Thursday, June 2, 2016

Breaking in to lucrative China market - a hard road for Aust business

The rapid rise of China's expanding middle class is a potentially lucrative opportunity for Australian businesses.

But as many are finding out, it's not as simple as just arriving and setting up shop in the world's second biggest economy.

Listen to my special report broadcast on The World Today

Businesses have to deal with cultural differences, negotiate with a myriad of Chinese regulators and navigate harsh restrictions on the Internet - better known as the Great Firewall of China.

That's opened up an opportunity for Sinorbis, a specialist digital business which is helping Australian entrepreneurs exploit the burgeoning demand from China.

Chief executive Nicolas Chu says China's private consumption is rapidly expanding and there is massive demand for high quality goods and services from countries like Australia.

"Chinese consumers are increasingly looking internationally for premium goods and services and Australia is high on their radar, demonstrated by strong year-on-year increases in search volumes for Australian products," said Mr Chu said.

"This is a pivotal time for international businesses to position themselves to meet growing demand from China's new generation of upper-middle class consumers. Many businesses baulk at doing business in China, but with the right knowledge and local expertise it can be as easy as doing business in Australia."

Sinorbis co-founders Nicolas Chu (left) and Allan Wu with a client in Sydney

A big opportunity - but one fraught with cultural and regulatory issues - is the recent relaxation of the one child policy in China.

The prospect of middle aged Chinese couples racing to conceive a second child before it's too late is a major challenge for fertility specialist Dr Raewyn Teirney and he Sydney-based company "ConceivePlease".

"It's a great opportunity for my product to get into China and giving people advice and a one stop kit that will help them conceive naturally," Dr Teirney said.

Dr Teirney is using Sinorbis to develop a culturally sensitive Chinese name for her product and to use focus groups to develop the most sensitive way to market it.

But Dr Teirney should brace for big cultural and regulatory hurdles, warns tech entrepreneur Leo Coates who made his first attempt to set up shop in China four years ago.

"It blew me away. I had all the text book study and all the understanding you could have in the world thinking that business in China should be fairly straight forward," Mr Coates said.

"However I found myself sitting down eating McDonalds on the trade room floor thinking how on earth am I going to do this.

"From the authorities, the complications with the language and the culture to the pricing structure, I was in an absolute twirl."

Sinorbis has just released a white paper titled "Stoking the Dragon: Unlocking China's New Generation of Digital Consumers".

It says China's private consumption is rising rapidly through rapid urbanisation and ecommerce, and will grow by another 50 percent to A$8.6 trillion by 2020.

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