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Yes, the Chinese Market is different. But high quality is universal.

Most Western Executives have preconceived notions of some sort, when it comes to doing business in China. But where does perception end and reality begin?

For centuries Western businesspeople have dreamed of the riches to be had by “tapping into the Chinese market.” And while there are riches to be had, your organization stands little hope of success if you don’t follow the same business basics you’d follow anywhere. It’s easy to get caught up in the “China hype.” But it’s critical to recognize that many sound business practices transcend culture. If you don’t have a good product or service to sell at a reasonable price – and know what your customers want – then you’re probably not succeeding on your home turf either. China is a rich opportunity. But it is the ultimate capitalist market. Losers go home, often with significantly less cash and several hard-earned lessons in humility. It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re doing business. If you’re not offering quality and value to people that want what you’re selling, you’re sunk.

While Guanxi are important, that is step two – step one is to find and target your China business prospects, and prove the worth of your product or service, and that of your organization.

In our recent China business market survey, Chinese executives ranked product quality as far and above the most important factor as they consider potential business partners and suppliers. That shouldn’t surprise, but given all the talk of the importance of guanxi, or relationships in China, it’s easy to forget that while guanxi are important, they’re useless unless what you’re selling is what the market needs. Chinese buyers – business and consumers – are famously demanding and nearly impossible to fool. Don’t even try.

Instead, find out what they want. Listen to the Chinese market. And recognize that in China, as in business everywhere, a clear understanding of your market and your competition is the foundation for any successful venture.

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