9 out of 10 Western brands have Chinese consumers pegged as one homogenous group.
So they often take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to market entry when hyper segmentation gets far better results.
Their approach is flawed for a number of reasons, but even as an anthropology student, I fell prey to it as well.
I came to China to do fieldwork on minorities in Yunnan in 1995. Young, full of hope…. and DUMB. I knew nothing, but thought I did.
What my younger self and Western brands have in common is the belief that we could survive and thrive anywhere… without a deeper understanding of our environment.
Needless to say, this approach FAILED and I ended up near death with Typhoid Fever.
China is a big and complicated environment with over 450 minorities and dialects… and countless cultural idiosyncrasies, legacy systems and unique traditions that vary widely from place to place.
Decades later, I still consider myself a student of China. Only this time, a humble and open-minded one… an approach that never fails.