The immense size of the Chinese market is no longer news, neither is its rapidly developing middle class. What is new however is the focus western companies invest as export sales begin to supersede that of the US home market.
Automobile manufacturers were the poster children for the GFC however in the wake of the devastation, they are perhaps also best positioned to recover with unique access to global markets. The 2012 Buick Verano is not yet available in the US, but a similar vehicle has been on sale since June 2010 in China. As reported by Alex Taylor III on CNNMoney.com, when GM VC Steve Girsky was asked to explain GMs Chinese bias, his response was; ‘It’s simple, do the math’. GM sold two million vehicles in China last year (more than the US) and this figure is expected to double in only five years.
The ‘intelligent’ and what is likely to be deemed ‘successful’ ingredient in this accelerated growth, is GM’s attention to the unique ethnic nuances of the Chinese market. Ed Welburn, GM’s VC of Global Design visits China four times a year paying close attention the what Chinese customers actually want. The results include jade sculptures in radiator grilles and an ice green colour in the instrument cluster. GM has purposefully sought to include eastern symbolism and values to culturally appropriate a product and position it for sales success - and it seems to be working.
Whilst this is culturally creative and perhaps even innovative, it is not really a new business philosophy to ‘give the customer what they want’.
Semiotics, the study of symbols, is today a fundamental function of business. Even small operators working within a country’s borders must pay attention to semiotics as multicultural communities continue to swell and command purchasing power.
Consider your business and customers, the endless diversity amongst them and you will soon realise that there is not a one-size fit’s all strategy for communicating or creating a product/service. If we are to thrive in the emerging global community, the time has come to understand diversity and truly give people what they want.