Culture significantly impacts how the Chinese run their businesses, negotiate agreements, and communicate with foreigners. Understanding the reasoning behind Chinese thinking is key to building a flourishing brand and attracting investors there. This is often best achieved by partnering with someone intimately familiar with doing business in the country already.
Chinese investors are extremely strategic in their approach, so US companies need to be prepared to clearly demonstrate how their product or service will thrive in the Chinese marketplace or fulfill an underserved niche.
On the consumer side, brand names are incredibly important in China, and people are generally willing to pay more for luxury brands. Higher prices aren’t an issue, provided consumers perceive they’ve received a quality product at a good value. A significant mistrust of local products exists as well—especially for food and health-related items. This unease surrounding local brands has created additional opportunities for the western companies expanding into China’s market.
For all of these reasons and more, it’s important for US companies to understand how cultural differences could impact their marketing efforts to gain market share in the China.
In evaluating new deals, Chinese investors must work within a tax structure and regulations that vastly differ from those found in the United States. Continually shifting regulatory barriers can also affect Chinese investors’ ability to access their capital.
For example, in 2016, the Chinese government imposed foreign exchange controls in an effort to tighten the capital market, which in turn affected all transactions involving currency outflows. The increased difficulty of transferring funds out of China deterred many investors; however, it’s expected that these restrictions will be loosened in late 2018. Being proactive and paying due diligence to prestructural planning is vital for US companies for this reason.
It’s important for US companies with significant R&D activities to plan on protecting their intellectual property (IP) and patents when entering China’s market, which is known for copying technologies and innovations that were developed abroad. Even though the Chinese government has increased its effort to protect IP, US companies should still assess the risks and set up a sufficient legal structure to shield their IP before entering China’s market.
Whether your organization is already doing business in China, looking to expand there, or seeking a bridge to China capital investment, locating a US partner who has extensive experience in the country’s culture, business practices, and government regulations is an important first step in expanding any business there.
In addition to using your own local chamber of commerce, consulting firms that have a working knowledge of China and a proven track record can assist your company by connecting it to the appropriate Chinese investors and helping you navigate the entire foreign investment process.
Annie Norviel has practiced public accounting since 2008 and is fluent in Mandarin. As part of the China Practice at Moss Adams, she provides assurance services to public and private clients in the technology, life sciences, and healthcare industries. She can be reached at (858) 627-1484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.