China DEMANDS Humility

If there’s been one constant during my 25+ years in China….it is CHANGE.

Opportunities seem to change by the minute. #Trends come and go. A category can go from on fire to ice cold overnight (and vice versa).

To succeed in #China, you MUST be #humble and willing to learn. You will be proven wrong time and again, but if you’re willing to #change and #adapt you can survive (and even thrive) as the environment evolves around you.

For example…

Over the last few months, we’ve seen a huge shift in the way shoppers are using technology.

Nearly all commerce is occurring online and consumers want to really EXPERIENCE the products digitally. They want their screens to come “alive.”

So as demand shifted, we did too. We are now running #livestreams every day.  If we had been set in our ways, our clients’ #sales would be lagging and we would likely be left behind.

I’ve seen different versions of this same story play out countless times throughout the years.

China’s a place that DEMANDS  #humility.

Only when you’re #honest and willing to learn can you actually see the #opportunities in front of you and stay in the winner’s circle.

Cheated by a KOL

Cheated by a KOL

Last week a KOL agency cheated us. The KOL they recommended was fake (as you can see in the data.)

I know 7000 isn’t much money. But their LIES are what gets to me. These agencies are so unscrupulous it is hard to tell the real from the FAKE.

Our client picked the KOL with the biggest following from the agency’s recommended list. They seemed to have an excellent track record.

What’s interesting is how elaborate the facade. It was extremely difficult (on the surface) to see that something sinister was lurking underneath…

…Until it was too late!

That said, we have a LOT of big wins for clients with livestream. Even our in-house streamers can turn once skeptical shoppers into brand enthusiasts.

So this was truly upsetting. Given the mad rush into the channel, I think the entire ecosystem is being threatened by such charlatans.

Bottom line?

Transactional marketing works but comes with inherent risk. Be sure to double check client references and demand verified performance data.

Otherwise, you may well end up the fool…

PS – If you want to make sure you avoid this particular KOL, comment YES and I’ll message you privately with their identity.

#China #Tmall #Taobao #KOL #Influencer #Cheated #Fake #Fraud #Ecommerce #ChinaBusiness #InternationalBusiness #Livestream

I’ve worked with hundreds of brands entering China and my number one advice to them is this…

Keep it simple.

1) If you’re starting from scratch in China, focus on things that are inexpensive but produce outsize results.

Relationships are key, and you can’t put a price on them. Spend your time cultivating the right ones and you can make big strides quickly.

Developing strong ties with key partners and influencers will pay off tenfold (and help you avoid costly mistakes along the way.)

2) Spend the time to cover yourself legally. Your trademark must be properly registered in China. It should be an exact mirror of the way Chinese consumers search your product in both Chinese and English.

3) Never, EVER give up control of your IP…don’t authorize or sign away rights to anyone for any reason. Maintaining control is SO MUCH EASIER than fighting to take it back.

Once you have the fundamentals in place, THEN contact operators and look at commandeering resources into a launch.

By keeping it simple from the start you’ll be much better positioned to succeed.

#China #ChinaBusiness #Ecommerce #Tmall #Taobao #InternationalBusiness #MarketEntry #Advice #KeepItSimple

I finally found a pattern in China that is the same as in other markets. You can see it everywhere. 

I finally found a pattern in China that is the same as in other markets. You can see it everywhere. 

We call it “success” and it is easy to visualize.

Think of it as a pot of water. Until it’s HOT, nothing happens. When that heat reaches a tipping point, you see tiny bubbles.

Then, all at once, you see thousands of them or tens of thousands. They get bigger and bigger until the entire pot boils over.

The curve is ALWAYS the same. Short or long. Online or off. B2B or B2C. Makes no difference.

…So why does every SINGLE commercial director expect “incremental” progress during a launch?

They treat a start up in China as if it is a well-established, mature business.

Never happens this way. It isn’t natural.

Post launch outcomes are UNPREDICTABLE AT BEST and most likely follow the curve shown.

Better yet, we have clients who insist on monthly breakdowns. Then try to hold us accountable.


Business planning (it seems) is based on a fairytale. Check out this 5 year pro forma “expectation” we got from a brand recently…

…I laughed!

Success isn’t incremental in China or ANYWHERE, so why use silly “outdated” KPIs to evaluate performance or measure progress?

They aren’t helpful.

A better use of time would be managing talent that specializes in “tipping point solutions.”

#China #ChinaBusiness #Success #Tmall #Taobao #InternationalBusiness

Sabotage: Your True Stories

Sabotage: Your True Stories

I recently shared our experience with sabotage in China. Competitors have gone to great lengths to try to thwart our clients. Turns out, we are far from alone.

I was contacted by countless others sharing their stories of sabotage in China. From harassment by thugs, to extra “regulations”…and even a bit of human feces (I wish I was making this up) doing business in China is NOT for the faint of heart.

Experienced something that’s not mentioned below? We’d love to hear your story.

#China #ChinaBusiness #Sabotage #Competitors #Success #Clients #TrueStory #ShareYourStory #InternationalBusiness #Ecommerce #Tmall #Taobao

Caught red handed…why deception doesn’t pay in Shanghai

Personally, I hate being deceived…especially by a dishonest foreigner working for a big retailer who feels “justified” if never caught in the act.

This week we were about to send a huge deposit and ship our client’s products to them. But as coincidence would have it, we also hired one of their category managers to join our Shanghai ops team.

She said they don’t pay vendors. So we looked into it.

Shanghai is one of the “smallest” towns I’ve ever lived in. Your reputation can make or break you (and the truth is hard to hide.)

In literally MINUTES, multiple industry friends sent us snapshots of private chats with their accounting department making excuses for non-payment…dating all the way back to June 2019!

Of course I confronted them. They didn’t even deny it. Instead, they sent a link showing an investment that would make the situation better.


#China #Tmall #Taobao #Deception #Reputation #Ecommerce #HonestyIsTheBestPolicy