Telling and retelling stories is one of humanity’s most durable characteristics: Harvard linguist Michael Witzel has argued that most of the world’s mythologies grew out of a single set of stories first told in Africa 130,000 years ago. Yet what is the future of corporate storytelling? Although our penchant for storytelling may not change any time soon, the storytelling used inside the corporation does seem to be shifting in two ways. First, storytelling is becoming recognized as a trainable skill. Second, and possibly more importantly, the Internet is making it increasingly difficult for companies to control a single version of their own story.
Storytelling is a reliable way to reach audiences. According to storytelling experts, organizing stories in a form that connects to people’s feeling is an effective way to make information more memorable. But for sales people, telling their sales stories well is more challenging than for CEOs telling a company story—a sales person’s time is limited as the audience is under no obligation to listen to them for a long time; and they need to learn to tell the story throughout the entire sales process, from introducing themselves to managing customer relationships, and the focus of these stories will also vary by culture.
Theme parks are normally a place to enjoy a nice day out with your friends or family. However, in mainland China, theme parks may soon turn into a battleground. Wanda Group, a conglomerate that has opened several amusement parks across China over the last few years, has warned Disney about its theme park operations in China. It’s certainly not easy, if possible at all, for Wanda to make Disney unprofitable. Will lowering price at the cost of lowering its own profit help, or improve the quality and service is more practical? Maybe the best solution is to get along with the competitor.
It is a good time to reflect on Singles Day, a shopping carnival initiated by Alibaba that has just yielded a record-breaking sales of $17.8 billion, exceeding that on “Black Friday” in the US. It looks like everyone benefits: vendors sell, buyers get cheap goods and Alibaba profits through advertising fees and transaction commissions. But consider: to sell more, vendors lower product prices and sacrifice per-unit margins, yet they might not be able to make up on volume, as most of the items purchased are durable goods and therefore most of the increased sales on Singles Day are probably shifting sales from earlier or later periods.
In the past two decades, coffee has been making significant in-roads in China. Although it might not be a staple for workday breakfast yet, for young people in urban areas, it has become a status symbol and something that says about their style and taste. Coffee, says Esteban Liang, Managing Director of Costa, Asia, is an “affordable luxury.” In the interview with Liang, he discusses how coffee became so popular and what Costa Coffee has experienced in the Middle Kingdom so far. Attempting to ride the middle-class wave, Costa aims at becoming a “strong number two” in China with better environment, product and service.
China’s apparel market is now one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Euromonitor statistics show many foreign brands doing well: Uniqlo currently holds 1.6% of the market for specialist apparel; and Danish company Bestseller Fashion Group China, which operates brands like Only, Jack & Jones and Vero Moda, is holding 2.3% of the market share. Where are the local apparel brands? VANCL, a Chinese ecommerce clothes retailer, is almost a forgotten name. It used to have a 4.5% market share in 2011, but its dream of IPO lie in ashes—how did the once mighty retailer become China’s diaosi (loser) brand?
In today’s busy workplaces people have bigger departments, more turnover, and operate in an environment of continuous change, which means that management has less time to get to know you and your capabilities. If you want to get ahead, coaches and other talent management experts say, you can’t wait for your boss to nurture you. Instead, you need to invest more time both developing your own capabilities and making sure decision-makers appreciate your talents and see your potential. How do you build your career and ensure you get the chances you deserve?
These days, corporate value is based not only on what you sell, but who you are: in a 2016 global study by Edelman, 48% of consumers said they won’t buy from a company they distrust but 37% said they will pay more for a product from a company they do trust. Unfortunately, becoming one of these admired companies is not easy. A great reputation doesn’t just appear by magic simply by behaving honorably and doing good work. So what facets are needed to build a respected corporate identity?
Between rapid technological change and global competition, it’s becoming harder for anyone selling a product or service to maintain a competitive edge–especially when that product is more or less the same as everyone else’s. But companies with products caught in this trap have more options than they realize. Even if you can’t win by being the cheapest or the best, you don’t need to simply resign yourself to commodity status. Creating a consumer brand for the industrial commodity, branding the product in a way that makes it familiar to the users, and sometime even raising price can be a positive differentiator.
Just how much time and energy would you spend pondering over which dustbin to buy next? Chances are, not a lot. But for some consumers in China, even seemingly mundane things like trashcans have started to become significant from a social status point of view. More and more Chinese consumers are shifting their consumption of even routine everyday things to more premium categories. They are often influenced by their own experiences or those of their peers, travels abroad, foreign movies or social media. But increasingly now there are a whole host of services that are geared towards exposing Chinese people to newer things—and making them buy.