Fashionable China

Inspired by the HK Fashion Week project we are working on in Finland – Hong Kong Trade Association I wrote an article about China and fashion. Unfortunately the article is in Finnish, but I guess most of my readers are also Finns. 🙂 We invite the Finnish designers to take part to this unique Fashion Week held in January 2015. High quality, modern knowhow and stylish luxury are our main messages at the expo.  More info at the end of the article that you may read at:

http://www.hamechamber.fi/fi/kv-toiminta/kv-uutiset/?itemid=2061&a=viewItem#

A must event for Finnish design & fashion companies aiming at HK/China/Asian markets

A must event for Finnish design & fashion companies aiming at HK/China/Asian markets

Finland – Hong Kong Trade Association in collaboration with Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) organizes an event about luxury markets in Hong Kong and Mainland China. In addition to inspiring case stories,  Hong Kong Fashion Week will be introduced to the participants. Companies will be encouraged to take part in the Asian largest fashion event with us in 19-22 January 2015. Please, come and join. I’ll be there! 😉

Hong Kong as a Gateway to Asia

I have happily been a board member of Finland – Hong Kong Trade Association for a couple of years now. Though my expertise is purely concentrated on Mainland China, I cannot avoid the benefits of Hong Kong when entering the Chinese – or wider Asian – markets. Few of the key factors that speaks for Hong Kong:

1. Hong Kong is very centrally located in Asia. It has 4 hour access to all leading markets to Asia and 5 hours from half the world’s population. Transport connections are very good.

2. Hong Kong has low and simple tax system. They have 3 direct taxes (profits, salaries & property) and they also provide deductions.

3. For international company it is relatively easy to operate in Hong Kong as the system is very transparent and efficient.

4. People in Hong Kong are highly educated and skilled.

5. For expats Hong Kong provides safe and inspiring environment to live with lots of activities, sceneries and delicious food.

Some companies seem to prefer to have a holding company in Hong Kong. Costs for setting up a company in Hong Kong are much lower than in Mainland China. Yet, the procedures are much simplier and transparent. However, Mainland Chinese customers may expect the company presence in Mainland China. This is a valid point. Therefore the company must build their entry strategy to Asian market by deciding what they want to achieve there.

Hey, and Mainland China is also very interesting, amusing and beautiful country to live in! 😉

More information on Hong Kong and Finland-Hong Kong Trade Association in:

www.finhk.fi

http://www.hktdc.com/

www.investhk.gov.hk

Web attraction – seducing the Chinese consumers in the internet

China now has over 591 million internet users, which is 125 times more than in Finland (ca. 4.7 million)… 460 million of them are mobile internet users. China is now also competing for the first prize of being the world’s largest ecommerce market.

Chinese people spend more than 20 hours per week in the internet, which is like the total working time of half-time worker per week. There are more users in e.g. instant messaging, blogging, gaming and social networks than email users. I have also noticed that if I want a quick response from China I need to use other tools than email. More than 80 % of the internet users are under 40 years old. And; majority of the internet users browse information from the web before they go for shopping – price, quality and feedback counts.

The most popular websites in China include such names as Baidu, QQ, Weibo, Taobao, Kaixin001, Youku etc. etc. They are search engines, instant messaging platforms, social networks and ecommerce platforms. What about a sole company; how do they attract more visitors and interest in their offering?

I understand that in order to be attractive in the Chinese web your company must have the following:

  1. localized web content
  2. search engine optimized website
  3. internet marketing
  4. active social media accounts
  5. pictures, videos, stories
  6. campaigns
  7. Anything else interesting?

Which companies, both Chinese and foreign, do YOU think have succeeded in gaining positive attraction from Chinese consumers in the internet? Why; what do they do well?

Accelerate your sales in China; few thoughts

Close to 1.36 billion people. The second largest economy. The biggest trading nation. No wonder companies are aiming to gain presence and growth in the market full of opportunities. The competition is severe and many companies fail to succeed. I have listed few considerations that we often forget to think when planning an entry into the China’s competition ground.

  • Do your clients understand what they are buying? The economic growth has developed in a relatively short period of time. Chinese market has not always had all the products, services & solutions that it has nowadays. The buyers may not be familiar with all the features that your offering provides, yet what value-added the offering brings to their lives or operations. You may take a leap over your competitors by teaching your clients to buy Your products; what good does Your product bring to your client, why Your product is better than the other existing solutions in the market, how Your product operates and what the results are when using Your product. Invest in training, bulletin, marketing, workshops, seminars etc. in order to improve the awareness of Your products.
  • What are the influencers on your client’s purchase decision? It’s all about price; or is it? Maybe the reason is gaining “face” or personal advantage. Maybe the decision makers owns a favor to someone in his/her “guanxi” network. The seller needs to make his homework and learn who the decision makers really are, what they value and who they are “friends” with.
  • How do You visualize the good and benefits the client gains when acquiring your product? How can You appeal to your client’s feelings? Yes, your technology, solution or service may be world class but You need to create that image by visualization and story-telling. The technology experts step in after you have sold the idea that your product is “must-have”.
  • Is Your product suitable for the Chinese market as it is? The taste, beliefs and values are different than in Western market. Yet, the existing technologies in China may not support your solutions. You might even consider of finding co-operation partners to provide a larger entirety with compatible products in order to ensure your client gets well-functioning wholeness.
  • How is Your company perceived in China? Chinese are active internet users and information on companies is widely spread and available. You must invest in internet visibility, take good care of your employees and clients, obey the local rules as well as show respect to the challenging, yet so potential market.

The list is not complete but I hope it inspires the companies take their sales actions a little deeper. I bet there are other experts of China, Asia, sales, marketing etc. that can easily continue the list and I am definitely willing to hear others’ ideas. 🙂

China’s next top travel destination – Finland!

We have had active discussions among our Finland China Business Club (FCBC) members about the opportunities of increasing Chinese tourism to Finland and the challenges Finland is facing as a potential travel destination. As I am a lazy writer I first list shortly few facts about the Chinese tourism, then I summarize the discussions we’ve had in FCBC and last challenge all the readers to share their ideas on how to attract more and more Chinese tourists to our beautiful country of thousands of lakes.

Few facts:

  1. In 2011 Chinese made ca. 70 million overseas trips. It is estimated to reach 100 million by 2020.  15 years ago the number was only 5 million.
  2. Altogether 74.000 Chinese visited Finland in 2011.
  3. Chinese spent the largest sum of money per visit compared to other foreign visitors in Finland. The sum was 670 € on average.
  4. Overall Chinese tourists spend around 1.000 $ (770 €) per visit abroad. However, some individuals may spend as much as 100.000 ¥ (~12.000 €) only for shopping.
  5. Average spending of Chinese is less than that of Western travelers. However, due to increasing number of Chinese travelers the total is high – leaving the Germans and Americans behind.
  6. Asia, Australia and Europe are the top destinations – in Europe, UK , Germany and France are the most favored destinations.
  7. Today’s Chinese travelers are looking for comfort, activities and shopping opportunities whilst enjoying scenery and different cultures.

The problem with Finland has been and still seems to be that it is the Finns that do all the thinking for attracting Chinese visitors – though it should be the Chinese themselves. The Chinese that have visited or even lived in Finland know the attraction of Finland the best. Let’s summarize what thoughts and ideas we’ve shared with FCBC members that learnt from our Chinese members.

  • Finland itself is not a brand and the country is still relatively unknown – a little mysterious even – in China.
  • Chinese do not know what to see and experience in Finland. For example, they go to ski to Switzerland because they know they can ski there.
  • Chinese do not know what to buy in Finland. Shopping opportunities are one of the key attractions.
  • Some Chinese travelers are also interested in investment opportunities.
  • How is Finland different from other European countries? – Finland should offer something special to its visitors. Some ideas e.g. berry and mushroom picking, experiencing traditional Finnish summer cottage, swimming in a lake, hiking in clean nature etc.
  • High level of education, advanced society, developed hi-tech sector and Santa Claus support the brand building of Finland as clean & fresh, modern, yet memorable travel destination.

And then finally the challenge! What could be done in order to attract Chinese travelers to Finland?

Some thoughts and ideas:

  • Utilization of the Chinese social media.  More than 300 million Chinese use it.-Could we jointly make a marketing buzz for Finland? Maybe challenge students to create short videos about our country sponsored by travel companies and service providers? Videos could be published in youku.com or suchlike site.
  • Chinese love stories and sharing their experience. How could be boost the story telling and experience sharing in order to make Finland more attractive, interesting and exciting?
  • We should engage more Chinese in the improvement of Finland brand in China. Chinese students provide excellent pool of talents for insightful development of tourism activities and promotion. I challenge the students provide their insights and ideas to companies in forms on school assignments and thesises.
  • Radical actions should be taken in order to draw people’s attention and interest in vivid China. An FCBC member suggested we could follow the example of “Radical Design Week” held in Shanghai and create a concept of “Radical Tourism Week” and take it to different cities in China. For that we need someone to take the initiative and gather the radical ideas into one feasible concept. Who is it going to be? Volunteers?

These are just few ideas from a common woman inspired by resourceful FCBC members. Please, feel free to comment and add your ideas. Let’s take the “Brand Finland” to China and warmly welcome Chinese visitors to Finland that they eagerly want to see and experience!

Sources: Finnish Tourist Board (2012) www.mek.fi & The Guardian (2012) “Chinese to become biggest spenders as record numbers head overseas” www.guardian.co.uk

Picture: Helsinki South Harbour – taking the travelers across the Baltic Sea (www.portofhelsinki.fi)

Growth opportunities in China and Asia – join the September seminars in Finland

I am happy because the importance of Asia (and certainly China) has been recognised as a driver and huge opportunity for growth. It makes me especially happy that cities outside of Helsinki has shown increasing interest in the opportunities in these diverse, yet so excitingly challenging markets. Though we are such a tiny little country compared to Asian tigers, we do have something to give and share with them.

Please, find a list of seminars held in Turku, Mikkeli and Karjalohja during September. The seminars will focus on current opportunities, trends and business culture in few selected market areas. I will be sharing my own experience and expertise regarding to China.

Thu 20.9.2012 Kasvua Aasiasta -seminar in Turku

The seminar focus on the opportunities of Finnish companies in China and Philippines. Also the specifics of the market areas and business culture will be share by the market experts.

More info: http://www.wtc-turku.fi/cms/index.php?view=details&id=83%3Akasvua-aasiasta&option=com_eventlist&Itemid=8&lang=fi

Tue 25.9.2012 Kansainvälisty! Vauhtia kasvuun Aasiasta -seminar in Mikkeli

The seminar focus on few different, yet interesting market areas incl. China, Philippines, Japan and Vietnam. Asia experts share their view on the opportunities and the currents trends in the selected markets.

More info: http://www.ely-keskus.fi/fi/ELYkeskukset/EtelaSavonELY/Ajankohtaista/tapahtumat/Documents/Vuoden%202012%20tilaisuudet/Aasia250912.pdf

Thu 27.9.2012 Targeting China – a phenomenal market place -workshop in Karjalohja

China is a rapidly growing market of which expanding middle class is willing to spend – also in Western brands.The workshop concentrates on the increasing opportunities in the Chinese consumer market. Experienced professionals share their knowledge, expertise and views on the intriguing market.

More info: http://www.fortunefalls.fi/Tahtaimessa%20Kiina.pdf

Welcome to listen, learn and share your own experience and views on these exciting markets!