Ioana Kraft began her career in international law, and moved to China 14 years ago. Since 2009, she has been the General Manager of the European Union Chamber of Commerce’s Shanghai chapter, working tirelessly to promote the interests of European businesses operating in eastern China. In this interview, she discusses the challenges and opportunities European businesses face in China.
Companies are dying fast these days. In the 1950s, the average age of a company on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was 60 years, now it is less than 20. But International Business Machines (IBM), known as “Big Blue”, seems to be an exception. Over the past few decades, it has managed to keep up as others were dying and has successfully transformed itself. Now it has become a provider of cognitive solutions and cloud services. How has such a giant company managed to transform? Gill Zhou, chief marketing officer of IBM China, offers an answer in this interview with CKGSB Knowledge.
Chinese consumers have changed faster than consumers in probably any other market. Increasing exposure to international media and social media is changing the expectations of Chinese consumers. On top of that, the broad economic slowdown and brand saturation in China has ratcheted up competition to new levels as the days of easy money disappear. For both multinationals and Chinese companies, the changing market dynamics present challenges they have never seen before. In this interview, Torben Pheiffer, Managing Director of SapientNitro, China, explains how companies need to adapt their branding strategies.
Fosun Group, the largest private conglomerate in China, has been on what looks like a no holds-barred acquisition spree for a few years now. It controls the largest number of listed companies in China. It has invested in sectors as diverse as fashion, films and tourism outside China, whereas within China, the company relies heavily on its industrial operations. It is known for having a good relationship with the government, yet last year, Fosun’s founder suddenly disappeared to supposedly assist a graft investigation. How has Fosun scaled up? How do the acquisitions tie in with its business model? And will it realize its ambitions of becoming China’s Berkshire Hathaway?
Doing business in China has never been easy for foreign-owned companies, but Uber has largely managed to avoid conflict by operating as a separate Chinese subsidiary, Uber China, on the mainland. However, Uber China still faces many challenges: competing with Didi, not being profitable, and even worse, its business has always been riding on a government regulation fence. In a market that is as challenging, and competitive as China’s, the answer to winning over China’s smartphone users lies deeper than just competitive pricing or partnerships.
Greater China is now Apple’s number two market after North America, comprising 24% of its business. In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors he expects Greater China will eventually become the company’s top global market. To be sure, Apple faces challenges in Greater China. Sales in the region rose 14% in the company’s first fiscal quarter ended December 26 to $18.4 billion, compared to 70% in the same period a year ago. In a January earnings call, Cook said Apple is starting to see “signs of economic softness” in Greater China. Does the tech giant have staying power in what is now its number two market?
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