Kyle D. Hegarty is the Managing Director for TSL APAC, where he works to provide the most effective methods companies use to sell around the globe. Based in Singapore, Kyle focuses on Cross-Cultural Leadership, Sales and Marketing training for companies expanding in Asia and driving sales and marketing campaigns for clients around. When not on the road or with his family, Kyle uses any free time to train, and compete in, IronMan triathlons.
The Year of the Dog begins this week which means, among other things, this is the season when western companies fall over themselves by slapping zodiac animals on their products in hopes of appealing to Chinese consumers. Gucci dog purse, anyone? At the same time, digital payments in China continue to accelerate. Last year, the Chinese New Year tradition of ‘hong bao’ – where cash-filled red envelopes are given as gifts – saw 46 billion electronic transfers. Yes, billion.
China’s transformation continues to play out in astounding ways both internally and globally. The country’s growing relevance on the world stage should not be underestimated. Globalization has never been so confusing as it is today thanks to the Middle Kingdom.
The mere mention of China triggers consumer brand executives to salivate over the growing army of shoppers and their wallets. Conversely. the same word causes western technology executives to back away with their tail between their legs.
Since its debut in the 1964 World’s Fair, Disney’s “It’s a small world” theme park ride continues to be a crowd favorite celebrating international peace and unity. As Disney continues its expansion overseas with new theme parks, movies, educational programs and all-other-things Disney, the company remains a great on-going case study for how globalizing companies wrestle with the challenges of a world packed with different local preferences and tastes. In many cases, it turns out it’s not such a small world after all.
In their attempt to break into the Chinese market, Victoria’s Secret seems to have been caught with their cultural pants down. Their most recent fashion show in Paris last December was intended to win over Chinese shoppers as the company is in the process of opening their first stores on the mainland. But critics saw things differently. The Global Times called Victoria’s Secret “the latest international brand to rub Chinese consumers the wrong way with ill-conceived Chinese-inspired elements in its designs.”
An American company quietly shuts down their APAC office in Singapore. They conclude that the business model “doesn’t work in Asia.” The local team wouldn’t innovate and respond to local market needs. The American Managing Director thought having a ‘flat hierarchy’ was the answer. He was wrong. His company writes off a few million dollars.