Although the final numbers arent in yet, many analysts are already predicting a record year for Black Friday sales. IBM is predicting a 24.3% increase sales over last year for black friday sales.
ComScore says online sales grew 26% (compared to 2010) totalling $816 million.
ShopperTrak said : “This is the largest year-over-year gain in ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate for Black Friday since the 8.3 percent increase we saw between 2007 and 2006. Still, it’s just one day. It remains to be seen whether consumers will sustain this behavior through the holiday shopping season. ”
Is it time to become an optimist about the economy? Not yet but its a good start. LEt's see how sales hold up through the holiday period.
The importance of “Saving Face”
Having spent many years in Asia, I quickly learned the importance of maintaining “face” when dealing with Asian businessmen. This becomes important when engaging in negotiations (for example). You must always allow the other participant to have a little wiggle room [even after submitting their best offer]. Even tough the new offer may be only minimally better, it should allow the Chinese participant (whether customer, partner or other) to have the final say and maintain face.
Interesting read : Wikipedia
Working with imperfect information
It’s no secret that information does not flow freely in China and local culture dictates that negative information should be suppressed as much as possible.
The National Bureau of Statistics publishes a giant manual called the China Statistical Yearbook. It contains all kinds of goodies for interested parties from the amount of residential floor space built to the amount of cargo carried by Chinese shippers. All wonderful and interesting stuff…
Foreign statistical experts I have spoken to question the validity of the information contained therein. They state the pressure on local officials to constantly show improving performance thus the motivation to “inflate or deflate” the published numbers. The delta from reality is sometimes small and other times extremely large. There is no way to tell for sure.
Even with all of it’s pitfalls, China is still the land of possibility and most business’ will choose to embark on the path of the Dragon. Remember to measure twice and cut once. Spend as much time as you need at the start of your endeavor to ensure it ends up the way you want.
The previous paragraph highlighted the difference between laws “on the books” and the extent to which business people are willing to bend them for profit. As a foreign company entering into the Chinese market, you should be thinking about how you will protect your Intellectual Property.
A common example of this is that of Will-Burt. Will-Burt is a company that manufactures and sells Night-Scan telescoping masts for police or military use. They entered the Chinese market and sales boomed. Then all of a sudden, the sales stopped. It seems a local company had reverse engineered their products and was selling perfect replica fakes. They went as far as printing Will-Burt’s name on the counterfeit products and presenting them at a local Chinese trade show. The irony is that its prime customers are law enforcement and military who seemed to be choosing the cheaper counterfeits.
Because of international pressure, the Chinese government is trying to fight IP theft and counterfeiting but it is an uphill battle. There are well entrenched officials and powerful Chinese business leaders who like things just the way they are. As a company entering the Chinese market, it is important to understand that you may have to spend buckets of money to defend and safeguard your corporate IP assets.
When in Rome, do like the romans
Anytime you are dealing with a foreign entity (partner or customers), it is important to learn as much about their local customs as possible. In North America, when I hand someone a business card, they likely take it with one hand and shove it into a pocket. In Asia (particularly in China), the custom is to accept someone’s business card with 2 hands, then read it carefully and present a genuine compliment related to it, the business or the neighborhood the business it located in.
There are also topics that will be cheerfully welcome and others that will be shunned (like Taiwan, Tiananmen Square, Tibet, Japan, etc). It is important to work with a local contact who can provide guidance and support as it relates to this section.
Many western educated Chinese are now returning home and taking prominent business positions in local companies. You will find it much easier to work with these younger Chinese managers as they are more likely to accept your western ways.
... to be continued