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July 26, 2013
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Growth Of Chinese Population In The U.S.
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Companies Targeting the Chinese Market

Last updated on May 17th, 2021 at 02:34 pm

Global Marketing: Reaching the Chinese Market

As markets become more global, familiarity with corporate cultures worldwide become an important key to success.  Adaptation to traditions and behaviors of a culture are as relevant as understanding the language.  The adaptation to traditions and values is very important to take into consideration when doing Chinese translations and is one of the crucial elements that a professional Chinese translator needs to perfect while localizing the content to the values of the culture.

Building Positive Relationships with the Chinese Market

Chinese culture is based on the teachings of Confucianism, which emphasizes preservation of harmony and the collective good.  Positive relationships are an important foundation in Chinese culture.  When engaging in business dealings in China, showing that you are trustworthy and a good listener will help guide you on your way to establishing positive relationships with your Chinese counterparts. For example, when you translate your website into Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese there are some elements that you should include to appeal to that need of trust, such as certifications and recognized memberships of your company. This also includes any award received by your products. Another significant element to include is the company’s overview and the company’s board or leadership to appeal to that relevance of hierarchy. 

Proper Business Etiquette

The following is a list of main etiquette that should be observed while conducting business in China and preparing written content or translating content to target the Chinese Market.

Eye contact:  Always maintain eye contact with your Chinese counterparts while  communicating. Lack of eye contact will be considered as untrustworthy.

Positive speech: Using negative phrases such as “no” or “cannot”- are considered impolite.  Phrase your replies positively by using phrases such as “I will think about it” and “maybe” even in times when you are absolutely certain that a request cannot be fulfilled.

Greetings: Always wait for your Chinese counterpart to initiate a greeting. Address them as Mr/Ms/Mrs using their business title and their last name. Greet them with a gentle handshake.

Rank & Hierarchy: Ranks and positions are important to the Chinese.  They consider high status as a sign of great accomplishment, experience and wisdom.  Always show respect for your Chinese counterparts who are of such status, by showing appreciation and acknowledgement of their opinions.

Colors:  Avoid wearing bright colors as they are offensive and inappropriate in a Chinese business environment.  Never wear white articles of clothing to a meeting- the color white is for funerals. This element is important in the selection of images and colors for a new or localized website.

Dress Code: For both males and females- a conservative, formal dress code is required. All pieces of clothing are to be dark, subdued colors including black, brown, and tan.  Skirts below the knee, and flat or small heeled shoes are appropriate forms of dress for women.  Avoid wearing revealing articles of clothing, shoes and flashy jewelry.  This is another element to consider for images in Chinese brochures and websites.

Be On Time:  Punctuality is important in conducting business in China. Don’t be late!

To Learn is to Build Loyalty

Many Western companies are starting efforts to participate in and benefit from China’s growth and expanding middle class. There are many more companies looking to participate. The following companies are already taking part: McDonald’s, Home Depot and Procter and Gamble among other recognized brands.  There is no easy answer for how to be successful in a country so highly populated, diverse, with close ties to ancient history. Nonetheless, it is valuable to learn about China’s culture and social etiquette. Acknowledging the cultural differences will aid in your understanding of Chinese culture and language, which will ultimately increase your chances of success. In the process you will earn your Chinese clients and business counterparts’ loyalty that will lead you to successful business.

Flora Yu
Flora Yu
Flora was born and raised in New York to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She has a degree in Accounting. She is fluent in Mandarin, and contributes a unique perspective as someone who was raised in 2 different cultures. She finds humor and opportunities to learn as she constantly searches for the balance between the East and West.