In travels throughout China, there has been more than one opportunity to see firsthand Australian and Western business strategies, some doing excellent work, whilst other falling short of their potential. In any market, it’s about the customer and what may have worked in Australia or back in the states, may not work quite the same way in China and its vast and diverse markets.
By Western standards, companies like Starbucks can be seen to be doing well in China, the locations are always full of people. Opening their first outlet in 1999 and expanding across 177 cities to operate 4,200 stores. That is impressive, but in relative terms is not nearly as impressive as a local Chinese competitor, adjusting to the local palate and improving systems to surpass Starbucks in a short amount of time. In Australia, and particularly in Melbourne, the birthplace of the first Australian espresso and pizza brought over by Italian migrants, Starbucks had limited success, the market in Australia was just too sophisticated for the regular American coffee.
Regardless of the business you are in, there are two things you should know, your context ( according to Sun Tzu – your terrain), and your customer ( the culture); and as a consequence are you developing demand driven strategies ( by learning from your customers)?
Developing demand/opportunities driven strategies
- True customer focus is ‘empathy’ at a price
- Stepping out of your world and entering the world of your customer requires a mind shift for most people
- The art of interpreting customer requirements
- An unhindered view of downstream customers: managing the players that make up the industry value supply chain
- Putting the picture together: combining scenarios, with industry analysis and customer focus
- The incentive to buy: from a generic specification to an articulated value proposition
- Beyond products and services: developing solutions aimed at the customer’s end results
So are you thinking about your customer in their context and able to walk in their shoes?