p><p>S-Media has since partnered with Tencent as well. Mark explains how his company, working alongside Xinhua and Tencent, programs for a Chinese audience compared to a Canadian one. He also goes on to speak on winter sports in China in general, and how the upcoming Olympics is contributing to the industry’s growth around the country.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Once we had that formula where we knew we needed to talk about the ski area, their preparedness for the Olympics, and the culture, then it became quite simple to produce the product [for Xinhua].”</p><p> </p><p>“The content that we built for Xinhua was really information-driven and coming from the mouth of the government. We did have a massive number of views, but whether that was appealing to the audience or not, we don’t really know.”</p><p> </p><p>“What really resonates with the Chinese viewers from an entertainment standpoint is having influencers and celebrities involved.”</p>
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James McGregor | US-China Relations Pt. 2, The Last 4 Years & The Next 4 Years
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      An autopsy of the Trump administration with regard to U.S.-China policy</p><p>●      Why the conversation around China has changed dramatically in recent years</p><p>●      Does China just not care how it is perceived globally?</p><p>●      The secretive nature of the CCP</p><p>●      Is there more transparency between the U.S. government and citizens today?</p><p>●      What to expect from U.S.-China relations during the Biden administration</p><p>●      How technology and security will fare throughout the Biden administration</p><p>●      Has there been an increase in racial tensions around Asian-Americans?</p><p>●      New “big players” to watch out for in the U.S.-China story</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with James McGregor, author, journalist, and Chairman of APCO Worldwide, Greater China.</p><p>To James, the U.S. has “changed the conversation on China, globally.” Since China had “overreached and gone too far”, particularly following the rise of Xi Jinping to power, pushback would have been inevitable even if Hillary Clinton was elected.</p><p>One of Trump’s successes was to have brought attention to China’s activities in Xinjiang via sanctions and the blocking of imports. However, James believes that Trump left U.S.-China relations in a messy state that Biden now has to clean up, pointing to Trump’s mercantilist policies that address none of the major problems between the two countries.</p><p>China may have seen America and Western Europe as experiencing “inexorable decline” in the last couple of decades, especially after the Global Financial Crisis, of which China was spared—just as it was spared from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, for that matter. These observations and more may have led China to believe that its time had come to become a global superpower.</p><p>“China considers themselves a great country and that it’s up to us to realize that,” says James. “They operate in a very closed world.”</p><p> </p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“[The U.S.] changed the conversation on China, globally. There was a pushback coming even if Hillary had been elected because the business community was exhausted with China and so was much of the world’s diplomatic community because China had just overreached and gone too far.”</p><p> </p><p>“China considers itself a great country and that it’s up to us to realize that. They operate in a very closed world.”</p><p> </p><p>“[U.S.-China relations under Biden] is going to be smarter but it’s going to be very rocky because China does not seem to be willing to bend in any direction. It’s got its narrative and it's going to stick to it.”</p>
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Anne Stevenson-Yang | US - China Relations, The Last 4 Years & The Next 4 Years
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      An autopsy of the Trump administration with regard to U.S.-China policy</p><p>●      Reasons for the dramatic change in the West’s perception of China in recent years</p><p>●      Does China just not care how it is perceived globally?</p><p>●      What to expect from U.S.-China relations during the Biden administration</p><p>●      Will the tariff war end during the Biden administration?</p><p>●      How the Chinese tech industry will involve in the next few years</p><p>●      New “big players” to watch out for in the U.S.-China story</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Anne Stevenson-Yang, Co-Founder and Research Director of J Capital Research, on the overall successes and failures of the Trump administration as it relates to its U.S.-China policy.</p><p>To Anne, Trump “really flubbed international policy, particularly with China” and is hard-pressed to find a single success with regard to relations between the two countries. However, she attributes much of the current hostility between the U.S and China—as well as increasingly negative global perceptions of China—to Xi Jinping himself.</p><p>“The most important thing for the U.S.-China relationship,” says Anne, “is to be the America that we used to be or that we try to be.” This means more focus on the import of talent, an innovation center for technology, and a diverse collection of people looking to come to America to join startups. One of Trump’s missteps then, according to Anne, is that he has slowed <em>legal </em>immigration as opposed to only illegal immigration.</p><p>The West’s perspective of China has undergone a dramatic change in recent years. Anne says that this is due to two major factors: a reduction in money flow into China from America and, more crucially, Xi Jinping’s rise to power in 2012. His Belt and Road Initiative, for example, “has no particular purpose except to obscure China’s money management” and has led him to antagonize the countries targeted by the BRI. She also mentions the “money sink” that were China’s smart mega city projects.</p><p>In spite of China’s hardliner image on the world stage, its leadership has demonstrated throughout the years that it is open to negotiation. Anne says that Biden would do well to rekindle the relationship between the two countries and take a more nuanced and selective approach when it comes to rejecting elements that do not align with the U.S.’s interests. His top priority should be, and probably will be human rights. While China’s policies toward Xinjiang and Hong Kong are unlikely to fundamentally change anytime soon, “there are ways to ameliorate” current conflicts.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“It’s really hard to find a success. We’re looking at a much bigger trade gap than we used to have, a lot of hostility, a reduction in interchange between the two countries. What has been gained, exactly?”</p><p> </p><p>“The most important thing for the U.S.-China relationship is to be the America that we used to be or that we try to be.”</p><p> </p><p>“The general hostility toward China and the labelling of China as an evil actor just doesn’t really accomplish anything. It is not focused on anything.”</p><p> </p><p>“It’s this zero-sum game [for China]. You treat absolutely everything as a zero-sum game because it’s more important to maintain the image of infallibility than it is to actually accomplish policy.”</p>
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Jacob Cooke | US - China Relations Outlook 2021 & Beyond
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      U.S.-China relations under President Biden</p><p>●      What Biden’s top priorities should be with regard to China</p><p>●      How much of the tariff war is really just about knowing how to apply for exemptions?</p><p>●      How the tech sector has been impacted by tariffs</p><p>●      The changes in manufacturing, distribution, and consumption throughout 2020</p><p>●      China’s shifting relations with other countries regarding supply chain logistics and commerce</p><p>●      Addressing “cracks” in the Belt and Road Initiative</p><p>●      Will U.S. business and consumers benefit under a Biden administration?</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jacob Cooke, co-founder of WPIC Marketing and Technologies.</p><p>There has obviously been a lot of talk about how U.S.-China relations will be affected under Joe Biden’s presidency. But Jacob does not expect there to be major changes because the administration will, for at least its first half, have its hands tied with internal issues. He also suggests that many on both sides of the aisle may have overestimated how the tariffs will be handled by the new administration within the next four years.</p><p>“At the end of the day,” he says, “the people on the ground are still trading at record numbers.” There are more exemptions being put on current tariffs all the time, both on China <em>and</em> the United States. Even without travel, business is still being done between both countries and is growing at a promising level.</p><p>The supply chain is particularly complicated when it comes to technology. With all that complexity, if even one element is hampered, the entire process is impeded. For instance, there are automobile lines shut down right now in China (and in other parts of the world) because they are not receiving the right chips.</p><p>“There’s going to be more homegrown tech all over the place,” says Jacob, speaking on just one factor in the ongoing evolution of manufacturing. The other side of the coin, distribution, has been and will continue to see global changes as well. Many companies now seek, more than ever, diversified supply chains to stay on top of these changes.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“I don’t think there’s going to be additional tariffs put on anything. You can apply for exemptions for your individual products. We’ve been pretty lucky that we’re getting those exemptions on imports into China about 75% of the time.”</p><p> </p><p>“I think it depends on the size of the enterprise more than it does on the geographical location. If there’s an issue with the United States, they’re going to go after Apple and Boeing. The other 700 or 800 companies that do business out here [in China] are really going to fall under the radar. If anything happened with Sweden, expect IKEA to get picked on, but really, nobody else.”</p><p> </p><p>“Every time an election cycle comes, people with very high expectations end the cycle really disappointed. Everybody juxtaposes on Biden what they want to see; but in general, the coalition who brought him to power is very fragmented, and a lot of them aren’t going to get what they want out of this administration.”</p>
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Bill Tung | Is Fitness Fashion Big in China & Japan?
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The explosion of fitness culture in Asia</p><p>●      Mainland China’s consumer sporting goods market</p><p>●      Columbia’s brand strategy for the Chinese market</p><p>●      Differences between the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean sports apparel markets</p><p>●      How the 2008 Beijing Olympics impacted the country’s sports apparel market</p><p>●      Establishing a digital and physical presence as a new sports brand in China</p><p>●      Do big-box stores for sports apparel exist in China, or are they independently managed?</p><p>●      The current state of Japan’s sports apparel market</p><p>●      How Japan’s work culture influences shopping habits</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Bill Tung, who currently works as Managing Director at Peaks Consulting. Bill discusses the rise of the sports apparel world in China, Japan, and Korea, which he experienced firsthand as Vice President of International Sales and Market Expansion at Columbia Sportswear.</p><p>Bill recalls, upon joining Columbia in 2003, that China was “virgin territory” for the brand. Working with their distributor in Hong Kong, they explored potential strategies to introduce their products into the Chinese market. While Columbia was eventually able to foray into the country—and gradually built brand recognition with in-store marketing—it turned out to be a huge challenge because very few Chinese engaged in outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, camping, or trail running.</p><p>Indeed, one of the more unique elements of the sports apparel market in China is that <em>fashion</em>, rather than function, is the biggest selling point for most consumers. Compared to Japan or Korea where people buy these products for the sport or to stay warm, Chinese consumers of sports apparel tend to value style over technology. Columbia’s success in all three markets is owed to the company’s “flexibility and foresight to localize design” while keeping “the DNA and the history of the brand intact.”</p><p>New brands looking to enter a foreign market need a multipronged approach going in, and it starts with everyone in the organization, from the C-suite to the rank and file, embodying that global mindset. Marketing and product design has to be specifically tailored to the unique culture of the country in question.</p><p>With regard to China, the most important part of any marketing strategy is building brand awareness through local eCommerce and social media platforms. But the company has to have a physical presence as well because part of the experience for the consumer is <em>feeling</em> the product.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“For Columbia, it was very much dictated on the features, advantage, and benefits of the product to justify those price points. In China, anybody could buy a down jacket, but why would they buy your products?”</p><p> </p><p>“For a new brand that’s looking to go into China, whether you’re a sporting leisure brand or a luxury brand, it’s all about getting online.”</p><p> </p><p>“Ignore the concept of Japanese uniqueness at your peril.”</p><p> </p><p>“If you can satisfy Japanese consumers’ expectations about quality, you have the rest of the world covered.”</p>
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Radley Mackenzie | The Rising Tide of Sports in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The landscape of sports in China today</p><p>●      How motivation to go into sports differs between kids in China versus kids in the West</p><p>●      The development of sports infrastructure in China</p><p>●      The importance of sports celebrities in driving the popularity of sports in China</p><p>●      Popular sports in China today</p><p>●      Physicality in Chinese sports</p><p>●      Educating Chinese parents in the world of sports</p><p>●      Chinese athletes going international</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Radley Mackenzie, Founder and CEO at SinoSports Development, “a China-focused international sports and education platform, supporting Asian student-athletes with online and offline expertise and exposure” based in Toronto. Radley is also the President of consulting firm Radley Hall International and the Toronto Representative for high-tech manufacturing company Saimen.</p><p>To this day, education is a higher priority for the youth in China than the arts or sports. Radley notes that, originally, “sports in China was closely tied to national program development. The Chinese government has always thought sports were an important flagship for them globally.” He likens it to the Soviet approach to national pride.</p><p>The government’s traditional approach was to handpick who they consider to be the best performers and optimize their athletic capacity in isolation, i.e. without the support athletes in most other countries enjoy.</p><p>Fortunately, this decade has seen a wider adoption of sports. On one hand, parents now see sports as a great way to complement their children’s education at school. On the other hand, the government itself now sees the economic benefits of sports and has encouraged wider participation in recent years. In fact, the Chinese government has announced that they would like to have 300 million winter sports enthusiasts involved in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.</p><p>Over the last 20 years, badminton, ping pong, and martial arts have been the most popular sports in China. Western sports have seen massive growth in more recent years, in particular basketball, soccer, and tennis. Last year, according to the NBA commissioner, there were 300 million basket players in China. Today’s soccer players number around 30 million, and tennis players around 15 million. Figure skating is also seeing greater popularity, with around 1 million skaters across China.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Originally, sports in China was closely tied to national program development. The Chinese government has always thought sports were an important flagship for them globally.</p><p> </p><p>“SinoSports was originally founded on increasing human contact between coaches and players in both markets.”</p><p> </p><p>“Sports are a sector right now where China is desperate and eagerly looking for foreign expertise and have recognized that they can’t do it alone.”</p><p> </p><p><strong>Resources Mentioned:</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.sinosportsdevelopment.com/">SinoSports Development</a></p><p><a href="mailto:radley@sinosportsdevelopment.com">radley@sinosportsdevelopment.com</a></p><p>WeChat: radleym</p>
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John Pomfret | The Biden Administration's Approach to China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Where the recent shift in perception of China’s global power originated</p><p>●      The future of U.S.-China relations as China increases its manufacturing capabilities</p><p>●      How the Biden administration’s attitude toward China compares to that of Trump’s</p><p>●      How economically-tied the U.S. and China currently are</p><p>●      What Biden’s return to multilateral institutions (i.e. WHO) means for U.S.-China relations</p><p>●      Ways in which China is trying to surpass the U.S. as a world power</p><p>●      How the rest of the world views China today</p><p>●      What many in the West do not understand about China’s internal challenges</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with John Pomfret, foreign correspondent and contributor to the Washington Post. He is the author of <em>The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China from 1776 to the Present </em>(2016).</p><p>Xi Jinping’s rise to power in 2013 was the beginning of a new phase in China’s evolution as a nation. Up until that point, the CCP believed that “China was becoming increasingly infected by ideas from the West.” Xi Jinping galvanized the party against Western thinking, cracking down against dissidents and human rights lawyers. He then accelerated a relatively aggressive foreign policy against the rest of the world, but specifically within China’s neighborhood in terms of the South China Sea, pushing back against Japan, India, and others in the region.</p><p>China’s first push to decouple from the West also came with the announcement of the ten-year “Made in China 2025” plan. It is another aggressive plan to bolster the nation’s own sovereignty by severing its alliances with Western technology companies that it has heavily relied on in the past.</p><p>The failure of America and Western Europe to effectively deal with certain problems in today’s world, particularly with regard to COVID-19, when China claims to have done a better job dealing with the pandemic within their borders, has also led to a dramatic shifting of China’s image on the world stage.</p><p>John says that, with America currently trying to get their own house in order, the U.S.-China relationship is <em>not </em>going to be a priority of the Biden administration until Biden can really concretize his position as a relatively successful president in his first two years. China’s aggressive, imposing diplomacy in other parts of the world, in the meantime, continues to negatively impact how China is viewed by other nations.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“The Chinese Communist Party would like to deal with a world in which America is irrelevant. The reality is, though, it can’t. Even in terms of technology, it’s going to be a long while before China can have potential in any way, shape, or form to become independent from the United States, specifically high-level chip technology.”</p><p> </p><p>“The idea that decoupling on a massive scale is going to happen is just a non-starter. The issue is: How do we make the relationship while you also have an understanding that it’s going to be increasingly difficult and the competition is going to be increasingly fervent between the two systems and the two economies?”</p><p> </p><p>“By trying to get the American house in order—which is a Herculean task, mind you—Biden is going to follow the ideas of many people around him saying, ‘We cannot really deal with China from a position of weakness. The only way we’re going to be able to get things done with China is if we come to China from a position of relative strength.’”</p><p> </p><p>“China’s trade surplus with the United States was breaking records over the last four years. The amount of business that continues to be conducted between the two sides is extraordinary.”</p><p> </p><p>“The Chinese are uncomfortable with the American-led system but they don’t quite know how to lead themselves.”</p>
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Dr. Gang Lu | Building a Tech Media Empire in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How Gang Lu became the founder of the premier tech media in the country</p><p>●      The transition from a competitive to a collaborative startup environment in China</p><p>●      The connection between changing family dynamics and the rise of innovation and entrepreneurship in China</p><p>●      The business of media in China</p><p>●      All about BEYOND Tech Expo 2021 in Macau</p><p>●      The future of the 996 working hour system</p><p>●      Gang Lu on the U.S.-China trade war</p><p>●      The current state of blockchain in China</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with tech influencer Gang Lu, Founder and CEO of TechNode.com. Formerly known as MOBINODE.com, Technode.com today is “the leading bilingual tech media in China covering startups and large listed companies, entrepreneurial community, and angel/VC investment activities.” Gang Lu is also the Co-Founder of OpenWeb.asia Workgroup, a blogging network focused on the Asian web industry and enhancing “the intercommunication of local Internet markets.”</p><p>Gang Lu speaks to the parallels between the relatively recent relaxing of the top-down cultural dynamic in the Chinese family and workplace as the key that sparked the level of entrepreneurship that we see in the country today. With the government now encouraging the growth of new tech startups, Chinese society has become ripe for innovation that, according to Gang Lu, is only beginning.</p><p>The world of media is obviously very different in China than it is in the West. For one, copyright is not enforced at nearly the same level, leading to a lot of outright plagiarism between companies. Advertisements are also valued much lower in China. Instead, to stay profitable, media companies rely heavily on sponsored articles. It of course follows that since articles can be commissioned by outside parties, the integrity of the information being published is often questionable.</p><p>With the rise of the tech industry in Asia, TechNode, in collaboration with the Macao International Grand Events Promotion Association, is organizing the first two-day BEYOND International Technology Innovation Expo at the Venetian Macau on June 17, 2021. Gang Lu believed the time had come to shine a spotlight on Asia-based tech startups and other companies at an Asian venue instead of in the West where most of these events are usually held. Calling Macau “the Vegas of Asia”, he pinpointed the Venetian as the perfect place to kick off the first BEYOND Expo.</p><p>Finally, Gang Lu speaks on the 996 culture, the U.S.-China trade war, and blockchain. To these three developing topics, he adopts a <em>wait-and-see</em> mindset, saying that China does not currently seem to be budging in its big-picture economic priorities despite (or maybe because of) the ongoing pandemic, increasing global dependence on digital solutions, and the transition of power in the U.S.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“I think, before 2011, you didn’t see that many startups. But after 3G took off, suddenly you saw the mobile market booming.”</p><p> </p><p>“If we look at the global tech space, there are so many new companies that are not in the States or Europe. They are in China and other Asian countries. We need not just an event, but a platform where people can go every year to showcase their technologies and innovations in Asia.”</p><p> </p><p>“Why is China moving so fast? I think China, for many reasons, is able to open the market to adopt new applications and infrastructures like 5G.”</p>
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Nabil Sabet | The Future of Workspace Design in China
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How workspaces change as people’s work change</p><p>●      Efficient communication with clients in the design space</p><p>●      Redefining the purpose of the office</p><p>●      Differences in the work environment in China versus the West</p><p>●      The impact of COVID-19 on the way work is done in China</p><p>●      Commercial architecture in China</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Nabil Sabet, Group Director at global workplace design firm M Moser Associates in North America and Greater China. The company “has specialized in the design and delivery of workplace environments since 1981, with clients from the corporate, private healthcare and education sectors.” Nabil’s experience in the China market goes back to 2006 when he worked as a space manager at M+W Group in Shanghai.</p><p>Nabil shares his thoughts on evolving work environments as the nature of work itself changes. He also discusses how different sectors vary in their understanding and appreciation for workspaces that are appropriate to what they do. Ownership of space in the tech sector, for example, is relatively low because there is a lot of sharing of spaces. Legal work, on the other hand, is done in more segmented, even hierarchical, spaces.</p><p>However, Nabil says that the COVID crisis has put the office space in “an existential crisis”. Due to the many uncertainties that most businesses continue to face moving forward into 2021, Nabil and his team are spending a lot of time “redefining the purpose of the office altogether.” He also explains how China in many respects was able to rebound relatively quickly in spite of the pandemic.</p><p>Nabil gives his observations on the differences between how Westerners and the Chinese approach work, and how these differences impact the design of their respective work environments. He says that the workforce in China “really has a strong sense of obligation” to the country, the company, the team, and their leaders. This collective attitude makes work incredibly fast and efficient. In the West, there is “a stronger sense of rights and individuality”, meaning organizations spend more time creating consensus among their people.</p><p>M Moser owes its effectiveness as a design firm to its complete focus on environments to which people go to work, including research centers, office spaces, innovation centers, and so on. This narrow focus allows them to collect an abundance of data and a thorough understanding of both “the hard stuff and the soft stuff”.</p><p>There are many factors that go into an office that is totally dependent on the nature of the work to be done, and M Moser positions itself as a company that “owns the entire problem”.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“When people’s work changes, then the environments that support that work also need to change.”</p><p> </p><p>“The office is a gathering place for the team. The real purpose of the office is for people to come together. Yes, there’s an element of focus: You go to the office and you focus and you work. But, largely, the reason we will be going to the office is for human connection. It’s for connecting to other team members; corralling around a common purpose; getting inspired about our work and seeing our contributions as part of a team.”</p><p> </p><p>“Depending on where you live in the world and the culture, the home setting can be more conducive or less conducive to remote work.”</p>
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Matt Sheehan | Semiconductors & Digital Sector Sub-Cultures
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      The increasing simultaneous “closeness” and “friction” between California and China</p><p>●      What makes California special to China as opposed to other U.S. states?</p><p>●      Matt speaks on co-hosting the <em>Heartland Mainland: The Iowa China Podcast</em></p><p>●      Emerging tech trends in China</p><p>●      Eroding trust in Chinese tech platforms</p><p>●      Key takeaways on MacroPolo’s October 2020 report on what China will look like in 2025</p><p>●      How AI, blockchain, and other emerging technologies will transform Chinese society</p><p>●      How China is able to consistently stay on the cutting edge of AI</p><p>●      Why China has been incredibly malleable and willing to overhaul its society over time</p><p>●      What Silicon Valley thinks of Chinese tech</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Matt Sheehan, Fellow, and Researcher at MacroPolo, the digital think tank of The Paulson Institute. MacroPolo covers politics, economics, technology, and energy in China. Matt’s portfolio features writings on technology in China and its interactions with the U.S. and the rest of the world. His subfield focuses on artificial intelligence, a topic to which he has dedicated 90% of the last three years of his work.</p><p>In 2016, Matt wrote <em>The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for our Future</em>. His thesis for the book is that “California is Ground Zero for a new era and a new type of U.S.-China relationship.”</p><p>Matt notes that the relationship between the U.S. and China back in 2010 was characteristically more distant and “trade-based”. Around 2018, that relationship had become more “ground-level and face-to-face” as a result of the opportunities generated via the gradual influx of Chinese students, investors, immigrants, and homebuyers over the years. Matt’s book goes into how California (i.e. Silicon Valley and Hollywood) and China have been both <em>collaborative </em>and <em>competitive </em>at the same time.</p><p>Listen in as Matt explains how the multifaceted powerhouse that is California influences the trajectory of China’s economic growth. He also dives deep into what he means by the two regions being collaborative and competitive at the same time.</p><p>Matt then describes Iowa’s unexpected importance to the U.S.-China relationship and why he, in fact, co-hosted and co-produced the <em>Heartland Mainland: The Iowa China Podcast</em>. He goes on to speak on the future of the Chinese tech ecosystem as written about in MacroPolo’s October 2020 report. Finally, Matt reflects on shifting perceptions of China through the years and how the country is able to stay so malleable all this time.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Even as California and China have become closer in recent years, that closeness also brings a lot of new frictions.”</p><p> </p><p>“In five years, I don’t foresee chip restrictions and export controls hobbling Chinese transition to this industrial tech juggernaut that it wants to become. But as we stretch it out further to 2025 to 2030 and beyond, I do think that restrictions on China’s ability to access leading-edge semiconductors are eventually going to serve as a bit of a cap on how far they can go with this foundational technology.”</p><p><br></p>
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The Year in Review | 2020's Greatest Hits
<p>This episode is a look back at all of our podcast guests and the topics we covered in 2020, putting together some of our favorite moments for you into one single episode of goodness. The guests featured in this special episode are William Bao Bean, episode 22 released on January 7th; Scott Silverman, episode 28 released on January 31st; Scott Laprise, episode 34 released on March 6th; Dr. Julie Klinger, episode 42 released on April 13th; Gen Kanai, episode 54 released on July 17th; Wei Liang, episode 55 released on July 28th; James McGregor, episode 57 released on August 17th; Anne Stephenson Yang, episodes 58 &amp; 59 released on August 25th and September 1st; Aynne Kokas, episode 61 released on Septmeber 16th; Kevin Xu, episodes 66 &amp; 67 released October 27th and November 3rd; and Matthew Brennan, episodes 72 &amp; 73 released December 8th and 15th.</p>
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Matthew Brennan Part 2 | The Middle Platform & Turning Cringe Into Crave
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      What is the “middle platform” and how does it benefit ByteDance?</p><p>●      Other innovations by ByteDance that other companies are trying to imitate</p><p>●      TikTok versus Snapchat, and why the former is thriving while the latter is dying</p><p>●      Up-and-coming tech companies to keep an eye on</p><p>●      Why Oracle attempted to partner with TikTok</p><p>●      The future of TikTok in the U.S. with a Biden administration in place</p><p>●      Why America is seen as a high-risk market in China</p><p>●      The ramifications of Jack Ma’s speech on the Ant IPO</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we continue our conversation with Matthew Brennan, a highly sought-after speaker on Chinese internet and tech innovation, with a particular focus on WeChat and ByteDance. He is also the author of <em>Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China's ByteDance </em>(2020).</p><p>Matthew is the Co-Founder of China Channel, which “provides digital marketing services for brands wishing to perform better on WeChat and China's digital ecosystem.” China Channel also organizes “China’s largest WeChat marketing conference series for international companies, China Channel delivers regular presentations, workshops, trainings and events globally about WeChat.”</p><p>The “middle platform”, first conceptualized by Jack Ma and Alibaba, is a third-party group that does the “heavy lifting” in terms of technology and resource management. ByteDance’s apps can all plug into this central service called the middle platform, allowing these resources to be shared and ensuring no overlap between different teams.</p><p>ByteDance has risen to prominence in the China tech space—and that of the world, by extension—through a myriad of innovations, from launching their unique internal tools as a product, selling their recommendation algorithm ala “recommendation as a service”, and their various avenues for growth hacking.</p><p>Listen in as Matthew goes on to discuss the importance of how psychology can inform the potential success (or failure) of a social platform, other tech companies in China set to explode soon as ByteDance did, make sense of Oracle’s decision to partner with TikTok, and what a Biden administration (as well as current, strained U.S.-China relations) would mean for the future of TikTok and ByteDance as a whole.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“It wasn’t always obvious that TikTok would be so successful because they almost ruined it in the early days.”</p><p> </p><p>“When it comes to apps such as TikTok or Snapchat, it’s really important to understand the psychology behind these applications. It says so much about them and where the opportunity is in terms of business.”</p><p> </p><p>“When you speak to entrepreneurs and VCs on the ground in China, nobody really wants to invest in America anymore. It’s too risky. They don’t want to launch apps there. They just see it as a high-risk market.”</p>
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Matthew Brennan pt. 1 | Attention Factory - TikTok & China's ByteDance
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      How Matthew built a fascination for WeChat and digital innovation in China</p><p>●      Writing objectively about big tech brands in a country known for heavy censorship</p><p>●      The huge potential of sharing short videos via these newest social media platforms</p><p>●      What is ByteDance, exactly?</p><p>●      How ByteDance compares to the other tech giants in China</p><p>●      What makes TikTok unique?</p><p>●      Localizing TikTok’s content in other markets</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Matthew Brennan, a highly sought-after speaker on the Chinese internet and tech innovation space, with a particular focus on WeChat and ByteDance. He is also the author of <em>Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China's ByteDance </em>(2020).</p><p>Matthew is the Co-Founder of China Channel, which “provides digital marketing services for brands wishing to perform better on WeChat and China's digital ecosystem.” China Channel also organizes “China’s largest WeChat marketing conference series for international companies, China Channel delivers regular presentations, workshops, training, and events globally about WeChat.”</p><p>Matthew says that his interest in digital innovation in China transcends geopolitics. Since writing his book, there has been a swell of controversy around TikTok as the U.S. and India worked to ban the popular social media app. Matthew, however, would rather focus on the bigger picture that is the trajectory this opens up for internet usage, globally. Short video is changing the way we use the internet, we are only in the early stages of this new trend.</p><p>Listen in as Matthew goes on to share how ByteDance and TikTok came to be and how they sparked massive innovation in the mobile landscape, as well as how ByteDance compares to China’s other tech giants today and what the future holds.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“I do believe that short video is a very important trend for internet usage, globally. What TikTok provides is a new way that people are using the internet, and it’s not going away.”</p><p> </p><p>“China is all about mobile. It’s an app economy. People don’t tend to use browsers that much. Browser usage is very low in China.”</p><p> </p><p>“ByteDance has the potential to be a viable option to the Facebook and Google duopoly around online advertising globally.”</p>
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Colin Bogar | The Future of China's Real Estate Sector
<p><strong>Topics Discussed and Key Points:</strong></p><p>●      Commercial and residential real estate trends in China from 2008 to 2011</p><p>●      How real estate investors tend to operate in the China market</p><p>●      Where the real estate industry is going in the next ten years</p><p>●      Why China’s economic future may mirror that of Japan’s</p><p>●      China in the new normal</p><p>●      Property Passbook’s mission</p><p>●      Running a global business based in Shanghai</p><p>●      How COVID-19 has changed real estate planning in China</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Episode Summary:</strong></p><p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Colin Bogar, CEO and Head of Product Development at Property Passbook. His 12-year journey in China also saw him as Chairman on the Board of Advisors for The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, an Associate Professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University, the Managing Director of MGI Pacific, and Head of Research at Colliers International.</p><p>Colin discusses his observations on both the commercial and residential real estate markets in China over his decade-long career. With regards to urbanization today, he touches on how bigger cities tend to have a much greater influx of new residents looking for opportunity as opposed to the country. Anecdotally, the first-tier cities of Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen have seen the most growth during Colin’s time. Second Tier cities and below are not expected to see growth anywhere near the same pace as populations and wages stagnate.</p><p>Listen in as Colin goes on to share how COVID-19 affected the real estate market both financially and around health and sanitation, projected reductions in investments toward office spaces in a post-COVID world, the aim of his startup Property Passbook, the advantages of doing business as an expat in the melting pot that is Shanghai, and whether or not megacities are soon going to be a thing of the past.</p><p> </p><p><strong>Key Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Real estate developers in China today are less concerned with <em>green </em>as much as they are with <em>health</em>.”</p><p> </p><p>“People in Western countries tend to want to be green and do the right things to fight global warming, but sometimes their solutions are not the most practical.”</p><p> </p><p>“By doing business in Shanghai, you have a pulse on the direction in which the world is going.”</p><p> </p><p>“COVID-19 and tensions with the U.S. aside, it’s hard not to be extremely optimistic about China’s economic future.”</p><p> </p><p>“Soon, travel to China is going to bounce back in a bigger way than most people would imagine.”</p>
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Simon Zhao | China's Housing Bubble vs. Protecting the RMB
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we are taking aim at trying to understand the housing bubble in China, by speaking with Professor Simon Zhao, Former Director at the International Centre for China Development Studies, University of Hong Kong. Simon has recently published an article on the housing bubble in China, so we thought he would be an excellent place to start our conversation.</p><p>Simon tells us that it has only been in the last 40 years that its citizens could actually purchase property and homes; before then it belonged to the government, and the government provided housing to the people. Therefore, land and property had no value. However, China was quite interested in the Hong Kong model, and soon adopted the method of allowing private citizens to purchase and own land. Soon the government was pouring resources into land development in order to create a marketplace where it could tax purchases and development and grow its GDP. As Simon mentions, the government “did not allow the market price to go down”, which has contributed to the problem it has today.</p><p>We ask Simon about the famous ghost towns, rather ghost cities, the massive developments that could house tens of thousands of people, seemingly built with the knowledge it was purely a surplus where no one needed to live. Simon tells us that the government would enable the banks to lend with protection against defaults so that demand stayed high and development would continue, allowing the country to artificially inflate GDP and collect taxes on 30% to 50% of the development and sale costs.</p><p>When we asked Simon if China has a housing bubble, he said not in Tier 1 cities, there are so many people still moving to these cities the demand is still high and the value is true. Where the issue lies is where there is no liquidity in the market. In smaller cities to the North and to the West, there is shrinking demand, and those that own property is unable to get out from under their mortgages. </p><p>Simon points to some major milestones to recognize as important dates in history that impacted the housing sector greatly. The first was entering the WTO in 2001, and the other was the Olympics in 2008. They coincided with tremendous growth in the manufacturing sector and China’s economic growth spurt overall. However the “financial tsunami” of 2009 drew $4 Trillion in aid from the government that was largely injected into the housing sector as well, which overcooked the economy in general, but the housing sector felt it the most. From that point to now the government has been doing everything it can to try and cool the housing sector without causing a drastic deflation in the RMB.</p>
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Jacob Cooke | Returning To A New China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jacob Cooke, co-founder of WPIC Marketing and Technologies, and his experiences since returning to China recently.</p><p>Jacob notes the huge amount of digitization efforts since his last time in China. eCommerce is booming. What was once a convenience has now become a necessity. Digitization now encompasses all parts of society and users now include people of all ages, not just the youth.</p><p>Masks have always been normal in China. Today, 90% of people continue to wear them despite no reported COVID-19 cases since Jacob’s return. However, contact tracing has become widespread and apps are incredibly efficient, which is especially necessary for a country that cannot realistically maintain social distancing measures due to its population size.</p><p>Unlike in the West, big companies in China often were not given bailouts. In fact, many were allowed to fail. Instead, the government had begun to invest in smaller businesses. This is how unemployment is being addressed. The country is seeing shifts around the prominence of certain industries. Industries that were dependent upon export markets have suffered, but those who have adapted to the current needs of society have seen a good amount of growth. Namely, the technology and biomedical sectors are thriving. Businesses that cater to the needs of the home, including home exercise solutions, are also doing well this year.</p><p>There may be a collapse in the commercial real estate market as many organizations have learned that a work-from-home setup yields virtually the same amount of productivity as an office-based one.</p><p>Companies who do business in both the U.S. and China should not worry about any drastic shifts regarding trade between the two countries. Even in spite of the pandemic, trade has been continuing at practically the same pace as before, and higher taxes should not deter imports into an “already-high-tax environment”.</p><p>Listen in as Jacob goes to share WPIC’s own investments in China, and what he sees in the future of the Ant Financial IPO, cryptocurrency, the hemp industry, and battery technology in China.</p>
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Bruno Schiavi | Taking Hemp & CBD to China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with fashion designer and entrepreneur Bruno Schiavi. With a background in the retail industry spanning 25 years, he has launched many brands internationally with some of the biggest companies and names in the world. His latest brand is Uncle Bud’s Hemp and CBD, which focuses on topicals that cover everything from pain relief to anti-aging to bath and body. Uncle Bud’s products are exclusively manufactured in the U.S. and are sold in over 15,000 stories locally. As of today, Uncle Bud’s is available in Australia and is about to launch in China in partnership with Tmall and Alibaba.</p><p>Bruno decided to expand into China knowing that the Chinese love exploring new brands and are always curious when it comes to new ingredients. Hemp and CBD are, in fact, still novelty ingredients in the Chinese market and the industry itself is seen as the fastest-growing category in the world today (projected to be at $25 billion globally by the end of 2025). For these reasons and more, Bruno believes that the various challenges in doing business in China are worth overcoming.</p><p>Listen in as Bruno shares the key differences between Chinese consumers and their American and European counterparts, how to find the right brand ambassadors for your product, and tips for building a local team in China when you are based overseas.</p>
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Kevin Xu Part 2 | Interconnecting the Politics of China and the USA
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we continue our conversation with Kevin Xu, founder and author at Interconnected, “a publication that analyzes businesses and trends from the lens of builders (entrepreneurs &amp; engineers), operators (business managers), investors (capitalists), regulators (politicians and government officials), and how they are all connected.” He is also a contributor for and the co-creator of COSS Media, a knowledge media platform aimed at helping Commercial Open Source Software (COSS) founders build lasting companies. Finally, Kevin is an investor and EIR at the venture capital firm OSS Capital, L.P.</p><p>Unlike the U.S., the Chinese government can make decisions “that could impact your pocketbook tomorrow”. Entrepreneurs in China are, as a result, much more politically astute, as the only way to get ahead in business is to align your vision for your business with the government’s vision for the country for the next several years. Americans, on the other hand, have the freedom to influence outcomes in ways the Chinese cannot; but at the same time, this has paved the way for more ignorance regarding Americans’ knowledge about their own government, simply because they have less to worry about concerning the government's power to control their lives. This difference in worldviews and level of political knowledge between the citizens of these two countries serves as the theme underlying the rest of the topics which Kevin covers.</p><p>Listen in as Kevin explains his perspective on the countless developments currently taking place between the U.S. and China, from each country’s competitive edge in business to the long-term consequences of decoupling, and whether more Chinese companies will delist from the U.S. stock exchange. He then ties these issues together, explaining just how all of these unfolding events between these two superpowers are, in fact, <em>interconnected</em>.</p>
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Kevin Xu | Open Source in China & Working at the White House
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Kevin Xu, Founder, and Author of Interconnected.blog, a publication that analyzes businesses and trends from the lens of builders, operators, investors, and regulators, and how they are all interconnected globally. Kevin received his Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brown University before studying both Law and Computer Science at Stanford. He then spent a couple of years at the White House in the Obama administration before becoming an entrepreneur in e-commerce and then design strategy. He then became very interested in open source projects, something he invests his money in to this day. His blog is bilingual in both English and Chinese, and he also podcasts.</p><p>When asked about China’s stance on open-source technology, Kevin says that due to sanctions on technologies from the US, by the US, there has been an official attitude shift towards embracing open-source technology, saying they now know there is always some sort of open-source alternative available instead of relying on the proprietary solution that one would normally buy or license. Kevin goes on to say that he believes open-source is “eating a lot of different parts of the entire technology stack.”</p><p>Given Kevin’s time at the White House, the conversation inevitably took a turn to politics, and wrapping up part 1 we delved into a discussion around whether Facebook and Twitter should be moderating political ads, which Kevin says no but maybe not for the reason you might think, then discussing why it seemed earlier in the conversation he was perhaps surprised to find so many Chinese that come from a Communist country background seemingly eager to be involved in politics in the US. </p>
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Tom Parker | Taking Australian Football to China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Tom Parker, Head of China with the Australian Football League (AFL) and Vice President for the Australia China Business Council. Tom shares his journey in the Chinese business world, beginning in 2007 with the founding of Red Tape Consulting, “a China Advisory business that helped stage the first AFL exhibition match as part of the Shanghai World Expo.” Since 2018, Tom continues to serve a prominent role in the AFL. As Head of China, Tom “drive[s] commercial outcomes from the ongoing engagement and games being played in Shanghai.”</p><p>Before COVID-19, Tom’s role as Head of China at the AFL was to serve as the bridge between Australian and Chinese brands. As the pandemic reared its head just before the beginning of 2020, Tom had been looking to boost the organization’s social media presence and build on its branding. With both countries currently occupied with their respective challenges heading into the new normal, Tom is optimistic, but at the same time sees the future of the AFL as uncertain. At this point in time, the most they can do is to “ride the ship” onwards and continuously adapt to the situation at hand.</p><p>Tom describes Australian sports as being a “bottom-up, grassroots”-led part of the culture, while Chinese sports is a “top-down” affair dictated by the state. Traditionally, the Chinese have generally focused on professional sports that are less team-oriented such as diving or table tennis. In recent years where globalization has become more prevalent than ever, ball sports, and the culture of fandom for teams and players have sprung up among the Chinese.</p>
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Bertrand Schmitt | App Annie & The Rise of Mobile in China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Bertrand Schmitt, tech entrepreneur, Co-Founder, and Chairman of App Annie, and co-host of the <em>Tech DECIPHERED</em> podcast alongside Strive Capital’s Nuno Goncalves Pedro.</p><p>Bertrand has been involved in the mobile industry in China since 1999, through what he refers to as its period of “growing pains”. When the iPhone and the App Store came out in 2007 and 2008, respectively, Bertrand quickly saw that they solved, in one go, three big issues in China’s mobile world: discovery, distribution, and monetization. Bertrand was inspired to bring something to market that could contribute to the industry. This led to the creation of App Annie, which aimed to provide tools to business developers to better understand developments in the mobile space via data and analytics.</p><p>Mobile-only recently boomed as an industry in the Chinese market following the release of the iPhone (considered a luxury item when it first came out). Up until that point, the Chinese communicated through text, and tech giant Tencent was known for its online gaming services. The past decade has seen much innovation and the rise of new giants like Pinduoduo and ByteDance that were built on a mobile-first foundation.</p><p>Bertrand shares his experience working as a French entrepreneur in China, how the VC “culture” in China has evolved and how it differs from that of America or Europe, China’s unique mobile-related innovations, and what to expect from Bertrand’s podcast, <em>Tech DECIPHERED</em>. </p>
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Jesse Chester | China's Sweet Tooth
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jesse Chester, Category Leadership Director at Mars who leads the category leadership organization in Guangdong, China, and in Arkansas, USA. Jesse’s role was to create strategic plans around category growth by working with retailers to help grow the marketplace as a whole. He also contributed to the reinvention of Mars’ innovation strategy.</p><p>The snack industry in China “runs the full gamut” compared to that of North America. According to Jesse, the Chinese see food such as corn or bread rolls in the same category that they do chocolate bars or gum. Also, the health angle towards confectioneries and sweets in China is not as prevalent as it is in North America simply because consumption is much lower among the Chinese.</p><p>It is clear that what works for the sweets industry in the west does not work the same in the east. Marketing is much more reliant on Key Opinion Leaders and capitalizing on events to sell these sorts of products. Also to be taken into account are cultural differences in the presentation and experience of sweets. For the Chinese, it is important to hone in on popular flavors unique to the country, but attention should also be put on the texture and packaging of the sweets.</p><p>Jesse relates his experience working in China as a foreigner and having to adapt not only to the business environment but the cultural environment as well. His greatest strengths were his determination to focus on key tasks, but he also came to appreciate the power of taking initiative rather than leaving his Chinese business partners to take the lead every step of the way. He also was able to gain trust in an environment known to be rather impersonal and emotion-free by making it a point to build relationships with his partners, many times over baijiu.</p>
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Kimberly Kirkendall | How To Evaluate a Business Opportunity in China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Kimberly Kirkendall, founder and President at International Resource Development, on adjusting to the business environment in China as a Westerner.</p><p>Kimberly discusses the foundational cultural differences in doing business with the Chinese as opposed to Westerners. She had an advantage getting her start in China when she was in her early 20s, as she was able to quickly adapt to the implicit and analogous manner of speech that is characteristic of the locals. She and Todd both agree that a foreign professional in their 30s would have a much more difficult time making this adjustment as they would already be hardwired to interact with others in a particular way according to their own cultural norms.</p><p>In the early 2000s, Kimberly was told that the China she had experienced in the late 1980s had completely changed and that the culture she had so familiarized herself with no longer existed. Her reply was that the so-called new, modern, Capitalist China was just an observation “at the veneer level”. Beneath this, China was still fundamentally the same as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, with the Communist Party apparatus completely intact. However, in the last five years, some of the veneer had begun to crack and is being replaced by a new one, namely, a “more muscular Communist Party engagement in the world and in business.” To Kimberly, this is simply proof that China’s attitude and worldview as a country never really changed.</p><p>“China and many high-context language countries are relationship-driven,” says Kimberly. The first thing to understand in any negotiation is that the Chinese are looking to you as a <em>partner</em>, even if you do not yet see it that way yourself. That is, to the Chinese, you are perceived as someone who is either selling or buying, and this perception will remain throughout the negotiation. It is a relationship that is rooted in human nature, taking the emotionality and relative unpredictability of human beings seriously. They do not simply look at a company as a soulless, paint-by-numbers entity.</p>
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Aynne Kokas | How China is Changing the Way Hollywood Makes Movies
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Aynne Kokas, Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, where she teaches students about U.S.-China media and technology relations. She is also a Senior Faculty Fellow at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia where she does work related to U.S.-China policy, particularly around how corporations and the governments of the U.S. and China interact in the space of media and tech.</p><p>Aynne is the author of the award-winning book <em>Hollywood Made in China</em>. The big studios in China include the China Film Group, the Shanghai Film Group, Alibaba Pictures, and Tencent Pictures. These studios are “getting into the cinema game” in much the same way that tech companies in the U.S. are. That is, by producing a large amount of high-budget content, these cash-rich companies are able to drive traffic to their platforms.</p><p>Netflix’s China strategy is to enter the market in any way it can. While it has been difficult for them to enter as a <em>platform</em>, they have been able to distribute <em>content </em>more successfully. These shows are streamed on Chinese platforms such as Iqiyi. By improving the content on these platforms, they can pull in more subscribers.</p><p>Analysis has shown “clear colorism” in both Chinese and Western films released in China. Aynne suggests that this might be due to “a lack of great roles for people of color” in Hollywood. That being said, a lot of Indian films have done well in China. So have many Korean and Japanese productions. A lot of the gatekeeping decisions regarding the distribution of foreign media have very much to do with the geopolitical relationships that China has with these different countries.</p>
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Hendrik Laubscher | Why China is Leading the World in eCommerce Logistics & Warehousing
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Hendrick Laubscher on current and future developments around shipping, warehousing, and logistics networks in China.</p><p>At first glance, distribution in China may appear more or less similar to the networks and processes of other countries, particularly in the West. However, Hendrick explains that China, by virtue of its 1.3 billion-strong population and well-known penchant for speed, operates at a scale unrivaled by other markets. He points to eCommerce giants JD and Tmall as prime examples of companies that embody this level of speed and scale.</p><p>Another reality that sets China’s economy apart from much of the West is the same level of respect that people give to every worker, regardless of whether they are a street cleaner, delivery truck driver, or C-suite executive. This is because the country is so reliant on eCommerce that they understand that every person who contributes to the process is someone to be equally valued. It is a unique culture that helped China to become a $1.3 trillion market. “There’s nothing that you can’t buy on the internet in China,” says Hendrick. “You can find repossessed ships, airplanes, flats, and cars. Think about that and compare that to what we see in the West.”</p><p>China’s speed is unmatched due to the speed of innovation and the demand of Chinese consumers for lightning-fast speeds to be the norm. Also, the Chinese “have almost no influence from outside logistics companies”, with JD, Alibaba and the like having built themselves from the ground-up and, therefore, have only their own data to rely on and learn from.</p><p>In the near future, Hendrick sees more warehouses using 5G technology so that the data transferences between various parts of the business will be made quicker. This means movement between 15% to 25% quicker among these warehouses compared to warehouses relying solely on human beings to manage them. There will also be more usage of blockchain as consumers demand more security when making purchases. Other investments will be made to bolster distribution, from autonomous vehicles, planes, logistics partners, and international facilities.</p>
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Anne Stevenson-Yang Part 2 | Unemployment Rates, China's Housing Bubble, & the RMB Exchange Rate Explained
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Anne Stevenson-Yang, Co-Founder and Research Director of J Capital Research.</p><p>Asked about how China deals with its unemployment rates, Anne says that those who manage these developments “come out of the security systems” in the public sector. Unemployment is a “security function” as opposed to an “economic function”. The focus is not on random people who are unemployed, but rather those who were previously employed who are legal residents of a certain area. The higher these numbers, the higher the risk to social stability.</p><p>“China excels at campaign-driven activities that have very simple and clear targets,” says Anne. This focus has helped the country drive (and keep) down the infection rate of COVID-19. However, this has had a long-term negative impact on the economy, with around 300 million migrant workers left without a job or unable to return to work. It is also uncertain how China’s housing situation will play out, as the value of property continues to rise without the presence of ready and willing buyers.</p><p>Alipay and WePay have left much of the brick and mortar banking system behind, thanks to the one-stop-shop nature of a lot of digital payment and banking platforms, not to mention the convenience of using this technology.</p><p>Xi Jinping’s influence depended entirely on the cooperation of all parties on both the local and international levels. The pandemic has obviously caused a lot of damage and uncertainty, leading to the loss of much of the president’s far-reaching power. Says Anne: “It was always predictable that, as China was no longer able to deliver on rapid growth through massive investment, that it would politically close up and become more repressive.”</p>
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Anne Stevenson-Yang | China's Position as an Economic Powerhouse, The US Election, & Whether Alibaba is a Good Investment Target
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Anne Stevenson-Yang, Co-Founder and Research Director of J Capital Research.</p><p>China’s manufacturing industry developed in three stages: cheap labor, superseded by cheap IP, superseded by cheap capital. What has brought foreign businesses to China is not so much the low-cost of labor as the low-cost of capital. Anne says that the average American citizen has not been hurt by the competition from cheap labor, “but the way in which the U.S. political system has recycled the profits from China back into the pockets of the top 1% of the population” rather than investing in American infrastructure, education, equipment, etc.</p><p>Anne does not believe that there will be a decoupling of manufacturing. Rather, there will be a joining and a strengthening of a lot of international institutions that will allow the U.S. to force China into negotiations instead of fanning the flames of hostility as per usual. However, there is a lot of doubt that China will be capable of participating in these institutions because their system is fundamentally different from those of other big economic players. For instance, Anne considers the Belt and Road Initiative to be another manifestation of China’s desire to plant its roots around the world while staying fundamentally unchanged in its development model.</p><p>China’s coupling with the international world starting in 1979 was a deliberate strategy done to capture as many resources as possible, which included technological expertise, intellectual property, and capital. This was carried out in order to make China “as presentable and as like America as possible, enough that those benefits would start to flow into China.” Today, that process has more or less reached its peak, resulting in marginal returns.</p><p>Says Anne, “I think that China is rapidly fading from the international scene as an economic player of great importance, and I think that’s going to continue to happen. It is not because of U.S. decoupling. It is because that is what China has chosen through its developmental model. [...] The development model is based on massive and growing capital investment, and that type of development model reaches a shelf life, or growth limit before it starts to unravel.”</p>
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James McGregor | The Future of TikTok & WeChat, What We Always Get Wrong About China, & Made In China 2025
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with James McGregor, author, journalist, and Chairman of APCO Worldwide, Greater China.</p><p>WeChat is the most popular social media platform in China and has over 19 million users in the US, many of whom are Chinese-Americans who use the app to stay in touch with families back in China. A number of American companies based in China do transactions through the platform as well. To James, these are some of the reasons why the current administration’s decision to ban WeChat is short-sighted. However, he also acknowledges that the Chinese government uses WeChat for propagandistic purposes. “The diaspora,” James says, “get their news on WeChat, and it is all government-sanctioned. That is also fairly insidious.”</p><p>Regarding TikTok, James does not see how a video-sharing app whose users are primarily teenagers and those in their early 20s can be a potential national security threat. However, he is aware that, because the app was developed in China, there is a level of distrust regarding data privacy. This has led to the Trump administration forcing a sale of TikTok’s US operations which, according to James, sets a troubling precedent. “Are we making America great again with a great firewall? Are we becoming China in the way we do things in order to fight off China?”</p><p>In the early days, Western countries, especially America, had a tendency to be overconfident when establishing a business in other countries. This was a “suicidal” attitude when it came to entering the Chinese market. In more recent times, America has “adapted and learned” and is now “doing pretty well” in China. However, when the WTO opened in the mid-2000s, China began to worry about the amount of traction that foreign companies were getting in their country, prompting them to push back by reforming Chinese companies and closing foreign ones. The relationship between the two superpowers has remained tense ever since.</p><p>A stark difference between US and Chinese companies is that the former tends to focus on risk while the latter focuses on the opportunity. “We have been rich for too long,” says James. “And because of that, we have lost a lot of our flexibility and entrepreneurial drive.” He says, however, that while Communist policies suppress innovation in China, globalization and the speed at which the business moves in the country make it a formidable economic force on the world stage. “You can’t block China, so compete with them.”</p>
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XinYi Lim | Pinduoduo's Change in Leadership, Differentiating and Understanding C2M, and Why Live Streaming is Everything Right Now
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Xin Yi Lim, Senior Director of Corporate Development at Pinduoduo and former Technology Analyst for GIC in Singapore and New York.</p><p>Xin Yi discusses some of PD’s latest developments, including founder Colin Huang Zheng’s recent move into an executive chairman role and news on the company’s agritech initiatives, which include its Smart Agriculture Competition to encourage innovation in both AI and traditional strawberry planting methods. She then goes into the role of live streaming in PDD’s marketing efforts and defines the relationship that the company has with its various types of vendors and other strategic partners.</p><p>“Live streaming is probably the number one industry buzzword this year as well as last year,” says Xin Yi. COVID-19, of course, had a big impact on the popularity (and necessity) of live streaming. For Pinduoduo, the key was to find the <em>value </em>in a live streaming product as opposed to releasing one for the sake of having a product. In particular, one of the goals in using live streaming is to drive conversion which, at its root, is a matter of building <em>trust</em>. According to Xin Yi, “Live streaming should be part of the shopping experience and not a distraction from it.”</p><p>An MCN is a third-party service provider that has a collection of content providers, akin to such platforms as YouTube. These are intermediaries that brands turn to if they need ready-made solutions for content since every content creator has their own following or fanbase.</p><p>C2M shortens the distance between consumers and manufacturers. “In essence,” says Xin Yi, “it is a differentiated way of thinking about how products are designed, made, and sold to consumers.” Traditionally, manufacturers do not have a direct connection to consumers and have inefficient systems for getting feedback on their products. Usually, focus groups are used when creating new products, and this process oftentimes causes quite a bit of delay. The concept of C2M takes advantage of the fact that much of the retail world has gone digital in the form of eCommerce, allowing for that direct interaction between consumers and manufacturers.</p><p>“Longer-term, the momentum behind eCommerce penetration is still very strong. In terms of PDD’s strategy, it has always been squarely focused on, ‘What do our users need and how can we provide the right products that they need for each category? How can we provide value as well as an interactive shopping experience to our 600+ million users?’”</p>
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Wei Liang | Digging Into US/China Foreign Policy, Discussing The Belt & Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Wei Liang, Professor of International Policy Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She discusses the current state of the Belt and Road Initiative in-depth, as well as China’s current reputation on the world stage amid a variety of crises, not least of which are COVID-19 and the country’s strained relationship with Hong Kong.</p><p>The Belt and Road Initiative was first announced in 2013 by President Xi Jinping with the ambitious (and ever-evolving) plan to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The <em>belt </em>begins in the northwest part of China and connects to Central Asia through to Europe. The <em>road </em>refers to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road which connects China to Southeast Asia, the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, all the way through to the Middle East and Africa.</p><p>China’s goal is to connect with regions that it never had much economic influence in previously, while at the same time trying to bypass the influence of the United States by going through the “backyard” of Russia and India. China is intentionally keeping the BRI a “vague concept” striving to make it “open and inclusive”. One thing that has remained constant since its inception is that the United States has not been included thus far and does not seem likely to participate in any capacity any time soon.</p><p>China’s relations with other powerful countries has been unsteady for a variety of reasons. China’s exponential rise as a global exporter in Asia is one factor. The language and cultural barriers are others. Recently, certain issues have influenced China’s image for the worse, two of the biggest being the impact of COVID-19 and the country’s turbulent relationship with Hong Kong.</p><p>China’s focus is on infrastructure investments, which is why it put a tremendous amount of resources into the BRI. Its current relationship to the US, particularly after the trade war and the COVID-19 outbreak, is a confirmation to many scholars who have been following the unique relationship between the two countries: China has always sought to remain prepared with alternative markets to do business in.</p><p>Regardless of which party wins the US presidential election in November, China will continue to have to deal with the profound mistrust between the two countries. Economic issues are one thing. Geopolitical and security considerations are another, and the two nations have continually stoked the embers of conflict throughout the past few years.</p>
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Gen Kanai | Tech in Japan: How Google Won, eBay Lost, and Why Twitter Couldn't Lose, & Lessons Learned Growing Mozilla in Asia
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Gen Kanai, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Animoca Brands and Mentor at Chinaccelerator.</p><p>Regarding the challenges of entering the Japanese market, Gen says that Japanese customers generally do not pirate software and content. Japan “can be a very profitable market if you can crack the market.” At the same time, it is a challenging market, with many non-Japanese companies having failed in Japan. eBay is a prime example of a failure, while Google, Twitter, and Snapchat fared better due to a number of factors that Gen enumerates.</p><p>Sales cycles and establishing stakeholder trust are generally much longer processes in Japan, but the payoff is the incredible loyalty that Japanese consumers have for successful companies in the country. On the other hand, during his five years working in China, Gen has found that it is particularly difficult for foreign entities to enter the consumer segment “for a whole host of reasons”.</p><p>Asked about his experience working with Mozilla and expanding to other markets, Gen says that the best part about his involvement was interacting with users. Community is incredibly important for Mozilla since it is a non-profit organization with a fraction of the budgets of Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other companies that provide competing browsers. Mozilla enjoys a user base made up of Firefox fans who not only love the product, but also the company’s non-profit mission and the fact that Mozilla does not make money off of its users directly.</p><p>On the other hand, the most challenging part of Gen’s job was dealing with countries that were completely closed to Firefox such as South Korea, thanks to technical decisions made by the Korean government around internet banking, stock trading, and any other kinds of secure transactions. During Gen’s time, online technologies in Korea only worked with Internet Explorer.</p><p>Mozilla’s open-source, non-profit business model can still be emulated today, with some caveats. Mozilla rose “out of the ashes of Netscape” when the latter company failed. Sergey Brin struck a deal to feature Google as the default search engine with a fraction of the ads from its search results being paid to Mozilla. Things changed when Google opted for more ownership with the creation of Chrome, but Firefox remains a lucrative product that is able to make “north of $100 million a year” for as long as it can navigate the ever-evolving trends and standards established by the top internet companies of the day.</p>
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Benjamin Qiu | China's First RMB Accelerator Fund, The Development of China's Legal Landscape, & Exit Options For Startups in China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Benjamin Qiu, Partner at Loeb &amp; Loeb LLP. Benjamin is an “attorney focused on the capital market, venture financing, corporate governance, IP asset development, and technology protection &amp; licensing.” He discusses the legal side of startup financing in China, of which he first developed expertise during his time at Innovation Works (China’s answer to Y Combinator), where he served as both fund director and a key member of its legal team.</p><p>Benjamin had the opportunity to join Innovation Works in 2009, an interesting time in the startup world. With his background in international property law, this was his first time stepping into the venture capital space. 2009-2010 saw quite a bit of liquidity due to a lot of government stimulus around the world at the time. The first iPhone came out in 2007 and mobile was on the rise exponentially. Early-stage funding was focused on mobile startups.</p><p>While Y Combinator used a more “cookie-cutter” deal structure, Innovation Works created the groundwork for new technologies before scouting the market for visionary entrepreneurs to lead innovation and form a startup based on the fresh technology.</p><p>The legal framework in China, as drawn up by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), essentially borrows from that of Silicon Valley. In the past, it heavily favored the investor, but with the high number of options startup entrepreneurs have today, the law has approached a “middle ground” structure that protects both investors and entrepreneurs.</p><p>Asked about similarities between the discovery process in China versus that of Silicon Valley, Benjamin says that “80%-90%” of startup investors look for the same things in a founder, the most important being a firm grasp of industry knowledge. The biggest difference is that local entrepreneurs are the preferred choice, as opposed to Silicon Valley whose many resident founders hail from different cultural backgrounds.</p><p>A foreign tech startup looking to get funding in China would “find it useful to have outside investors who, on top of the money, also provide local knowledge and guidance.” They can also potentially help the founder in finding the best staff and leadership for the company, and even facilitate deals. Benjamin notes that startups that deal with content such as Google and Facebook will have a significantly tougher time getting off the ground in China compared to an Uber or an Airbnb.</p><p>M&amp;A and IPO opportunities in China have seen a lot of convergence with Silicon Valley’s own realities. Until several years ago, a lot of the large tech companies (i.e. Alibaba, Tencent, etc.) were not known to willingly acquire younger startups. But, as is characteristic of the Chinese market, things drastically changed. In more recent years, many acquisitions took place. Also, in spite of current tensions between the U.S. and China, the U.S. is still the number one place that publicly lists rising Chinese companies.</p>
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Shanshan Tang | Alibaba as a "Digital Economy", Tmall vs. Tmall Global, and Alibaba's Leveraging of AI
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Shanshan Tang, Global Business Lead for Canada at Alibaba. Alibaba’s Vancouver office was opened in 2018 with two main goals: to help Canadian brands (especially smaller ones) sell to China using their eCommerce platform, and to promote cross-border tourism and online and in-store enablement of Alipay.</p><p>Alibaba was founded as an eCommerce company 20 years ago. Today, it has evolved well beyond that. According to Shanshan, today the platform provides “a marketplace, logistics, payment services, marketing, call computing, big data, lifestyle, entertainment, and health.”</p><p>With the many unique challenges presented by COVID-19 in 2020, some interesting trends have emerged on Tmall’s platform. For one, online tools such as live streaming have become much more popular. In line with this, there has been a closer integration of Tmall’s online and offline stores. Shanshan shares that amid the complete shutdown in China during the pandemic, department store associates took advantage of their tools by live streaming promotional videos right “from their counters”.</p><p>The future of Alibaba’s eCommerce ecosystem sees the ever-closer integration of online and offline resources. There will also be an increase in the implementation of AI to Alibaba’s online tools to help merchants better customize the buying experience for individual consumers. Tmall has also put a focus on improving its brand loyalty forums in order to foster a greater sense of community among its customers.</p><p>As the first step for companies looking to capitalize on Alibaba’s many sales and marketing channels, Shanshan recommends that they enter the platform with their hero products initially, using content marketing via social media to promote their brand and value proposition.</p>
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Barbara Finamore | Energy, Pollution, & Why China's Electric Vehicle Industry Might Just Save Our Planet
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Barbara Finamore, Senior Strategic Director for Asia at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the author of <em>Will China Save the Planet </em>(2018). She started her career with the NRDC as an environmental litigator, a position she left after getting married to a U.S. diplomat in the 1980s. Her husband took her to China in 1990, when the country was considering its earliest initiatives for sustainable development.</p><p>Barbara was there to witness first-hand the country’s signing of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as the drafting of the world’s first sustainable development blueprint for the 21st century, known as Agenda 21. Since the mid-1990s, Barbara has been heading the NRDC’s energy program in China.</p><p>Says Barbara: “I got hooked on the challenges that China faced and getting to know the people who were working to address those challenges, many of whom became leaders in China’s energy and climate policy.”</p><p>China’s environmental problems took off alongside its rapid economic growth in 2001 when the country joined the WTO. Its performance during that decade would earn China the moniker of being the world’s “economic miracle”.</p><p>China’s most valuable commodity during this period? <em>Coal</em>: the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel and the leading source of CO2 emissions in the world, as well as the source of China’s devastating air pollution. Coal was the cause of 2013’s “airpocalypse”, during which time the Chinese citizens were breathing in an equivalent of one-and-a-half cigarettes per hour every day. In 2018, China launched its Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan which intends to cut down coal use.</p><p>COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on China’s energy and environmental sectors. Chinese citizens have become less willing to take public transit due to crowding. There is a greater interest in private vehicles (which will have negative effects on climate change in the long run). The government has increased its focus on electric vehicles as essential to its long-term industrial transformation—a major element in its “new infrastructure” initiative (other elements include 5G and artificial intelligence).</p><p>In the short-term, the Chinese government is taking steps to ease its environmental controls on gasoline-powered engines since the automotive industry as a whole is a pillar industry in China, being responsible for some 10% of jobs and nearly 10% of all retail sales.</p>
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XinYi Lim, Senior Director of Corporate Development @ Pinduoduo | Interactive eCommerce, Observable Trends in Consumer Behaviour, & Pinduoduo's Long Term Growth Strategy
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Xin Yi Lim, Senior Director of Corporate Development at Pinduoduo and former Technology Analyst for GIC in Singapore and New York.</p><p>Xin Yi discusses interactive eCommerce, a relatively new term that aims to reproduce the experience of offline shopping by “trying to understand human needs through the community that surrounds each and every one of us.” Pinduoduo has created a team purchase model on a mobile-first, mobile-only platform where, if you buy something with a friend or anybody else in your social network, you enjoy lower prices.</p><p>According to Xin Yi, traditional eCommerce is “a targeted, solitary shopping behavior that is also ultimately efficiency-driven.” When we shop offline (i.e. at a mall), we typically have conversations with our companions when considering a purchase. This type of interaction and feedback is essentially absent when we shop online on a conventional eCommerce platform—no algorithm can match this element of human touch.</p><p>Pinduoduo differentiates itself from other eCommerce platforms with their fundamental understanding that “people’s needs can be very dynamic, and they can be influenced by those around them.” The company’s goal is to create true value for money, both for consumers and merchants, by creating a platform that mimics the offline experience and quite literally takes the term “sharing economy” to a new level.</p><p>Using data gathered from Pinduoduo’s interactive eCommerce platform, certain trends emerged. There is now a tendency towards “rational consumption”, which means that consumers are ultimately looking for value-for-money goods. Xin Yi discusses the trend known as C2M or Consumer to Manufacturer. China, known for decades as having an export-driven economy, is now beginning to focus on manufacturing products that appeal to an increasingly savvy domestic market. Pinduoduo allows its brands to collect anonymous consumer feedback, and from this create better, more marketable products that expand existing markets, and even create new markets.</p><p>COVID-19 has caused the sale of agricultural goods to skyrocket. These goods have always been available through Chinese eCommerce platforms, but they were “rediscovered” through necessity, by consumers. To further encourage and comfort online shoppers of agricultural goods, Pinduoduo began to conduct livestreams with farmers and other stakeholders demonstrating the quality of their products. Other newly popular verticals include fitness and culinary brands.</p>
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TR Harrington | Exiting in China as a Foreigner, Social Media for Customer Service, & Investing in SE Asia
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we speak with TR Harrington, Co-Program Director at Mobile Only Accelerator and Program Director at SOSV. He is also a Startup Mentor at Antler, Mucker Capital, and Chinaccelerator.</p><p>TR discusses the mindset and strategies he used to run a Shanghai-based marketing agency in China, and gracefully enact an exit strategy after over a decade of serving as CEO. He says that the key to his success as a foreigner was his ability to adapt to the culture and expectations of the local market.</p><p>By extension, TR encouraged foreign brands, who approached him for his services, to adopt that same attitude if they expected to maximize their investment in China. In addition to being willing to do their marketing the way the Chinese do, they should also be prepared to move at the speed that the Chinese are known for. Finally, foreign brands should not underestimate the power of utilizing social media to reach customers and clients—such as tapping into WeChat’s customer service capabilities.</p><p>TR believes that continuous process improvement is a big factor in helping foreign brands stand out in the vast and turbulent sea that is the Chinese market. The key is to <em>go big or go home</em>: TR says that a relatively small company that only makes a 3x improvement will have almost zero impact on their revenue and bottom line. He also says that it is possible to go “too far” or “too deep” with metrics that do not count. Instead, brands should make it a point to prioritize the “500-foot view” metrics.</p><p>Asked about which behavioral traits startup founders must have, TR says that it is not enough to follow through with the advice given by investors and mentors. It is equally as important for them to ask <em>why </em>they are being given that advice in order to learn how to make consistently sound decisions in the long-term.</p>
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James Lalonde | Innovation in Japan vs China, The Future of Work in China, & The One Belt One Road Perspective
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with author, speaker, university professor, and serial entrepreneur James Lalonde. He shares decades of experiences working in Asia, comparing and contrasting the social, cultural, and political characteristics of Japan, China, and North America to illustrate how these similarities and differences impact each country’s influence on the world stage.</p><p>James believes that building a business in China as a foreigner does not present any more challenges than building a business anywhere else does. Having worked in multiple countries, James does not see any particularly unique barriers for outsiders looking to start a business in China. “It’s really about how you approach getting your idea to market, and those things are really not specific to any culture. Being a successful entrepreneur is not necessarily a cultural thing.”</p><p>Different startup ecosystems exist in different regions of China. According to James, “Beijing is not really good at marketing itself” to foreign investors and entrepreneurs by virtue of having more than enough internal demand. Regardless, if your company specializes in software, IT, or AI, it is best to have a base in Beijing. If you are a manufacturer, Shenzhen is the place to be. Places like Shanghai and the surrounding areas deal best with consumer brands, which include lifestyle and fashion products. Other provinces may specialize in data centers or medical tourism. It all depends on what industry the government wishes to promote in the particular locale.</p><p>James asserts that the higher education system does not prepare students for the future of work. Advanced degrees are not often earned through practical experience, which means that the primary endeavor young people are preparing for while taking these courses is, in fact, the rat race. “You do not get credit for what you know, in a lot of organizations,” James reminds us. For his own companies, he prefers to hire individuals with a thirst for knowledge and an aptitude for creativity, rather than those who are “book smart” in business.</p><p>Asked his opinion on the Belt and Road Initiative, James questions the long-term ramifications of connecting several dozen countries with this particular infrastructure network. For instance, once the “bridge” is built, China has minimal, if any, control over how individual countries will make use of it. Will these countries truly use the network to improve trade relations with China, or take advantage of this resource and leave China in the dust?</p>
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Justin Mallen | Handling Data Servers for the Largest Shopping Day in the World, How 5G Will Change the Internet, and Huawei's Future
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Justin Mallen, Founder, and CEO of Silk Road Telecommunication. He shares what it is like being one of the few successful foreign entrepreneurs in China, having entered the market during a time when it was far from the economic powerhouse that it is today.</p><p>Justin says, “China’s telecom infrastructure is owned and operated by three incredibly large, state-owned enterprises: China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile. Back then, they had the one key resource which you needed: <em>networking</em>; and they did not want people in their space.”</p><p>Justin defines success, at least in the early days, simply as “being able to create a business that had staying power”. SRT is a capital intensive venture that was founded in 2000. It is a  thriving operation today, but the road to get to this point was fraught with scores of challenges in the beginning. Primarily, it was a matter of turning these carriers—and other gatekeepers—from competitors into partners. Justin’s prediction that the internet would take the world by storm in the near future was a driving force that paid off in spades.</p><p>As a data center business, SRT began with <em>infrastructure as a service</em> as its sole focus: they build, operate, maintain, and own the buildings that house all the servers for the internet. Today, these sites serve as the “heartbeat” for tech companies such as Alibaba, Tencent, and JD.com. Because of recent, rapid advancements in technology, today, SRT also offers <em>platforms as a service</em> (cloud, data, and big data analytics vendors) as a necessary additional layer atop infrastructure.</p><p>Information traveled incredibly slowly in the early 1990s China. Justin’s initial goal was to simply speed things up. The biggest strength he saw in the country’s carriers was that they were very eager to invest in building up the infrastructure and capabilities of the internet. The goal of SRT was to develop the infrastructure so that the cost of delivery to consumers could be minimized. Over time, this grew the number of internet users in China to over 900 million in the first quarter of 2020.</p><p>5G takes the latency—the time it takes for data to move between a device and the servers—down to zero. It makes connectivity much smoother and effectively instant. Driverless cars are incredibly prone to accidents if they use 4G, with its latency of 40 milliseconds. 5G removes this barrier, as well as those of many other industries, which allows for further innovations such as telemedicine and remote surgery.</p>
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Andrea Fenn | How the New Rich Changed Luxury Fashion Marketing and the Phenomenon of Live Streaming for Commerce
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Andrea Fenn, a sinologist and journalist who regularly publishes articles and conducts lectures on China’s fast-paced, ever-evolving digital ecosystem. Andrea is also the founder and CEO at Fireworks, which he refers to as a “post-digital agency”. This is due to his belief that brand growth in today’s digital landscape should go beyond vanity metrics such as <em>likes and followers</em>. Instead, Fireworks focuses on actual conversions.</p><p>Andrea sheds light on how luxury fashion marketing has changed dramatically in China when the advent of the “new rich” coincided with the rise of social media and eCommerce solutions. Now that there is less exclusivity in the market and more transparency among buyers, improving one’s sense of style is less about showing off one’s status and more about expressing one’s unique personality.</p><p>Much like in other parts of the world, influencer marketing is also on the rise. Todd points out a few outrageous internet personalities who sell millions of dollars worth of product on a daily basis by the sheer power of their personal brands. Andrea replies that “there is a constant need for reassurance; a constant need for establishing trust in Chinese consumers.” He goes on to quote a certain Chinese scholar who said that “the Chinese are suspicious yet gullible.” This attitude, says Andrea, applies to both published news and consumption choices among the Chinese.</p><p>There is no “standard marketing protocol” in China. Digital trends are always changing depending on whichever direction the largest eCommerce companies (ex. Alibaba, Tencent, etc.) choose to take. In the West, brands build their audiences from scratch using their unique, individual platforms, Chinese businesses, on the other hand, are beholden to established third-party platforms.</p>
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Mark Greeven | China's 4 Types of Innovators & Building Resiliency Through Organizational Structure
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with author and educator Mark Greeven. He is a former Associate Professor at Zhejiang University’s School of Management in Hangzhou, China. Today, Mark serves as Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.</p><p>The biggest difference between teaching at Zhejiang and at IMD is that the former “has all the features of a bureaucracy that you could imagine when it comes to state-run public institutions.” Despite the limitations imposed on Mark during his time at Zhejiang, he found it refreshing that the students were nevertheless eager to learn anything that Mark was willing to teach.</p><p>If a foreigner is considering doing business in China, it pays to know the culture and the ecosystems that are unique to the country. Mark says that it will help greatly to familiarize oneself with all the eCommerce and social media platforms that essentially run the modern Chinese economy.</p><p>In China, Mark classifies four types of innovators who help shape the country’s business landscape on a cyclical basis. The first type is the <em>pioneers</em>: usually large, well-known business entities who kickstart or capitalize on new systems or technologies that will continue to evolve, such as manufacturing (in the 1980s) and the internet (in the 2000s). The second group is the <em>hidden champions</em>: lesser-known companies who are proficient when it comes to one specific technology, application, or industrial product. The third type is the <em>technology underdogs</em>: mostly younger companies founded by overseas returnees with newfound prestigious academic accolades. The fourth and final group is the <em>changemakers</em>: digital-driven ventures who believe in rapid iterations and offer disruptive new ideas for traditional industries.</p><p>Everything in China is always moving. In fact, Mark considers 2015 as having occurred “eons ago”. Countless waves of creativity and innovation have come and gone since. The Chinese, in times past, were not known to be inventors of new technologies as much as they were known to be able to adapt and mass-produce products that come from these technologies. Today, things have changed. When it comes to software engineering, AI, and biotechnology, China is now at the forefront of many breakthrough technologies.</p>
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Michael Zakkour Part 2 | Amazon Laid Bare, How Integrated Systems Helped Chinese eCommerce Rebound, and Thriving by Focusing on the Three "C's"
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Michael Zakkour returns to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the state of retail in China and the rest of the world.</p><p>Setting the context for the discussion, Michael says that it is not a question of which <em>retailers</em> are doing well, but which <em>integrated systems </em>are. One of the factors that held China together during the worst of the crisis was the “ecosystems for retail, commerce, and communication that Alibaba, JD, Tencent, Pinduoduo, and Kaola had built.” These ecosystems reliably put products into the hands of consumers regardless of distance and are made even more seamless via technologies such as contactless delivery.</p><p>Michael warns that the tail end of the COVID-19 crisis will only hasten the demise of those companies who are “just hanging on”, along with physical retail in general. Specifically, malls and department stores were already in decline before the outbreak—their future does not look any better.</p><p>The eCommerce landscape, on the other hand, will experience both positive and negative developments. “The difference between eCommerce, digital commerce, and the New Retail,” says Michael, “is that, in the New Retail, physical retail actually matters.” The clicks will not spell the demise of the bricks. Rather, the key is in how a brand will integrate their physical and digital presence. To stay in the race, digital should directly influence physical.</p><p>Some consumer behaviors in China have been permanently altered. Ecommerce solutions will obviously be on the rise. A “stay-at-home culture” will also emerge as more people realize how efficiently they can continue to live and work in the comfort of their own living spaces, solely using the power of the internet.</p><p>Even as lockdowns around the world are lifted, the way we do business will be completely different in the new normal. In order to thrive in this upcoming reality, brands will be wise to “rethink how they make, move, sell, and buy” by reevaluating their business model from the perspective of four different Cs: <em>consumer-centricity</em>, <em>customization</em>, <em>convenience</em>, and <em>contribution</em>.</p>
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Bay McLaughlin | Exploring the World of IoT, Innovation Outside the G8, & Juxtaposing Eastern European and Asian Entrepreneurs With North American
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Bay McLaughlin, Co-Founder, and COO at Brinc.io, an early-stage venture accelerator. He describes his partnership with fellow Co-Founder Manav Gupta as unorthodox in that they were not wholly familiar with each other’s backgrounds when they first met. What they did have individually, however, was the self-confidence needed to dive headfirst into a new venture. This attitude of <em>purpose over profit </em>drives many of Brinc’s thoughts on the IoT startup space.</p><p>The founding of Brinc goes against the grain of conventional startup journeys. For one, Bay and Manav invested their own money in the business, having had no institutional backers for their first three-and-a-half years. They also decided to focus on and establish bases exclusively in developing countries as they foresaw immense growth in these locations in the coming decades.</p><p>When it comes to the modern-day investor’s thought process, Bay notes that physical products that require longer and more complex R&amp;D cycles will almost always receive more funding. Investors are also becoming more vertically-focused. That is, they will look at specific problems that businesses are looking to solve within specific industries.</p><p>Historically, traditional software companies take around 7 to 10 years to go public. IoT companies go through a long life cycle: around 10 to 12 years, according to Bay. However, he does not see a good reason for any business (IoT or otherwise), who is vying to be a market leader, to go public too quickly. The fork-in-the-road decision is whether a founder intends to grow on its own effort (i.e. via fundraising) or to seek outside corporate aid in solving its problems.</p><p>COVID-19 negatively impacted the IoT startup world from both the supply chain and investment perspectives. The least affected parties are those consumer IoT teams that strive to stay as lean as possible with their inventory. From an investment standpoint, companies now need to consider how wide their nets are with their LPs. This goes back to Bay’s previous point that businesses who play the long game—instead of looking only at their valuation—not only have the best chance for survival but may very well thrive in the new normal.</p>
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Dr. Julie Klinger | Rare Earth Metals - Not Rare, In Everything From Magnets To Missiles, & China Dominates The Industry
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Dr. Julie Klinger, an expert on the rare earth elements industry whose research focuses on finding solutions for current and potential sustainability issues.</p><p>Rare earth metals are, in fact, not actually rare. They are as common as copper or lead in terms of their occurrence on the Earth’s crust. The term refers to a family of elements located in the lanthanide series, which makes up the top bar of the “island” found south of the periodic table.</p><p>Each rare earth element is distinct and unique, but what they have in common are magnetic and conductive properties. It is these properties that make certain technologies possible, particularly any type of technology that requires energy generation. These include fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energy. Drastic innovations and increased demand for such technologies naturally contributed to increased demand for rare earth metals in the last 30 years.</p><p>Since the 1980s, China has been the primary source of rare earth elements worldwide, with over 100,000 people employed in the industry. However, just about every country in the world has sufficient rare earth deposits that could, in theory, be mined. The primary reason they stay untouched is that it is expensive to mine them safely: The geological conditions under which they coalesce happen to be exactly the same as those of radioactive materials. This means that, quite often, rare earth mining creates a radioactive waste management situation.</p><p>China has a huge influence on global rare earth research and development, as well as applications. Julie divides China’s role in the rare earth metals world into roughly three phases. The first phase took place during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, where tremendous amounts of research were put into potential rare earth applications. The second phase was post-1978 with Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, when other countries were encouraged to relocate their industries to China, effectively making the country “the industrial platform of the world”. The third phase started in 2003 when China’s central government started to impose quotas on the export of rare earth oxides. This is because the country had begun to turn its focus to value-added processing and environmental cleanliness.</p>
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Rick Watson | Amazon vs. Alibaba, Including Seller & Buyer Experiences and Influencer Impact
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Rick Watson, founder, and CEO at RMW Commerce Consulting. With over 20 years of experience in the eCommerce industry, Rick shares his thoughts on industry giants in China and the U.S.</p><p>Asked how different Alibaba is from Amazon, Rick starts off by addressing the Western notion that these two eCommerce companies essentially share the same business model—the only difference being that they were founded in different countries. It is inaccurate to assume that Alibaba is simply “China’s Amazon”. Relating Alibaba to the West, he refers to the company as a combination of Facebook, Google, <em>and </em>Amazon. Even then, this would only be an approximation of Alibaba’s true scale.</p><p>Not only is Alibaba a more “expansive” e-commerce company than Amazon, but it is also “pure to the marketplace model as opposed to Amazon who is developing its own products and buying inventory.” Alibaba considers it a huge risk to buy inventory. The fact is that third-party sellers are taking home more profit than the platform provided to them by Amazon—a fact acknowledged by Jeff Bezos himself.</p><p>Different eCommerce platforms offer different experiences for both buyers and sellers. Customers need to be particularly cautious on Alibaba as buyer protections are said to be lacking. Tmall is described as the “eyes closed experience” since there is very little chance of being defrauded on the platform. You are also expected to invest in your brand on Tmall. On the other hand, sellers on Amazon are basically “paying rent” to host their products on the platform, which means that <em>you are Amazon’s customer, not the seller’s</em>.</p><p>“You are replaceable.” This is an unspoken motto that Amazon abides by. Since Amazon sellers have few options in the way of marketing, their products may be buried by the search engine, which is wholly influenced by customer activity at any point in time. “Sellers are lucky to be there, at the blessing and bidding of Amazon,” says Rick.</p>
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Joshua Eisenman | China's Asymmetric Global Advantage and Defining "Relational Power"
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Joshua Eisenman, an Associate Professor of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame and a senior fellow for China studies at the American Foreign Policy Council.</p><p>Joshua goes over his four published books on the topic of China and the developing world: <em>China and the Developing World: Beijing’s Strategy for the Twenty-First Century </em>(2007), <em>China and Africa: A Century of Engagement </em>(2012), <em>China Steps Out: Beijing’s Major Power Engagement with the Developing World </em>(2018), and <em>Red China's Green Revolution: Technological Innovation, Institutional Change, and Economic Development Under the Commune </em>(2018).</p><p>Joshua describes China’s relationship with the developing world as “emerging and reemerging.” In explaining these relations with African countries, as well as almost all developing countries (with the exception of India), Joshua uses the term “comprehensive asymmetry.”</p><p>Having an asymmetric advantage means that China has power over these developing countries on three measures: the international level (or comprehensive national strength), the state level, and the working (or human) level. Taken together, these three measures shed light on imbalances in trade, capital aid, and the resources available to policymakers. In a nutshell, the importance that China places on developing countries is evidenced by investing in their ability to rise as a major power in today’s world.</p><p>Another important factor is that China views its connections in terms of “relational power”. This means that China expands its network of contacts because, the larger and stronger that network is, the greater China’s influence is. The goal of the Communist Party of China is to develop relationships with as many high-quality parties as possible in order to enhance this relational power and, by extension, its comprehensive national strength.</p><p>The One Belt One Road initiative has evolved from a debt-driven finance strategy to enhance infrastructure development throughout the developing world, into a powerful means to push its overall power on the world stage. That is, One Belt One Road initially did not include countries such as Africa or Latin America as it was an entirely Asia-based strategy. Today, beyond the construction of roads and other lines of communication, the initiative now forwards the development of high-tech infrastructure to create Smart Cities. These include 5G networks, facial recognition software, security.</p><p>In short, One Belt One Road <em>is </em>China’s strategy for the developing world.</p>
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Ashley Dudarenok | How COVID-19 Has Changed The China eCommerce Landscape
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Ashley Galina, a bestselling author, global speaker, and founder of two companies: the social media agency Alarice, and the marketing training organization ChoZan. She discusses how Chinese businesses will approach brand strategy as the world starts to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and move towards the new normal.</p><p>Ashley says that first and second-tier cities in mainland China have already shown signs of recovery, as people are now back out on the streets, socializing, and shopping. However, many other lower-tier cities will be slower to recover. An air of uncertainty still grips many of these smaller businesses and their employees. As a result, they are more intent on holding on to their savings rather than looking to invest.</p><p>With this context in mind, Ashley recommends that brands ask themselves the question: “Who am I serving?” This includes going all-in on one target consumer with a particular set of wants and needs. At least in the short-term, brands cannot afford to serve everyone. Instead, brands should go all-in on a single message that they will base the entirety of their marketing around moving forward. “In China, there are so many consumer groups,” says Ashley. “There are 1.4 billion people and they all have different journeys. You need to investigate what the revised journey for your consumer group is, and then react.”</p><p>The economy is going to recover slowly in the wake of the pandemic. Companies who have a “boots on the ground” presence in China will always have an edge over those who simply observe trends from the outside. But even if a company is unable to be physically present to witness consumer behavior day-by-day, they can continue to thrive in the market as long as they act <em>fast </em>on the trends they are observing.</p><p>In order to hone in on your target customer’s new journey, it helps to do three things: In the short-term, focus on what matters to people today and exercise authentic compassion as a brand. In the medium-term, make up for lost ground by looking for which new channels and platforms to invest in. In the long-term, observe how the whole landscape has shifted. That is, “How has China, as a whole, changed?”</p>
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Sarah Weyman | The Impact of COVID-19 & Adjusting To The New Marketing Normal In China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Sarah Weyman, Chief Growth Officer at Dentsu Aegis Network. She discusses the impact of COVID-19 on Chinese businesses and the future of marketing as the whole world marches on towards the new normal.</p><p>The outbreak of Coronavirus at the beginning of 2020 fundamentally changed the business world. A few months into the pandemic, those who continue to not only stay afloat but <em>thrive</em> are those companies that, according to Sarah, are the <em>most authentic</em>. These are the brands that have managed to keep consumer needs at the forefront of their strategy moving forward.</p><p>Sarah names the sportswear brand Lululemon as an example of a brand who focused on its customers first since the outbreak. Seeing that people wanted to continue exercising even while staying indoors, Lululemon provided a list of trainers who livestreamed workouts. Another example is Microsoft who, not long after the outbreak, announced a package for Enterprise users that gives free access to Office for six months.</p><p>From a long-term perspective, “preference should not be presumed” when it comes to foreign brands in China. Being a western company used to be an advantage as such brands were usually associated with high-quality. This is no longer true since there is a greater diversity of choice in today’s market. Many modern brands in China are not only at the cutting edge of quality but are able to maintain that cutting edge due to the <em>speed </em>of their operations. To thrive in China today, any brand, local or foreign, must now match this speed.</p><p>Asked how companies should tackle the remainder of 2020 in the wake of now-outdated marketing plans and budgets, Sarah says that short-term action should include shifts in messaging and platform selection. Long-term, companies should closely monitor how consumer behavior continues to evolve in the following months, which means that CRMs will be more important than ever before. Also, eCommerce solutions—and social commerce in general—will undergo rapid developments throughout the year.</p><p>Food, beverage, and entertainment will see the fastest rebound once the dust settles because consumers will crave social interaction as soon as the new normal emerges. The travel industry will be one of the slowest to get back on track due to the massive losses that such companies are currently suffering. However, it is predicted that family destinations (Sarah cites Disneyland Shanghai as an example) will have the fastest rebound, also because of the aforementioned social factor.</p>
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Ben Robinson | The Japanese Market - Shopify Success, Building Brand Loyalty & Consumer Trends
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Ben Robinson, Merchant Success Manager at Shopify Plus. He shares his experience working with a growing number of large Asia-Pacific brands on the ecommerce platform, with a focus on the Japanese market.</p><p>Many of the brands Ben works with today are generally “high-growth, high-volume stores that are looking to increase their presence in different markets.” Ben and his team evaluate each company’s business model and operational capability in order to help them maximize the platform’s features. Two examples of brands who have successfully gone global are Koala Mattress and Allbirds.</p><p>To successfully localize products for the Japanese market, Ben says that it all comes down to three factors: <em>trust</em>, <em>presentation</em>, and <em>knowing what is important to the Japanese consumer by region</em>. Regarded as one of the most insular and protective markets globally, consumers generally prefer Japanese-made products and brands. He explains that the three consumer trends unique to Japan today are <em>cost</em>, <em>space-saving</em>, <em>luxury</em>, and <em>eco-friendliness and sustainability</em>. Ben recommends foreign brands to work with local influencers through social media to help grow their level of trust and relatability.</p><p>Foreign brands should research the already-established ecommerce ecosystem that is unique to Japan. They must then tailor their marketing, copy, and brand message accordingly, with a focus on describing your product’s <em>features</em>, since the Japanese tend to do extensive research on new brands before making a single purchase. It will also greatly help to tailor your SEO per region by understanding different writing systems and styles. Ben notes that Yahoo is as prevalent in Japan as Google is; so SEO must be optimized for both search engines.</p><p>To build brand loyalty using social media, it is important to first understand that the Japanese use social media differently to Westerners. Line is more widely used over Facebook. Twitter and YouTube also have a large presence, and Instagram is slowly catching on as well. It helps to drive consumer interactions post-purchase. After a sale is made, the brand can encourage consumers—even incentivize them—to leave positive reviews or share their experiences either through writing or video. This can go a long way in nurturing loyalty.</p>
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Ann Lee | Myths & Misconceptions About China, Wall Street to Best Selling Author X2, & The Impact of COVID-19
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Ann Lee, author of <em>What the U.S. Can Learn from China </em>(2012) and <em>Will China’s Economy Collapse? </em>(2017). Having risen to fame for predicting the market crash of 2008, today she is a leading authority on international finance and economics.</p><p>Ann worked on Wall Street soon after graduating from business school, but made the transition to academia in 2006 once she foresaw the credit crisis. In 2008, she was invited to teach on credit markets and credit derivatives as a visiting professor at Peking University in Beijing. Chinese policymakers quickly caught wind of Ann’s expertise in this area once the market crashed, and she was subsequently approached to help them navigate the financial crisis which followed. She published her first book a few years later, which received worldwide acclaim and instantly gave Ann a global following.</p><p>When asked what readers can expect to learn from <em>What the U.S. Can Learn from China</em>, Ann says the message is to “stop demonizing [China]. As wonderful and as powerful as the U.S. is, it does not have a monopoly on good ideas.” She adds that the book is not meant to endorse one country as being better than the other. Rather, it is meant to help readers open their mind to cultural nuances present in the way each country approaches different issues.</p><p>Ann was able to predict the global financial crisis thanks to her experience working on Wall Street. To her, the biggest problem was that there was too much power in the hands of the federal reserve, big banks, and other prominent financial institutions of the time. In other words, innovation was nowhere near as important as money. China, on the other hand, approached finance as a tool for nation-building, similar to the attitude displayed by the Founding Fathers of the United States.</p><p>“Doing business in China is like doing business anywhere else.” The important thing is to do your due diligence before making any sort of investment or negotiating with a local business. China is actually ranked as one of the most open countries to do business with. Hypercompetitiveness is the only factor that Ann highlights—there is a lot of ambition in the country. At the same time, there are fewer regulations in China than there are in many Western countries. Ann goes as far as saying that “it is almost <em>too </em>capitalistic in China.”</p><p>Ann also touches on the attention-grabbing title of her second book, <em>Will China’s Economy Collapse?</em>. In 2015, many on Wall Street believed that China was on the verge of collapse due to a highly volatile stock market and rapidly shrinking currency reserves.</p>
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Marian Danko | Weathering The VC Winter, Why China Will Win The AI Race, & Second Tier Cities To Watch
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Marian Danko, founder of the tech innovation platform weHustle; and TECOM, a conference for tech entrepreneurs. A native of Ukraine, Marian experienced culture shock upon arriving in China, particularly when it came to the rapid <em>speed</em> that defines the nation’s startup ecosystem.</p><p>Speaking on Shanghai’s tech startup landscape, Marian says that “the ceiling is very high and the floor is very low”. That is, while Shanghai can be regarded as “an expensive city”, from an entrepreneur’s perspective, it can actually be a wellspring of highly lucrative investment opportunities compared to Silicon Valley, London, Dubai, or Singapore.</p><p>Secondly, if a business owner wishes to put together an international team, the visa process is easier in China versus in the US. This means fewer costs and hurdles to have an international team based in one location.</p><p>Asked about the investment landscape in China, Marian notes that a distinction should first be made between local and foreign early-stage startups as each has very different challenges to the other. Foreign companies will not be able to avail of bank loans as easily as local ones, simply because they cannot be trusted to remain in the country after a few years.</p><p>With this context in mind, Marian says that venture capitalists are beginning to experience a “capital winter” in the country. He attributes this to the market becoming more mature. In the early days of tech startups in China, investors would actually lose money by banking on every trend that came their way. Having learned the hard way, they are now more savvy to the types of startups that are worth investing in. In other words, today’s investment landscape is defined not by <em>quantity</em>, but by <em>quality</em>.</p><p>Next, Marian discusses “mobile-first, mobile-only”. 90% of startups in China create apps and mini-programs. Some startups do not even have websites; instead, their first and primary focus is <em>mobile solutions</em>. He adds that there is also a lot of reliance on WeChat nowadays, adding to this culture of “mobile-first, mobile-only”.</p><p>China will lead the way when it comes to VR and AR. A lot of startups today are focused purely on VR and AR solutions. More than one startup is incorporating these technologies into marketing and advertising, and they have already created successful and cost-effective campaigns as a result.</p><p>Likewise, a lot of Chinese startups are focusing on AI. Much of that influence can be attributed to the government. This is because, in order to dominate the market, China’s government is pouring funds (i.e. for grants, incubators, etc.) into AI-related ventures, giving startups the opportunity to constantly innovate in this industry.</p>
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Scott Laprise | Communism, Guanxi, Innovation vs Adaptation, & Trying to Financially Analyze China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Scott Laprise discusses his transition from a career in diagnostic medicine to a financial analyst and researcher for emerging markets specifically within China.</p><p>Scott considers Chinese languages the most important to study because of the country’s position as a key player in world business. Additionally, it is not enough to converse in English because the Chinese express themselves in a way that is fundamentally different from how Westerners communicate. Scott, therefore, always seeks to understand the Chinese point-of-view on any given topic before negotiating or simply engaging in conversation with them.</p><p>Asked whether China can still be considered a “communist” country, Scott brings context by explaining that, at one point, China (specifically Mao Zedong) sought to partner with Russia, adopting elements of their political philosophy as a result. Today, however, Scott actually thinks of China as the <em>most capitalist country today</em>: While there are semblances of a planned economy, the Chinese themselves are very business-oriented and are masterful negotiators.</p><p>Scott also touches on the term <em>guanxi </em>as a cultural aspect that is uniquely Chinese. “The more you know people, the more you can ask things of them, and the more they can ask things of you.” He also notes that <em>time </em>also plays a big role, considering the long-term worldview of China. That is, the longer you have known someone in China, the stronger the reciprocal dynamic present in the relationship.</p><p>Scott goes on to talk about the ever-growing consumer culture in China. The speed and bottom-line-oriented nature of the economy mean less customer loyalty and a higher amount of unregulated pollution, but all of it speaks to China’s ability to pivot and become a dominant player in the market with relative ease.</p><p>On that note, Scott states that China is not actually <em>innovative </em>but <em>adaptive</em>. The Chinese do not care all that much about patents because they do not focus on novelty. He believes that countries that impose patent laws “are the rich countries that have a lot to lose”. China’s point of view, on the other hand, is to simply “catch up”.</p><p>Scott shares his point of view on the complicated situation around the US-China “Phase 1” trade deal, as well as what gives him an edge as a financial analyst. His viewpoints on these subjects are obviously influenced by the fact that Scott is a Westerner who lives locally—boots on the ground—in China, with business experience in both cultures.</p>
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Olivia Plotnick | All About WeChat - Mini-Programs, The Power of WOW, & Building Awareness vs. Building Relationships
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Olivia Plotnick talks about her entry into China as an entrepreneur from the United States. She shares how she was able to grow WeChat accounts at a massive rate in a fast-paced marketplace whose consumer culture is so different from her home country’s. She also explains how brands can capitalize on certain WeChat features, such as Top Stories, the “Wow” function, and WeChat groups.</p><p>When asked how companies should look at WeChat in 2020, Olivia recalls how WeChat gradually transitioned from a purely consumer-based social media platform to a brand-building tool. Before, you could only receive messages from friends and family. Now, Nike and Under Armor can reach out to you. Olivia calls this a “sacred space” in that brands can now develop personal relationships with consumers. This is why it is important for brands to put out relevant content, or risk being unfollowed.</p><p>In China, there are a large number of social platforms—or what Olivia likes to refer to as “ecosystems”. Olivia prefers to divide these platforms into two different categories. There are eCommerce platforms such as Tmall.com and JD.com, social media platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok). Each of these two categories serves a different purpose.</p><p>How does WeChat stand out in this sea of platforms? According to Olivia, while Douyin is an “awareness-building platform”, WeChat is more of a “relationship-building platform”. Many brands use WeChat to educate their audience and provide loyalty programs. Ecommerce platforms like Taobao, on the other hand, are where “you push to sell”. Ultimately, you need to be aware of what most people use the platform for and produce content appropriate to user activity.</p>
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Kevin Johannes Wörner | Helping Chinese Corporates Innovate, Mobile-First Mobile-Only Differences For B2C & B2B, and the Future of AI and Big Data Analytics
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Kevin Johannes Wörner discusses his background in venture capital and the startup space in China. The German-born entrepreneur developed an “appetite” for the Chinese market at an early age. He studied at Tongji University before working for some time in Germany as a management consultant. Following this, he founded the business accelerator Properas in Berlin.</p><p>It was around this point, however, that he decided it was time he made the move to China. He got in touch with Wei Zhou, founder of XNode, and today Kevin works on the company’s startup acceleration practice. XNode does three things: 1) coworking spaces, 2) corporate innovation, and 3) startup acceleration (with a focus on cross-border acceleration).</p><p>One distinguishing feature of XNode’s two-month acceleration program is that the company works closely with governments. It is by building trust with these governments that XNode is able to bring in a steady flow of international startups to work with. Not only does this make working relationships easier, but it also allows XNode to leverage this worldwide network to find even more startups and entrepreneurs to partner with. The ultimate goal that XNode has for each and every one of its startups is a <em>tangible business impact</em>.</p><p>When asked about the difference between how Chinese and Western startups scale their businesses, Kevin says that the Chinese practice the Lean Startup methodology, which makes them practical, incredibly fast, and highly responsive to the market. This was the source of much cultural shock during Kevin’s first month working in China, having been so used to the more gradual speed of German business.</p><p>If Western companies wish to catch up to China’s speed, Kevin encourages <em>cultural exchange</em>. It is not enough to simply preach speed, pragmatism, or innovation—this will change nothing. Instead, Kevin wishes to have more Western companies and governments working together by “building bridges”. This involves reaching out to those already working in China—which include Westerners such as Todd and Kevin themselves who have developed a deep understanding and appreciation of the market over time.</p><p>On the topic of “mobile-first, mobile-only”, Kevin likes to differentiate between B2B and B2C. For B2C startups, it is difficult to create applications for Chinese consumers. Instead, it is better to use existing platforms to do sales and marketing. On the other hand, it is easier for B2B startups to create new mobile solutions simply due to their smaller ecosystems—there is no need to change a consumer culture shared by millions (if not billions) of people.</p>
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Cyril Ebersweiler | eCommerce Pre iPhone, Building the Worlds's #1 Hardware Accelerator, & The Next Big Thing
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Cyril Ebersweiler shares 20 years of business experience working with various brands in China.</p><p>Cyril began his career as an eCommerce project manager for Carrefour, launching China’s first online retail platform. From there, he worked with Adidas for four months before making the switch to Air France, where he would work for the next three years. Air France at the time was taking major steps to invest and promote greater relationships in China.</p><p>From Air France, Cyril joined TBWA and became heavily involved in the company’s marketing efforts. Initially, Cyril intended to work with TBWA because he wanted to go to the country in the pre-iPhone days when Japan was the leader in mobile technology. Cyril believes that this experience gave him great insight into the future of mobile marketing and eCommerce capabilities. Cyril’s work eventually brought him back to China, in Dalian, where he met investor Sean O’Sullivan. The two worked together with technology startups in China.</p><p>When it comes to the difference between American and Chinese entrepreneurs, Cyril says that while the Chinese are incredibly efficient in their workflow, their marketing in other countries could improve. Foreigners looking to invest in China, on the other hand, sometimes have trouble adapting to the local culture.</p><p>In 2011, Cyril founded the venture capital corporation HAX in Shenzhen. When asked why he decided for the company to be based in Shenzhen, Cyril says that “just by being [in a specific location], [companies] are automatically augmented by the ecosystem around them.” Since Shenzhen is known as the “Silicon Valley of Hardware”, Cyril intends to tap into local resources—from large brands down to mom-and-pop stores—that would maximize his company’s capabilities. </p>
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Jacob Cooke | Special Edition Coronavirus Update
<p>For the past 7 months, this show has been all about China and the amazing opportunities that lie in wait for companies willing to put in the work to be successful there. China’s business landscape and culture have been our bread and butter, it’s what this show has been built upon, and because of that, we need to talk about the tragic events that have been happening there over the last month due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The past month has been a difficult one for China and those impacted by the Coronavirus. We at The Negotiation and WPIC Marketing + Technologies have been impacted as well, and our hearts go out to our colleagues, friends, and loved ones that are suffering from the impact of this terrible virus. Our prayers go out to all of you and anyone listening who may have a loved one who has contracted the virus and we wish them and everyone a speedy recovery. Our thoughts are with you now and will be with you through every subsequent episode until this tragedy has been put behind us.</p><p><br></p><p>That said the show must go on, as they say, so with a heavy heart we’ve asked our helmsman Jacob Cooke, CoFounder, and CEO of WPIC Marketing + Technologies, if he would be kind enough to jump on for a quick discussion about the online and offline commercial landscape due to the Coronavirus outbreak, what the data is showing us given much of the country is shut-in or closed for the time being, and what companies can be doing in the meantime to be prepared for the chapter that follows this one.</p><p><br></p><p>Again, to everyone impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak out thoughts and prayers are with you.</p>
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Sarah Kutulakos | The Rise of the Middle Class and How eCommerce Has Changed Corporate Infrastructures
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Sarah Kutulakos talks about her experiences working for the Canada China Business Council (CCBC) for twelve years, and how doing business between both countries has changed over the last decade.</p><p>Sarah talks about the evolution of the “depth of companies’ activities in China”. She highlights eCommerce as a big game-changer for the consumer market, as well as brands’ bolder attitude as a whole towards the creation of IPs.</p><p>Sarah says that if you do not figure out how to compete in China, you will not know how to beat Chinese competitors in your own core markets. It is not that going to China is a must; but if you have a product or service “that aligns with China’s consumption trends or five-year plan,” then it may be worth entering the market. However, she highly recommends tooling and partnering up before even considering an expansion. Those who try to impose their brand in China without the proper partners or support group will fizzle out fast.</p><p>The rise of the middle class in China was a key factor in achieving the unmatched speed of its economy today. “The capacity to accomplish is unfathomable,” says Sarah. At the same time, it is much harder to integrate as a foreigner today compared to as recently as 2011 due to changes in technology. “They used to roll out the red carpet for foreigners,” says Todd.</p><p>Sarah specifically points to April 2019 as a turning point that gave foreigners “second class status”, when, unless one had a local bank account, they would be unable to use digital payment systems. “We are not the shiny new thing,” concludes Todd. “They know now that <em>they </em>are the shiny new thing.”</p><p>Regarding how CCBC has impacted her home market, Sarah says that their incubation function has greatly expanded. The decision to enter China is not a light one, but Sarah is now confident that the team she is working with can help serve as the bridge between the two countries.</p>
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Scott Silverman | Context Over Content, The Demand for Immediacy, & Experiential Marketing
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Scott Silverman emphasizes <em>efficiency </em>and <em>localizing new technologies </em>as the two keys to brand success.</p><p>When it comes to promoting your product, your service, or even your company, you must influence the perception around the thing you intend to bring exposure to. As to “what’s in the soup”, the most <em>sacrosanct</em> are 1) the product, and 2) the key benefit. The brand must be aware of the sensibilities of its target consumer and market accordingly.</p><p>Scott brings up Lenovo’s ThinkPad as an example. Instead of simply translating the copy into Chinese word-for-word, the better approach would be to “calibrate” the benefits to better resonate with the Chinese buyer, which may include the <em>tone</em> and <em>manner</em> of the promotional material. “<em>Content</em> is <em>not</em> key,” says Scott. “<em>Context</em> is key.”</p><p>Scott works in multiple markets in Asia. To thrive as a marketer in these countries, especially as a Westerner, he says that you must “be like a comedian: You have to know your audience.” For instance, he likens Hong Kong to Shanghai (and even Germany), wherein they simply want the hard facts listed out, sans an abundance of visual metaphors.</p><p>Specifically, they want to know these three things: “What is it? How much does it cost? Why should we care?” In fact, Scott does not like to use the term “Asian market” as they are all different, to the point that he now focuses on marketing to<em> individual cities</em>.</p><p>Scott believes that <em>direct response campaigns</em> are the best way to measure consumer insights. These are incredibly valuable in that, for a specific product, a brand may decide on different <em>calls to action</em> or rearranging the <em>list of benefits</em> depending on the city.</p><p>Measuring data was “very basic” in the 2000s compared to today’s market. This was partly due to changes in communication—back then we had direct mail; now we have email and social media. This allows for more clarity of consumer realities in real-time. “Almost 100% of what I do now is digital,” says Scott.</p><p>The recent “tsunami” of mobile solutions has completely revamped the economy. This led to brands opting for more <em>experiential</em> marketing that is uniquely mobile native. The <em>immediacy</em> of mobile is its defining trait. People became less patient, and the longer it took for them to receive something, the higher their expectations for it. “This is what brought creative and media together. It forced a relationship that before was a little tenuous.”</p><p>“In order to succeed in China, you need to be willing to <em>fail </em>many, many times. <em>The speed to fail is the speed to success.</em>”</p>
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Lauren Hallanan | Live Commerce, Private Traffic & Idle Fish
<p>Today on The Negotiation, marketing specialist Lauren Hallanan talks about all things digital marketing, influencers, and social media for brands in China. Lauren shares her insights on what platforms are on top and which are soon to be left in the past by consumers and brands alike. Listen in to learn what tactics are being used by domestic Chinese brands and why studying their approach could be the key to attracting superfans for a brand or product in China.</p><p> </p><p>We kick off this episode by asking Lauren for a breakdown of the social media landscape in China. WeChat, described by Lauren as a “super app” that is well on its way to simply becoming an operating system, has become the dominant social media platform in China. Its rich offerings simplify life for consumers, meeting all their needs in one synergized ecosystem. It also offers brands the freedom and tools they need to reach and interact with their customers in new ways. Other popular platforms discussed are Weibo, a platform that has become a part of the fabric that is Chinese social media; Douyin, the local parent of TikTop, is a short video platform has taken off in China; and Xiaohongshu aka Little Red Book, a fusion of Instagram, Pinterest &amp; a blogging platform like Medium or Reddit.</p><p> </p><p>We also talk about the shift away from Baidu for product searches in the buying lifecycle. In recent years Baidu has taken major hits to its credibility by not clearly separating ads from search results. Their handling of advertised post promotion amongst other mistakes has led to a significant loss of trust. </p><p>            </p><p>We discuss the tactics frequently used by successful brands in China, specifically using KOCs (key opinion customers) like the cosmetic brand Perfect Diary. Brands are also collaborating with thousands of very micro-influencers to get customers talking and reach beyond first-tier cities where physical retail is less available.</p><p> </p><p>We also discuss the issue around private traffic, the traffic to a brand’s website that is considered owned by them and not available to any other company. China’s heavy use of social media by brands, where more and more brands are creating hundreds of chat groups on social platforms to get closer to their fan base and even perform customer service, means the traffic is technically owned by the social media platform, not the brand which has its own potential complications.</p><p>Lastly, we talk about a new movement in China that points to a shift in culture; Idle Fish, an Alibaba platform for buying and selling second-hand goods, has become very popular thanks in part to influencers. We discuss several reasons Chinese consumers are starting to shift their opinion on buying used goods, including environmental and economic reasons.</p><p> </p><p>What are western brands missing when they try to enter the market in China? If you ask Lauren, it could be any number of the things mentioned above as well as a lack of perspective. She urges brands to start thinking of WeChat as their core engagement platform for their audience. She also suggests that they humble themselves in order and look to domestic Chinese competition, as they’re often “more agile, deeply understand the target audience and are unafraid of experimenting with the social media platforms that China runs on.</p>
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Tom Nixon | The Speed of China, An Innovation Mindset, & Reaching the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Tier Cities With Your Marketing
<p>Tom points to social changes as most fundamental to the rapid growth of the Chinese market, particularly with how quick consumers are in adopting new technologies. There are three keys to this change: 1) Immersion, or maximizing the buyer experience (i.e. standardizing vertical video); 2) Innovation, and framing these novel platforms as a positive lifestyle change; 3) Entertainment, which was never a huge factor to the Chinese consumer in the past.</p><p>According to Tom, there are two types of content: 1) Marketing content, which is produced by brands; and 2) User-generated content (UGC), which is created by the consumers themselves. When it comes to content that resonates with Chinese consumers, the focus should be put on who buyers are listening to at that point in time. This is always changing: From Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), today’s “authority figures” are micro-influencers.</p><p>The common thread here is the <em>democratization of business</em>. While before we were constantly faced with big, flashy, high-budget advertising, now we tend to listen more to raw, down-to-earth, and entertaining individual creators who are (seemingly) “just like us”.</p><p>Tom advises Western brands to understand their customers’ touchpoints and ecosystems. The biggest mistake companies make is not being aware of cultural nuances. At worst, they risk offending potential buyers with their marketing. At best, they know <em>where </em>consumers go, but not <em>how </em>to actually engage with them or how to tailor their brand to their target customers.</p><p>Tom’s real-life example is when a company once reached out for help regarding what content to produce on WeChat—without first considering whether WeChat is really the best place for them to be in. Understanding the platforms is important indeed, but it is just as important to understand the culture of the people using these platforms.</p>
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Rebecca Fannin | The Race for Technology Supremacy & Alibaba Life After Jack Ma
<p>The China tech scene has been on the rise for the past decade. However, challenges still exist (and are actually increasing in number) for foreign companies looking to enter China and vice versa.</p><p>            As the first foreign correspondent to interview Jack Ma, Rebecca was witness to the eCommerce tycoon’s early days as an entrepreneur. She remembers him as being charismatic, honest, and open. She notes that he did not seem to have any handlers around him listening to their conversation—although the situation is quite the opposite today.</p><p>            With Jack Ma’s departure as Chairman of Alibaba and his replacement by Daniel Zhang, Rebecca believes that the company will only continue to innovate and thrive with the new leadership. For example, 11.11, or Singles’ Day, was Daniel’s highly successful brainchild.</p><p>            With regards to the US and China’s respective strengths over each other, Rebecca brings up Kai-Fu Lee’s assertion that both countries are on the same level with regards to the development of artificial intelligence; however, China is implementing these technologies faster than the US is. At the same time, the US has the R&amp;D lead on AI. China is also implementing 5G and all-things mobile (particularly when it comes to payments such as Alipay and WeChat Pay) at breakneck speed.</p><p>            When a foreign brand decides to enter China, it’s important to put the right managers in place and not giving autonomy to the local staff when it comes to decision-making. This is mainly for purposes of communication speed, considering that the Chinese economy is moving incredibly fast. Waiting a week or two—or even overnight—for a decision may cost the brand any edge they have.</p><p>            “The challenges in China are more pronounced than in other markets,” says Rebecca. Think carefully on whether entering China, out of every other country, is really the best next step for your company.</p>
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Shawn Graham | From Politician to Chinese Business Consultant & The Importance of Building On-The-Ground Human Relationships in China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Shawn Graham discusses his transition from a politician in Canada to a business consultant in China. As the 31st Premier of New Brunswick, Shawn participated in a highly successful trade mission to China which brought an influx of new business for the Atlantic province.</p><p>Speaking of the various Canadian business leaders that Shawn accompanied on his trade mission, the former premier refers to the experience as a “baptism by fire”. At the time, China was quickly evolving and rapidly expanding its access around the world. There was huge potential for growth in this emerging market.</p><p>Shawn admits that he fell short of how far he could have taken the mission since his first trip to China also happened to take place during his last year as premier. “You need to be in China on a regular basis to cement those [business] relationships.” Beyond simply shaking hands or signing a contract, it is imperative to build an intimate, <em>human</em> relationship with a potential Chinese partner before any business can be done.</p><p>What amazes Shawn about the Chinese economy is that it seems to have grown dramatically every time he makes a visit (nowadays he visits up to eight times in one year). There are 30 million Chinese citizens that move into the middle class each year. This means that disposable wealth is on the rise, which means that the Chinese have grown very particular about who they do business with in order to maintain a good income. Shawn has seen many businesses fail because they march in to “do the deal” before establishing a friendship.</p><p>For anybody looking to do business in China, it helps to know a few important things. One of them is understanding the challenges peculiar to Chinese companies. As an example, Shawn brings up the ongoing talks to possibly bring Huawei and its 5G technology to North America. Another consideration is the climate. China has had a pollution issue for a long time and cannot accept being penalized for it when North America has been exploiting <em>its</em> environment for profit for over a century themselves to varying degrees. At the same time, one could say that China’s one-child policy was the country’s biggest sacrifice for their environment.</p><p>The bottom line, says Shawn, is that “the Chinese are not coming. They’ve already arrived. It’s best to learn to do business with them rather than against them.”</p>
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Doug Pearce | Chinese Megabrands, Agency Pitching Best Practices, & Using KOLs and Social Marketing in China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Doug Pearce discusses the rapid transformation in recent years of the media and advertising landscape in China.</p><p>Doug says that the media scene in China “is like nowhere else”. In place of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, the country has BAT, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and now TikTok creator ByteDance. The difference between these Chinese companies and their Western “counterparts” is that investments made by megabrands in China give them a huge number of platforms for advertisers to buy into. “They leverage everything to secure as much investment as they can from advertisers.”</p><p>Any company looking to succeed in China needs to be nimble. Consumer culture in the country is ever-changing, and the Chinese are known to expect speedy and efficient processes. They are also <em>not</em> brand conscious. Agencies can no longer rely on traditional media to do their marketing. Data and eCommerce are two other important factors to focus on. So is making use of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and social marketing.</p><p>Because today’s Chinese market is driven largely by eCommerce, social networking is an incredibly important tool for brands to leverage. Trends come and go quickly in China, so focusing on network effects versus corporate advertising is paramount.</p><p>When it comes to pitching in China, Doug notes that the market is highly competitive and price-conscious. Keys to a successful pitch include having a deep understanding of both local partners and consumer habits, as well as focusing on business outcomes and long-term results instead of just listing features and budget plans. Todd aptly summarizes this with: “Don’t just give me a design for a better mousetrap. Draw me a line to where the cheese is.”</p><p>Doug says that his number one “secret to success” is partnering with the right agency; particularly one which has a senior leader who really understands the brand’s vision-mission. In addition, “Have deep pockets, and go big, go bold, and go fast.” Brands thinking of entering the market will drown if they start small and slow. Achieving massive scale early on will keep a company afloat. “If you can crack it, the price is big.”</p>
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William Bao Bean | China's First Startup Accelerator, The Chinese Entrepreneur's Modus Operandi, & SOSV's Asia Investment Thesis
<p>Today on The Negotiation, William Bao Bean discusses what makes China one of the most competitive markets in the world. He points to the quick adoption of new technologies—particularly artificial intelligence—as one of the main drivers of the country’s economic growth. William says that machine learning allows for <em>personalization of consumer experience </em>on a virtually infinite scale, and many Chinese companies are using these resources relentlessly to their advantage.</p><p>            William observed that internet entrepreneurs in China operate with the mindset of, “Let’s see what worked somewhere else <em>and make it better</em>.” He refers to it as “Lean Startup with Chinese characteristics”. That is, assumptions are made and tested in the market repeatedly, with each iteration more refined than the last. Chinese entrepreneurs are unique in that the <em>speed </em>at which they test and refine assumptions (typically in two to three-month cycles) is second to none. Also, unlike the American application of Lean Startup where non-existent products may be brought to market for purposes of observation, the Chinese actually make their assumptions purely through real products that are ready to be sold.</p><p>            The world of angel investing in China can be best understood by actually having experience in starting up and managing a company. In addition, it helps greatly to be surrounded by a community of fellow VCs to ensure that you are constantly supported and on the cutting edge.</p><p>            William is a big believer in “Mobile-first; mobile-only.” William refers to a relatively recent phenomenon called “leapfrog effect” which occurred in a large number of non-Western markets. These countries never had a huge, fixed economy-driving infrastructure that was forced to evolve with the times. This turned out to be a key factor in their quicker adoption of eCommerce technologies on a countrywide scale compared to the West. These countries—with China leading the charge—have no problem with disruption from the outside, because they are already used to disrupting <em>themselves</em>.</p>
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Bessie Lee | 3 Decades of Marketing in China, Marketing Technology Startups, and How AI Is Disrupting it All Everywhere
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Bessie Lee, founder of Withinlink. She shares her experience working for WPP, a marketing and communications holding company. She discusses WPP’s challenging journey as it steadily grew into one of the leading advertising groups in China, from its timely entry into the market during the foreign investment boom in the mid-1970s to the rise of the internet and digital marketing in the country. It was during this latter period, in which online transactions drastically altered the economic landscape when Bessie Lee realized the difficulty of updating the mindset of large traditional advertising companies.</p><p>The marketing game truly changed when eCommerce rose to prominence. This became a rough transitional period for traditional media holding companies, including WPP. Previously, the entire advertising process ran purely on human capital. Today, becoming a leader in the fast-paced eCommerce world requires integrated marketing. This means working with automated technology to constantly acquire data to be able to do continuous A/B testing. Bessie discovered that large holding companies such as WPP found it challenging to quickly adapt to these rapid changes, and so she left the company to focus on helping startup digital agencies.</p><p>Today, Bessie runs Withinlink, “a uniquely-positioned strategic investor and incubator of marketing technology startups in China. We insisted on a boutique portfolio, so we can spend more time helping our portfolio companies expedite their growth.” A vertically-focused agency, Withinlink currently has 16 companies in its portfolio. This relatively small number is key to helping Withinlink put more focus and care into each individual company.</p><p>Bessie has a pulse on the latest marketing innovations in China, which influences which startups Withinlink adds to its portfolio. The “core” mediums utilized by consumers are social, mobile, and, most recently, artificial intelligence. The PC is no longer relevant. Chinese consumers have evolved from <em>mobile-first</em> to <em>mobile-only</em>, making <em>speedy innovation </em>a must for any company looking to thrive in today’s market.</p>
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Elizabeth Campbell | PPC West vs. East, Forming Chinese Marketing Teams, and the Value of Custom Built China Data Analytics Software
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Elizabeth Campbell discusses her experiences working in marketing communications in the Chinese market. She considers building up her businesses’ digital marketing capabilities as a “critical part of the overall growth strategy” in the country.</p><p>We start out diving into the differences in Pay-Per-Click in China vs. the West.<strong> </strong>When Elizabeth began looking into digital marketing in China, she and her team started by working with paid search in order to raise awareness and drive traffic to their websites. This was followed by a focus on SEO. As per her experience doing marketing in the west, her team had expected around 30% of their traffic to be drawn in via paid search, with the bulk of it coming in from SEO. However, she quickly found that the opposite is true in China. SEO brought in fewer leads compared to paid search due to the sheer amount of competition they faced for organic ad space. So, while PPC was used to “augment” traffic to her brands in the west, in China PPC is many companies' “bread and butter”.</p><p>We then asked Elizabeth to talk about her experiences building marketing teams in China.<strong> </strong>The danger for any global team is to strictly apply marketing practices from their home market to a foreign one. While sticking to certain fundamentals is a good idea, the team working in the foreign market must keep an open mind and be prepared to make use of tools and strategies that their company may not be familiar with.</p><p><br>Elizabeth started out with a small team in China that did not have the digital expertise required to compete in the market. She, therefore, partnered with an agency to put her on the right track. This is key for any foreign brand looking to invest in China: look for local partners who know the market and target segments inside and out—not just economically but culturally as well. In this case, Elizabeth made sure to partner with people who understood the current digital landscape.</p><p>Lastly, we covered data gathering in China.<strong> </strong>For the sake of consistency, Elizabeth usually utilizes the same marketing platforms across every market she is involved in, which includes Google Analytics. China is an exception. Here, she made use of <em>Chinalytics</em>, a platform built by her partner agency which gave her team the deep insights they needed to see what was working and what was not. Chinalytics gave her confidence in the data they gathered, more so than with traditional platforms.</p><p><br>She notes, however, that the Key Performance Indicators she tracked with Chinalytics are the same ones she always tracked using other platforms. Of these KPIs, she did not focus on measuring Cost Per Click but instead focused on the end result: the Cost Per Lead and how those leads actually converted to revenue. Focusing on these fundamentally changed the keywords, ad copy, landing page, etc. that her team used.</p>
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Sally Zhang | A Masterclass in Dominating Alibaba's Taobao eCommerce Platform
<p>Today on The Negotiation, Sally Zhang, a certified lecturer at Alibaba Taobao University, gives us a masterclass on the largest company in China today. What impresses Sally the most about Alibaba is its big data capabilities. “They know their customers, where their customers go, what they like, and what their habits are,” she states.</p><p>As a lecturer, Sally notes that a lot of new vendors do not know how to run their own e-commerce stores, with regards to legal, logistics, and supply chain know-how. At the same time, while Sally is a lecturer to many “students”, she learns just as much—if not more—from a number of them about running a business. Her students, in fact, include a number of CEOs.</p><p>Sally speaks on a variety of topics, including Alibaba’s winning edge with regards to their ability to retain competitive prices (Chinese consumers, after all, tend to opt for the lowest available prices). She also discusses Alibaba’s loyalty program, which she believes to be one of the key tools the company used to maximize its 11.11 sales.</p><p>Sally is then asked about the difference in tactics between how platforms drive traffic versus how the brands <em>using</em> the platform drive traffic. What stands out here is integrative marketing—or “Uni Marketing”, as Alibaba calls it. They reach their customers through a large variety of ways, from traditional to social media advertising.</p><p>The next major consumer group in China are those generations who have the freest time and are the most mobile-savvy. These are the later millennials and Gen-Z, who were born in the 1990s and the 2000s.</p><p>For the upcoming Chinese New Year (also called Spring Festival) in 2020, Sally forecasts an increase in wine sales—exceeding even those of 11.11. She encourages wine sellers to take advantage of this occasion, likening it to “cutting the grass” or <em>cashing in</em> after accumulating a large customer base over time.</p><p>Adaptation is the key to driving eCommerce results on Alibaba’s platforms. Western brands tend to have difficulties entering the Chinese market due to their preference for a lot of flexibility when the government imposes many restrictions on foreign companies. Sally observes that these companies usually refuse to change their ways until they “hit a rock”.</p><p>It helps tremendously to take advantage of Alibaba’s big data resources in order to create appropriate market strategies. Lecturers such as Sally advise on these very topics, for example by drawing parallels between the foreign company and their vertical competitors on the platform they are using.</p><p>If a foreign brand is looking to enter the Chinese market, Sally suggests finding a local partner to help with growing the business. This local partner knows the data, the customers, and industry trends.</p>
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Jordan Rosenberg | Unpacking China's Relationship With Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies
<p>Today on The Negotiation we speak with Jordan Rosenberg to discuss the world of bitcoin and cryptocurrency with regards to China.<br>Cryptocurrencies were created around 2007 in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis. They were noticed very early on in China, a country that had, in fact, been at the forefront of digital currency. China had already been specializing in server farms and hardware production, both of which are required to produce proof of work for Bitcoin.</p><p>Bitcoin mining is a very simple business. You have, essentially, four costs: 1) the gear; 2) the place to put the gear; 3) the people to run the gear; 4) electricity. Of these, the most important variable is the cost of electricity.</p><p>Speaking on the current state of Bitcoin mining in China, Jordan says that the country’s development plans always call for building in anticipation of demand. To that end, they “overbuilt their electrical capacity”. Those in charge of running these resources are tasked to distribute this electrical capacity. Much of it was plugged into Bitcoin mining, which happens to be extremely energy-intensive. Thus, whoever can provide the lowest electrical cost will dominate the industry. Additionally, all of the leading designers and foundries that actually create the mining hardware are Chinese as well.</p><p>According to Peter Thiel, “China loves Blockchain; but it hates Crypto.” Breaking this down, Jordan notes that Blockchain is basically just a distributed database that anybody can look at, and trust that the data they’re looking at is correct. Having technology that permanently stores data chronologically makes for a useful tool. However, China frowns upon the fact that Crypto operates separately from the banking system. In other words, they not only see the potential of the technology but its <em>disruptive </em>potential as well. Crypto, therefore, is heavily regulated and not treated particularly kindly. Blockchain, on the other hand, is openly supported by the government. It is currently used in China mainly for research purposes.</p><p>Technically, the Chinese do not need Blockchain as they already have end-to-end digital payments covering every aspect of their life. “Digital payments in China are the only payments in China,” states Jordan. Every single person in China has a smartphone. However, a national Cryptocurrency is currently in development, spurred on due to “the fractured nature of global banking”.</p><p>Jordan ends by saying that “Blockchain, much like the internet, can either be a force for great good or a force for great evil. It can greatly empower the vast majority of the people in the world who don’t have a bank account.”</p>
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Singles Day Recap with Hao Lin of Alibaba Cloud & Joseph Cooke of WPIC Marketing + Technologies
<p>We kicked off talking about what the opportunities for global brands in China at a high level. Joseph talks about the rise of the Internet citizen rate that has skyrocketed over the last dozen years, making it the largest commerce market in the world, as well as the amount of data that can be collected, yet still facing the struggles that the firewall presents. Hao complimented this point by saying that we haven’t even realized half of the potential that the China internet market presents. Hao then encouraged brands to have a China strategy independent of their global strategy as part of a successful entry process.</p><p><br></p><p>Joseph then spoke about the necessity of having a local ICP and a .cn web domain, saying “Once you have those, then now you’re in the game.” China internet monitors traffic and throttles foreign traffic at peak times prioritizing local traffic which can greatly impact your ability as a brand to be truly alive in the market at the times you really want to be. This last mile of existence in the China market can drastically impact performance. Hao spoke to this explaining that not only must you register your domain in China, you must do it through a Chinese registrar. </p><p><br></p><p>Hao then spoke to the different techs involved in China and the tremendous value of having all these ecosystem products all interacting with one user on their mobile phone. In China the government and companies know exactly who is behind all those actions because every mobile number must be registered to a real person (no “burner phones” like in the west for instance), so getting a 360 degree view of your customer is far more real and present in China. Joseph then speaks to the speed of tech in China and if you’re not measuring accurately what’s going on every day you’ll quickly be left behind, and this is especially hard if you’re not, as Joseph said earlier, “in the game” locally.</p><p><br></p><p>The last third of the podcast covers some of the early data that was coming out of the Singles Day shopping extravaganza. Joseph points out the lull tin the market the month ahead of Singles Day that usually happens wasn’t present this year and the trajectory was positive all the way through. Hao then spoke to some of the winning tactics vendors were using this year, using not just gamification but actual game-show-style interactions with their customers, something that has proven highly effective to capture and maintain the attention of buyers. Joseph then talks about the most purchased item categories and how basket and transaction sizes were all up across the board that wasn’t driven by deep discounts like in the past which is a very encouraging sign, and how there is now a major decentralization in web behaviour where customers are going further and wider than ever seeking intel and content and date from a multitude of sources to validate and verify before they make a purchase. Awareness and conviction is being triggered at different stages in the funnel.</p>
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Mathias Chaillou | China's Video Platforms, Risk Tolerance of Chinese Brands, and the Changing Agency Landscape in China
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Mathias Chaillou, Global Head of Strategic Operations at Zenith. He relates his decade-long traditional marketing and, eventually, eCommerce career in China. In the days when TV was the medium of choice in the advertising industry, everything was about the cost-per-rating point around roughly a thousand TV channels, along with continuous negotiations with around 26 provinces.</p><p>Some provinces were more traditionally-minded than others when it comes to marketing communications. Because of varying points-of-view within different regions, Mathias likes to think of the whole of China as a “continent”, and each province as a “country”.</p><p>Two factors accelerated China’s move to digital marketing. The first, according to Mathias, is Weibo, which is regarded as China’s Twitter. The second is Youku, which functions similarly to YouTube. A lot of money began to flow through social media and online TV at a much faster rate than in the West. In fact, alongside Youku, Baidu and Tencent (and their subsidiaries) together are much bigger than YouTube.</p><p>There is a lot of pitching involved, particularly with agencies, to obtain contracts. However, agency-client relationships tend to be much shorter than they are in the West (usually under two years). Turnaround times are also relatively quick (around three weeks in China as compared to three months in the West for the same project). The reason for this urgency is the fact that China had to catch up to the West in many ways when digital marketing rose to prominence. This level of <em>speed </em>is part of what defines the business culture in China today. In short, “Don’t look back; just move fast and move quickly,” says Mathias.</p><p>To succeed as a foreign company in China, you need to be ready to bring something to the market that sets you apart from the big local players. This could be a unique strategy or new technology. Without this “Unique Selling Proposition”, local brands <em>will </em>beat the average multinational on cost and cultural understanding. Aside from that—and just as importantly—you must build a very tight relationship with your local partners, which starts even before the first formal meeting begins. The company that understands and appreciates <em>nuance</em> will thrive.</p><p>Above all,<em> adaptation is key.</em></p>
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Todd Embley | Being An Expat Entrepreneur, Building Asia's First Tech Accelerator, and VC Investing in China
<p>In this episode I, Todd Embley the regular host, was put on the hot seat and interviewed by Joseph Cooke, CoFounder and President of WPIC Marketing + Technologies. We started the show discussing how I became involved with SOSV The Accelerator VC, Sean O’Sullivan, and my good buddy Cyril Ebersweiler, and how Chinaccelerator was born in a small North Eastern  city named Dalian, and how we made the tough decision to choose Shanghai over Beijing for it’s new home in order to grow and take it to the level it is at today.</p><p><br></p><p>Joseph then asked me to talk about our formula for sifting through thousands of applications to our accelerator program each year and what we were looking for, and then move to a more broad look at the ecosystem as a whole and how Chinese startups and founders differed from their counterparts in the West. We also touched on how amazing it was to work in digital in China between 2009 and 2016, and how WeChat was responsible for WhatsApp getting a $19 billion dollar acquisition price from Facebook which dovetailed nicely into a discussion about startup valuations in China.</p><p><br></p><p>We then talked about the talent pool in China and how much it grew over the years as parent’s started to feel more comfortable understanding that there was indeed a path to success for their children striking out on their own and that they wouldn’t turn into “starving artists”. We also discussed how startups in China were prone to manipulating the amounts that they raised in the media but were using it to remain not only competitive for talent but to also stay relevant in the most competitive market in the world for customer and media attention.</p><p><br></p><p>We ended the podcast talking about one of our best investments ever through Chinaccelerator, BitMEX, the factors that helped them become the massive success they are today, and why China was the right place at the right time for them to be so. </p>
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Leif Rogers and David Noel | Major Sports Brand Building in China, the Rise of Health and Fitness, and the NBA Tweet to Forget
<p>David and Leif discuss the business they have built helping sports brands enter China and Chinese corporate brands enter the US, the latter of which we dive into a bit more to learn more about how purely China-centric brands look at market entry into North America. We also discuss the different aspects of relationship building with their North American clients vs. their Chinese clients.</p><p><br></p><p>After asking Dave and Leif to talk about the secret sauce that makes Red Phoenix so successful, it segue’s perfectly into the next topic of why it’s so important to leverage the help of agencies or experts who know how to do business in China at a granular level who’ve experienced not just the geography but also the culture.</p><p><br></p><p>We then move onto the topic of sports in China and the opportunities that lie in that industry, beyond sports, in general, to include health and fitness in general. We discuss their 5 tiers to success in brand building for sports brands, which includes boots-on-the-ground initiatives like camps and grassroots development as well as government relations. We also discuss where the money is flowing in sports in China, where David cites a very deliberate effort from the top down in China’s culture that clearly understands how important sports can be to a country’s economy.</p><p><br></p><p>Near the end, we do bring up the now-famous tweet from a prominent NBA executive that got the NBA in hot water in China in order to discuss the importance of understanding cultural sensitivities when entering a new market especially when you don’t have a good grasp of its native language nor its history. Now more than ever it is important to understand what topics one should avoid and issues to let lie. </p>
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Milo Chao | Auto vs. Infant Milk Powder Industries, the Importance of CSR to Brand Building, and Investing in Customer Service for Chinese Consumers
<p>Milo has a long and distinguished career working with a long list of amazing brands he’s worked with under his belt, so we kicked off the show asking him to discuss the more difficult industries he’s had to work on in China and Milo pointed to the auto industry as the most difficult. He’s worked with Volkswagen, Nissan, Ford etc. and because the market is so competitive and advertising is so homogenous it’s difficult to try and convince them to be different. We then asked for the opposite, the surprisingly easy industry to make a mark in and be different, and he talked about the infant milk formula industry and some examples as to why.</p><p><br></p><p>We then move on to discussing some of the mistakes foreign brands make when entering China, first discussing the odd fact that many brands will forgo the strengths they had in other countries to try and become overly Chinese. He goes on to say that what really matters is about taking those strengths and figuring out how to make it relevant to the Chinese consumer and then to differentiate and be heard above the noise. He also talks about the importance of local leadership to be able to make decisions on the ground in real-time. Milo also covers how the competitive landscape has changed over the last 5 years, how important it is to learn the local platforms, and suggests that Chinese brands are doing a better job of ‘going guerilla’ in their marketing and that foreign brands need to “take the gloves off” and not be afraid to do what needs to be done to win.</p><p><br></p><p>We asked Milo to speak to whether the Chinese consumer is paying attention to a brand’s CSR activities or environmental impact along the loyalty-building path. His take is that they are starting to and studies are showing it is starting to impact a brand’s reputation but we’re not yet at the point of a consumer avoiding products that are tested on animals for example. We then move into the arena of authenticity and if it’s important for a brand, and Milo has an interesting take on the first step to answering that question being the definition of what authenticity actually means per industry. He mentions that the younger consumer has an increasingly adept BS radar system and desire to spoken to directly without beating around the bush or being too poetic.</p><p><br></p><p>We then moved on to a very deep discussion around customer service and how important is it for foreign brands not to overlook this important facet to the customer journey. Milo reminds us how openly conversational Chinese consumers are, how social they are and how often they will complain about bad product experiences, and the level of importance the Chinese put on word of mouth when making their decision on whether a brand is valuable or not.</p><p><br></p><p>Turning into the longest episode we’ve ever recorded, we discussed whether or not brands should consider and invest in revamping or re-learning their ‘KYC’ or ‘know your customer’ profile. Milo confirms our suspicions that yes you definitely should, and it’s not about throwing out what you already know about your customer but to develop empathy for your local customers without trying to fit them into a global model.</p>
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Rob Arthurs | China Import Regulations, Chinese Consumer Buying Cycles, and Using Free Trade Zones Effectively
<p>After diving into some of Rob’s background in China and learning about some of the products he’s moved into China, he discusses the regulatory environment around health products and how going an ecommerce route can help avoid rigorous registration and regularity requirements. We then ask Rob to talk about overcoming other struggles he’s faced outside of the regulatory environment (like fulfilling an order for 10 containers of pig feet for Chinese New Year) and why it’s important to be ready to back up your products’ claims before being asked to do so.</p><p><br></p><p>Rob then talks about the buying cycle in China, which he honestly admits is an anomaly could be based on any number of things that are hard to predict. He recommends paying attention to the local holidays in the country and taking clues from social media phenomena. When asked to talk about where brands typically go first, he points to the usual suspects of large metropolitan areas but suggests brands avoid the noise and expense of the typical cities like Shanghai or Guangzhou and look for smaller market entry points where it would be easier to penetrate. </p><p><br></p><p>Rob then talks about the value of leveraging one of the 18 free trade zones in China to take advantage of lower import taxes to keep costs down, and to research the different zones designed to benefit different industries and products. He also advises not to expect any of the free trade zones to act the same or have the same rules.</p><p><br></p><p>Rob has tremendous experience working with Chinese distributors and talks about what a brand can expect when dealing with distributors. He points to a tendency of Chinese distributors to try and lock down country-wide exclusivity, and advises that you approach each province as if they were an independent country, and to move through China province by province as most have the population of a European country. </p>
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Alex Duncan | Exploring the Social Media Landscape in China and the Importance of Quality Content
<p>We started off the show with Alex talking about what Kawo is (the Hootsuite of China), how social media enables brands to help customers make buying decisions, and why in China social media management agencies are so much more prevalent there than in the west. One of the more interesting facets behind the dependence on agencies is due to the lack of a social media management talent pool in China as it has been slow to develop as a course of study in post-secondary education.</p><p><br></p><p>I then ask Alex to give us a detailed map of the social media landscape in China, and he walks us through the likes of Weibo, WeChat, tiktok, and xiaolongxu (little red book). He also explains more about what these fantastic and light-weight “mini-program” are, how they are used and shared, and why companies should consider creating a “mini-program” instead of a native app.</p><p><br></p><p>We then moved on to discuss enterprise accounts on WeChat. One of the more interesting points made by Alex in this section was to point out that WeChat has made a concerted effort over the years to put its users first, both in UI/UX design and in data protection, forcing companies to have to work hard to gain their attention. Companies cannot insert their content into a user's news feed, only the user can share it there, and the company can only know that it was shared but cannot collect data or information from it.</p><p><br></p><p>Our last section of conversation was dedicated to the trends in social media usage for brands looking towards 2020. Alex says brands are going to have to raise their game and really focus on the quality of their content as there is more and more noise being made and it is becoming harder to be heard above it.</p>
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Elliott Zaagman | Trends from US Listed Chinese Companies and Building Partnerships in China
<p>The show kicked off with a quick background on how Elliott came to be in China and why he’s now splitting time between Beijing and Bangkok. Drawing on insights gained from his own podcast The China Tech Investor we then talk about some of the trends he’s seeing in China and how some of them can be attributed to the economic slowdown China has been experiencing, as well as a shift to enterprise as one of the few remaining low-hanging fruits a company can go after.</p><p><br></p><p>We then talk about why so many Chinese companies list on US stock exchanges and why they are still the preferred choice for companies to go IPO and the sandbox for investors to play in. I ask Elliott to name an area that he would still be confident in investing into and he explains why health care would be his number one choice (hint: it has something to do with the fact that no macro events can impact aging).</p><p><br></p><p>We also spent a bit of time discussing what the similarities and differences are between Chinese and Western companies, and which industries differ more than others in a comparison (hint 2: it’s not as much as you’d think), before delving into what foreign brands can do to reduce friction and enhance opportunities to partner with Chinese companies.</p>
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Stephen Drummond | China Market Complexities That Drive Brands to Reboot Timeless Creative Strategies
<p>We started off our show with Stephen with an interesting discussion about working in China and adapting to the internet environment there which, as many of you know, can be difficult and slow at times. As Stephen points out, however, the number of digital platforms and services to make your life easier typically far outweigh and disadvantages from a more monitored and thus slow internet environment.</p><p><br></p><p>Stephen then talks about his work at Campaign Coach China where he trains CEOs and CMOs on how to build brand and creative strategies. He points to the complexity in the market these days that is driving a need for a reboot of the timeless strategic planning tools and concepts in order to move past using the “borrowed interest” of celebrities and other influencers.</p><p><br></p><p>We then discuss the tremendous ‘closing of the cache gap’ between foreign and local Chinese brands (except at the very top). Foreign brands shouldn’t rely on a lift by being foreign because in most product verticals the playing field has leveled. </p><p><br></p><p>We end the show talking about what the next 5 years might hold for brands and Stephen’s take is that the struggle ahead will be brand building in the eCommerce age. It’s crowded, and the opportunities to show customers the ‘face’ of the brand are few and far between. That was one of the luxuries of offline and retail; you were able to really show off your personality and give an experience, but that is rapidly fading away.</p>
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Charles Lavoie | Vodka, Hockey, and Blending History With Pop Culture to Build a Brand Identity in China
<p>We start off talking about Charles’ favorite Chinese company, Nongfu, a bottled-water producer who has, in Charles’ opinion as a branding expert himself, accomplished some incredible branding traction to the point of being able to charge in the neighborhood of $40 USD for a bottle of water. Not only is their marketing creative, but also their packaging, down to their unique bottle design. I then ask Charles to talk about the importance of being unique as a success factor in China.</p><p><br></p><p>Charles then takes us through his fun “How I ended up in China” story which entails studying finance in Beijing which then led to starting up an Italian Vodka company, and how its success was predicated on being able to build the brand and sell the story. Charle’s then points to the limits of the industry as one of the difficulties in scaling his business, eventually coming to the conclusion that their company could not be the one that could lead the expansion of the Vodka market in China necessary to take his company to the next level. All this led Charles into his current arena and love of brand building in China.</p><p><br></p><p>We then talk about Charles’ efforts to help popularize the sport of hockey in China which leads to a broader discussion around how big companies and brands can typically miss the mark when brand-building in China. He talks about his experience with large Western brands that bring an arrogance, although well-deserved in some cases, towards replicating the marketing that has been successful in the West that should easily and as effectively be deployed through Asia. </p><p><br></p><p>Charles also gives some great advice around blending history with pop culture or current events and fads. He suggests doing your homework around the long and deep cultural beliefs that are rooted in all Chinese citizens and trying to navigate that while weaving in what popular in today’s local society.</p>
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André-Philippe Chenail | The Multi-Sentimented Business Landscape in China and Their Leap Forward in Sophistication
<p>We start out this podcast asking AP about his transition through the CCBC organization and why they’ve needed to scale so rapidly lately in both services and locations in China and across Canada. He describes some of the events they’ve drawn up and pulled off as some of their biggest accomplishments and why they are so important to their members to gain further footing in China.</p><p><br></p><p>AP then speaks about the reciprocal sentiments that Canadian and Chinese companies have towards each other and why despite seemingly cool at times it’s more a product of the political sentiment more than it is the business temperature which still remains very warm.  He delivers a great example of this through the story of how a leading manufacturer of electric motors in Canada had to wait 18 months for orders to start coming in again during China’s change in leadership back in 2013. </p><p><br></p><p>AP also talks about the one word that describes China’s recent jump forward, describing it as a leap in sophistication. And not just in transactional sophistication but also consumer behaviour sophistication in how they research and make buying decisions, not just relying on influencer marketing. </p><p><br></p><p>We wrapped up the podcast by discussion some predictions on what the future trends are for China, including the Made In China 2025 and the rise in China-made electrical components that will strengthen their positioning in such areas as supply chain as well as the way software will be written that we’ll all need to know and understand.</p><p><br></p><p>And as we always do with each guest, Andre-Phillipe gives his number one piece of advice for foreign brands moving into the Chinese market.</p>
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Jacob Cooke | Singles Day, November 11th, the Largest Shopping Day of the Year
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Jacob Cooke, co-founder of WPIC Marketing and Technologies. Jacob gives some expert advice for companies who are preparing for China’s Singles Day, also known as 11.11. Singles Day began several years ago as a marketing ploy from Alibaba Group who planned to make a purely commercial shopping holiday for the widest possible demographic, with an emphasis on big-ticket deals. 11.11 has since taken off and demonstrates a growth average of 30-40% year after year. For brands seeking a new growth strategy, it is imperative to prepare well for this popular shopping holiday.</p><p>Jacob goes into how companies can qualify for Singles Day. Needless to say, these brands have to have a proven track record of being able to deliver efficiently. Internal decisions should begin as early as August. Aspiring qualifiers should discuss which products to sell, discount strategies, and projections based on how much inventory to have by a set date. Companies must submit their proposal by the end of August and lock their stock so that other platforms will not be able to distribute their selected products. The final step is to conduct a presale that will last until 11.11 itself.</p><p><br>Jacob also recommends new brands to specifically emphasize discounts in their first couple of years around Singles Day for the sole purpose of getting as much exposure as possible. In the succeeding years, they should gradually return to standard pricing, which may result in fewer sales but, at the same time, higher margins.</p><p><br>The e-commerce landscape in China today has changed—and continues to change—the retail (and even wholesale) game. Listen in as Jacob lays out his best practices that any scaling company, whether already in China or seeking to enter the market, should apply to take full advantage of Singles Day.</p>
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Michael Zakkour | Explaining "New Retail" and Cultural Dexterity in the Chinese Market
<p>Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Michael Zakkour, Vice President of Asia and Digital International for Tompkins International, a global consulting firm focused on digital commerce, retail, and consumer products, and also the author of "New Retail: Born in China, Going Global.” Today we discuss why it's so important to deeply understand China's culture, history, philosophy, and language especially with regards to your target market and what new retail is, and why China is leading the global charge.</p><p>Michael was a part of the Web 1.0 movement in the mid-90s. After the dot com bubble burst in 2000, he flew to China and became the first foreigner to work for particular a Chinese leather garment manufacturing company. The culture shock he experienced during his time as an employee in the Middle Kingdom led to his foundational belief that “in China, anything is possible but nothing is easy”. And that overcoming challenges of any sort as a foreigner requires adaptation or, in Michael’s words, “cultural dexterity”.</p><p>Four core pillars make up what Michael believes is the key to business success in China: culture, philosophy, language, and history. He says that by understanding the cultural context of the individual and collective Chinese consumer through these four factors, you may achieve a predictable brand or corporate success.</p><p>Michael proposes additional need-to-knows when it comes to maximizing your brand and corporate identity in China. From the “6 Ds” of understanding your consumer to the difference between e-commerce, digital commerce, and New Retail, our guest unleashes a masterclass into thriving as an entrepreneur in the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of Chinese commerce.</p>
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Phillip Beck | Look-a-Like Data, Managing Bad PR, and Capability Mapping
<p>Philip discusses the value of gathering data to create lookalike audiences in order to predict consumer interests and buying habits, and in the process eliminate wasteful manufacturing costs. He gives the example of the American bag brand coach, which at one time collected data from WeChat users in order to see what consumers liked and shared with friends. With that knowledge, Coach was able to build individual profiles from all of their followers, which were then consolidated and provided actionable insights for the company. This lookalike audience strategy is being used by more than 65% of Chinese brands today, and their targeting technologies continue to evolve by the day.</p><p>            <br>While acknowledging that this practice of collecting consumer data is generally frowned upon in North America, then says that the Chinese market, by comparison, cares little about it. He uses this as a segway to explain that many foreign companies make the mistake of imposing their cultural norms onto whatever market they establish themselves in. Doing this is counterproductive, and makes the adoption of the foreign brand less likely. Even well-known brands are not immune to making mistakes. In fact, among the worst offenders were Versace, Dolce &amp; Gabbana, and Proctor &amp; Gamble, who all at one point made inaccurate and/or offensive statements about China in their promotional material. The Chinese market, according to Philip, will not hesitate to viciously criticize a brand, and many have already been pulled out of the market due to bad decision-making.</p><p>            <br>Developing trends in the Chinese market include the online ad spend and e-commerce, the latter of which is slowly taking over as the country’s primary marketing channel. Philip notes that in China, the speed of doing business is seven times quicker than in the West. Being agile and nimble is the key to growth today. Combine that with consistent social listening (in order to create lookalike audiences) to make sure your business stays on the cutting edge.</p>
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Jacob and Joseph Cooke | Big Data in China and Branding Through Experience not Presence
<p>Jacob and Joseph talk us through the beginnings of WPIC and how operations are handled between their original office in Vancouver and their current head office in Beijing. They discuss how company branding changes as the dynamic between the target market and the business itself evolves. In this case, WPIC started out as an SEO service by the Cooke brothers and evolved to become a full-service technology and marketing organization.</p><p><br>Brands are looking to China to “move the growth needle”, according to Joseph. More companies today seek partnership opportunities that allow for more direct sales of products and services in order to preserve as much margin as possible. Considering how large the Chinese market is, there is still a lot of untapped opportunity in the country.</p><p><br>The Cooke brothers also address fears of Chinese companies “copying” or creating “fakes” of a company’s products. Joseph says that, while this issue dissuades many from entering the Chinese market, “some people look at it as a compliment and an indicator that there's clearly demand [if it’s] worth doing the faking.” He says the solution can be broken down into two steps: creating visibility and taking action. With WPIC’s data-gathering software, Discripto, for example, Jacob and Joseph can pinpoint every single case of copyright infringement and, from there, take the necessary steps to get rid of blatant duplication and fakers.</p>
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Amanda Liu | Data, Analytics, and China's Social Media Landscape
<p>For Amanda, who is involved in the client support side, gaining a deeper understanding of their experiences and identifying potential needs for their product is of the utmost importance.  Amanda also generates web analytics reports based on the client's website data that the company has collected. </p><p> </p><p>Amanda talks about the changes in traffic and customer acquisition strategies in recent years, including marketing campaigns. Almost all B2C companies as well as some B2B companies, even in traditional industries, have been expanding and diversifying channels in an effort to broaden their marketing reach using social media campaigns and social media marketing.<br> </p><p>Amanda also speaks about how a lot of companies have built their own accounts on the popular Chinese social medias. Given the diversification of internet services, the ranking of social media giants in China has changed dramatically. Users moved on to newer platforms such as QQ, Weibo and WeChat in recent years, with the most up-and-coming of them being ByteDance. She goes on to say that people spend less time on search engines because people don't need to search anymore with the invention of machine learning.</p><p> </p><p>She then talks about companies in China having a unique relationship with customers and that brand loyalty is key. Building brand loyalty is hard and takes a tremendous amount of time and resources, but once built it is set in stone and hard to lose. </p><p> </p><p>Amanda describes data-driven marketing and operations as the key to success in today's world, and not just in China. Omnichannel aggregation data is integrating into our websites, converting to massive insights. It’s the key to knowing our customers, knowing what they want and how to give it to them and on which platform and at what price. She also mentions that this data and insight is also what drives marketing decisions and direction.<br> </p><p>Finally, Amanda talks about how marketing and operations will go beyond digital, and how more advanced technology, including AI, VR, et cetera, will benefit people working in the industry in the very near future, with the widespread move to 5G playing a large role in that. She believes that we will enter the age of IoT, the internet of things. And IoE, internet of everything. And even AI IoT, combining AI technologies with IoT.</p>
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David Sullivan | Winning and Losing in China
<p>In this, our first-ever episode, we talk with David Sullivan, Managing Partner at Deo Navillus Global Solutions, about winning and losing in China, and what every brand needs to take care of on the home front before they make the leap into the digital Middle Kingdom. </p><p><br>For a Westerner looking to have their product or service embraced in a foreign market such as China, a long period of branding is the first step. For David, it took a big investment in warehousing, sales and marketing staff, social media experts, engaging PR companies and celebrity influencers, and, most importantly, having local employees on board who know how to work the local market.</p><p><br>Another consideration is knowing whether to be directly involved in operations in China or to serve a more advisory role, as David did. This choice should take into account who has representation rights and their level of understanding of how to nurture a connection between the brand and the consumer.</p><p><br>David also speaks on the rise (and continuing rapid evolution) of e-commerce, or online retail, and making sure you have owners and investors who understand this relatively young economic landscape, because certain investments have to be taken that will not see an ROI for some time. For a Western business to enter the Chinese market, a large amount of trust and openness is required to make the business relationship, and of course, the business itself, work.</p><p><br>The topic of registering your trademarks and patents is also brought up as a sometimes-overlooked step for Western businesses entering China. Considering the “trade war” between the current U.S. and Chinese administrations, not securing your IP from the very beginning will create a lot of (expensive) challenges down the road.</p><p><br>Finally, David relates his experiences in making personal transactions in China, and his subsequent thoughts on how Alipay-type payment technologies are leading the way in the online retail space.</p>
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The Negotiation With Todd Embley
<p>The host of The Negotiation, Todd Embley, breaks down what the show is all about and what you can expect to learn in this intriguing new podcast series brought to you by WPIC Marketing &amp; Technologies.</p>
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