For an emerging market like China, these issues are doubly resonant as the country looks to tap into existing wealth in Western Europe as its own economy slows.
Additionally, taxes are high both for export and import, not to mention the vast tax placed on non-Chinese goods in the country, presenting a significant barrier to entry for many businesses. This inflexible approach to taxation may be dressed up as protectionism but, ultimately, the result is less access and fewer Chinese brands in the open market.
Whats to be done
Leaving aside these major structural obstacles, which are largely governmental, there are still techniques of ensuring gradual market penetration in the west.
It goes without saying that investment in trading houses, representatives and export intermediaries are good options, but these can often be prohibitively expensive. A possible solution is an affordable means of getting products into the hands of western consumers that helps to raise awareness of it and generates opinion.
As with many products, actual tangibility and interaction with the consumer is vital to form a brand that is saleable. What is needed is targeted sampling activity that gets a new product into consumers hands accompanied by a questionnaire for them to provide their feedback. Sampling in this way will enable brands to target specific demographics of consumers, say a certain age bracket, living within a certain area and earning a set amount, to ensure they receive feedback only from the desired audience segment.
Essentially, what Chinese brands need to do is test their offering first and adapt it as appropriate based on consumer feedback. A full-scale launch without testing the waters first could easily result in failure and the loss of a crippling amount of money.
The lesson to learn is that patience, systematic acquisition of feedback and its careful application to make a brand locally viable is the route to success in the West.
Hannah Campbell is operations director at The Work Perk.