Selling to the New Chinese Consumer

Palgrave Macmillan, 2005 more...

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


You can find an abundance of books about doing business in China. This one, however, takes a rare approach. Ad expert Tom Doctoroff confines his commentary (for the most part) to a subject he has the expertise to address – advertising – although he tends to generalize a bit about Chinese history and philosophy. He offers evidence and examples from both successful and unsuccessful ad campaigns to support his assertions about what will work if you want to build your brand in China. getAbstract finds that this short book offers interesting perspectives on the Chinese consumer market, while it also provides a refresher course on the main principles of advertising and brand building in any market, whether it be East or West.


China's Middle Class: Overview

Until a few years ago, China didn't really have a middle class. Now it does. Yet China's middle class has a distinctive set of aspirations, fears, beliefs and doubts, which are the legacy of China's 5000-year dynastic history and its turbulent postrevolution years. So, while China has a middle class, it is Chinese – not Western, not Japanese, not anything else. Many rules that work elsewhere don't apply in China. To penetrate the Chinese middle class, marketers should remember these principles:

  • Charge a premium for conspicuous consumption – The appearance of status and success is so important in China that consumers are willing to pay for it.
  • Status is a tool, not a goal – Marketers should view status as active, not as passive. The purpose of status symbols is to empower.
  • Don't go overboard – Make plausible promises, but keep expectations realistic.
  • Understate, don't brag – Ostentatious braggadocio won't work in China.
  • Home is where Chinese can be themselves – The home is a safe harbor from the risks of the outside world. It's also a place for self-expression.
  • The child is gold – In China'...

About the Author

Tom Doctoroff is greater China CEO for one of the region's largest advertising agencies. In the past 11 years, he has partnered with more than 50 Chinese clients, both multinational and domestic. He is Asia-Pacific's leading speaker on Chinese marketing, advertising and corporate culture. He lives in Shanghai.

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