Challenges for Chinese Companies Specializing in Cross-border Marketing


With great export opportunities and robust markets, more and more Chinese businesses are crossing borders. Thus, when products and services can be rolled out internationally, new markets suddenly open up with significant potential for Chinese companies who want to enter and compete.

However, cross-border marketing often comes with pitfalls. Many Chinese companies have made big mistakes in cross-border marketing before they actually allocate resources, such as failing to do some research, or neglecting to work with partners who know these international markets better and therefore can help penetrate them. Sometimes these mistakes in cross-border marketing may include misunderstandings of cultural sensitivities, legislative differences, stereotypical prejudices or even protectionist tendencies.

One of the greatest challenges for Chinese companies and marketers in cross-border marketing is language. For Chinese-speaking brands, they face a problem that to what extent they should translate slogans or campaign messages, particularly given the divergence it may cause in linguistic interpretations. The decision has to be taken into consideration based on whether strong brand image and the original logo of Chinese companies will be sufficient to build a presence out of China.

Use of foreign local language brings a new level of engagement with consumers in foreign markets. In some cases of cross-border marketing, there is a legal requirement to translate materials into local languages.

The other challenge for Chinese companies specialized in cross-border marketing is culture. Doing cross-border marketing means interactions, not only translation, with people from other cultures every single day, which can be problematic for many marketers. It is because that most marketers are trained about marketing, not about culture.

Below are some features summarized from doing cross-border marketing with Germans, Americans and French.

Germans: Germans are perfectionists with high expectations toward details. They want to understand and control details. Therefore they work with exact and detailed plans. They always need precise details because they want to minimize errors.

Americans: Americans are more risk-taking. For an American, it seemed that he has nothing to be afraid of. And most Americans don’t actually attempt to avoid risks, they just don’t waste much time to worry about them. Taking risks also means making mistakes. In an environment where risks are seen as something coming with opportunities, it is easier to forgive mistakes.

French: Working with the French can be entertaining. For example, French politicians have limited knowledge of foreign languages, like many French people.

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