In order to conduct successful market research in China, it’s essential to recognise the potential pitfalls and to understand the various ways in which Chinese culture differs from Australian culture. Also important is the ability to look beyond the data towards the meanings that may be lurking behind the responses you receive.

This applies whether you are launching a new product, starting a new business, or developing a long-term strategy for the Chinese market.

Here’s some ways you can go about it.

  1. China has a very different culture

This goes without saying, but is still a very important point to keep in mind when designing your market research. An example of this is how individualism is less valued in China than in the west, in favour of collectivism.

Solution: Make sure to allow for cultural differences and to phrase your questions in a way that will allow you to gain meaningful and relevant responses.

  1. China is a big place

China is also not a monoculture – there are regional differences and income disparities in different areas, as well as a wide variety of industries. This means taking samples from one region or a limited number of regions is not likely to reflect the market accurately.

Solution: Use samples from a variety of regions when conducting your research in order to get a more accurate picture of the market.

  1. A matter of interpretation?

Certain words in Chinese can have different meanings depending on pronunciation and context. Using translation tools such as Google translate is very unlikely to pick up on such nuances.

Solution: When designing your market research programs, employ the services of a translator who is fluent in Chinese languages, and who also has a deep understanding of the local cultures.

  1. China has a number of ‘professional’ respondents

This refers to people who attend market research events for the rewards that are offered (which is probably not unusual in Australia either!). In some cases, respondents might attend repeats of the same research project, which could cause the results to be skewed.

Solution: Consider requesting that attendants produce identification when attending market research events, to ensure they don’t double up!

  1. There is no one-size solution when it comes to methodologies

While online or social media surveys may be appropriate for one situation, they may not be for another.

Solution: Develop methods that are a good match for the particular type of data gathering exercise. For example, online surveys might be the best option in some cases, while in others, face-to-face meetings might be needed – such as when you are conducting qualitative data-gathering.

  1. The Chinese can be very polite!

While we westerners might often be outspoken about our dislikes and displeasure, consumers in China have a preference for positive ratings, which may make opinions look more favourable than they really are.

Solution: Try to look for patterns that may indicate what is going on in the minds of respondents, rather than always taking scores at absolute face value.

If you need help with your China marketing strategy, our bilingual team is ready and willing to jump in and assist you. Contact us for a consultation today!

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