Saturday, February 23, 2019

How China's KOLs differ from those in the US, Europe - Ashley Dudarenok

Ashley Dudarenok
Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in China differ very much from their colleagues in Europe and the US, says China marketing veteran Ashley Dudarenok, author of Digital China: Working with Bloggers, Influencers and KOLs to Vultlab. Western companies certainly need a China-strategy to enter this very different market, Ashley argues.

Vultlab:
Nicole: So would you say then that KOLs are just as inherently important to the world of marketing in China as it is in the West? And if so, would you say they influence more or less than our image of a social media influencer? 
Ashley: I’d say that they’re more important in China and have more influence. In the West, people have a different relationship with companies and traditional advertising and fewer trust issues in terms of that kind of advertising. Companies and ads have been regulated for decades. In China, there have been issues of trust in companies and their products from piracy to toxic ingredients. Traditional ads don’t have the power they once did and the market is flooded with them. Influencers, on the other hand, who have a good reputation and close relationship with their fans and followers, are trusted. 
Nicole: With this in mind, do you think if Western companies want to extend their marketing into China, should companies, startups, and businesses shift their approach to being more of a KOL themselves or could they use the strategies of a social media influencer? Why would maintaining the mentality of Western e-marketing be effective or not? 
Ashley: A typical Western approach wouldn’t be effective, as the market is just so different culturally, economically, content-wise and platform-wise. Western companies should definitely craft China-specific strategies, like giving more content and format freedom to key opinion leaders, being bold with new platforms like Douyin and so on. KOL marketing in China is even more important in your total marketing mix. And as Chinese influencers sell, they are also much more expensive and much more picky with the products, content and angles they promote. 
Nicole: So you do think Western influencers have a lot to learn from China as far as being effective e-marketers and vice versa? 
Ashley: Yes, both can and do learn from each other. Western influencers can learn from the way Chinese KOLs build their own brands and online retail channels all online, without using reality TV, risque content, controversy and without using other channels, while maintaining a loyal following. They can learn from the way they jump on hot topics and always maintain a positive tone. The level of content creativity in China is also high. There are so many KOLs in China and the competition is fierce, so they need to innovate even more. While Chinese bloggers can learn to use Western channels even more. Few, apart from Papi Jiang, have really given it a go. They can also learn from Korean pop stars who use Western social media well and are building larger and larger audiences outside of Asia.
More in Vultlab.

Ashley Dudarenok is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Why 5G will change our lives as we know it - Andy Mok

Andy Mok
While the world is still trying to come to terms with 5G and China's position on the new technology, China itself is deploying 5G on a large scale. Andy Mok, a non-resident fellow at Center for China and Globalization explains for state-owned CGTN what the consumers might still miss on this development.

CGTN:
Andy Mok, a non-resident fellow at Center for China and Globalization, stated that 5G was more than high Internet speed. 
"Those '90 percent underwater' part of the 'iceberg' that people didn’t know about 5G would trigger the essential breakthroughs for the industry 4.0," he said. 
"All of these applications that are for faster download speed to consumers is sexy, but I think what’s really important is the 90 percent underwater part that people don’t see. 
"What 5G is enabling, is hundreds of billions of devices to talk to each other. And that would change every industry, whether we are talking about transportation in driverless cars, health care in telemedicine, urban management with smart cities."
More at CGTN.

Andy Mok is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Working as a banned journalist, Jiang Xue - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
Journalist Ian Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, interviewed extensively Jiang Xue, a 45-year old Chinese writer, for the NY Review of books. She worked for Chinese Business View and Southern Weekend, two papers who suffered from heavy censorship. Jiang Xue is a devout Buddhist and tells in this section on her current life.

Ian Johnson:
You published regularly in the Hong Kong-based magazine The Initium. It’s blocked in China but were you able to circulate the articles inside China? 
I have my own public account on [the popular Chinese social media app] WeChat, but basically every time I publish something, it’s deleted. And now it’s deleted faster and faster! It used to take them a day to delete, but now it’s gone in an hour or faster. And The Initium is collapsing. They have no money anymore. 
What can you do now? 
I can’t do really big investigations because I don’t have the budget to travel widely. But I’m doing profiles of people who resist. And more about artists, too. 
You don’t know if you can publish them but you still write them? 
Yes, I just write them anyway. I feel I have to write them. As an independent journalist, if I think it’s important, I can write; so I do. In the past, you were always being told you can’t write about this or that. Now, I can write. 
But you can’t make a living. 
For the past few years, I didn’t consider money. I just felt it was important and I’d do it. For years, I had a good salary and so I have savings. We own our apartment. 
How long can that go on for? 
I’m not completely divorced from reality. It’s coming up on three years and I think I might have to find a real job. I might go back to find work, but then I wouldn’t be able to write about sensitive things. 
One of the few bright spots in Chinese social movements has been the rise of a new generation of feminists, including the Feminist Five. They were detained, but women’s issues still seem to be discussed, at least in some circles. How do you view it? 
Feminism is important. Those five young activists, the Feminist Five who were detained in 2015, attracted a lot of attention. It wasn’t really a radical action—just something in the subway in Guangzhou—but the way the police acted was radical, especially in Guangzhou, which we always considered as having more space [for dissent than the more tightly controlled Beijing]. I think they attracted a lot of attention because they could publicize their cases well, as young people on social media. And their actions were different from those earlier generation of people who struggled. It was more modern. This event was unusual, especially given the deterioration of the atmosphere here recently. 
The Tsinghua University professor Liu Yu [see my 2015 NYR Daily interview with her herecriticized the MeToo movement for using public denunciations instead of legal processes. She thought it was too much like the Cultural Revolution. 
In that article, Liu Yu maybe didn’t quite understand MeToo and what it was. She’s not that old, but she might not have been paying attention to Feminism 2.0, so perhaps she was a bit out of touch. She said, Why did those women have to protest? Why didn’t they go to the law? A friend said that Liu Yu should go with a student who’s been harassed and try to report sexual harassment. Then she’d see how hard it is. But the criticism of Liu Yu was terrible. She was cursed horribly online. This was far out of proportion. 
In your recent essay “You Look Like an Enemy of the State,” you wrote, “You and I are both in prison. Before, the prison was visible; now it isn’t.” How do you deal with this sort of hopelessness? 
There’s a term in Buddhism called chulixin. It means you don’t consider this time, or a lot of things in life, as that important. That has helped me.
You can read the full interview here.

Ian Johnson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Travel startups have a hard time in China - William Bao Bean

William Bao Bean
A dramatic consolidation has made life tough for all startups in China, including those focusing on travel, says William Bao Bean, the managing director of its Chinaccelerator, China’s first and leading startup accelerator based in Shanghai, to Phocuswire. Opportunities he still sees for the fast-growing number of outbound Chinese tourists.

Phocuswire:
William Bao Bean has been active in startups and investing in Asia since 2004, and he says in the last few years there has been dramatic consolidation - similar to what has happened in other technology sectors - that has left three dominant players: Alibaba, Tencent and Ctrip. 
“This makes it challenging to be a startup,” he says. 
“It’s almost like the mice trying to run around while three elephants are walking around. And every once in a while they’ll accidentally - or maybe on purpose - step on the mice and there’s nothing the mice can do about it.” 
To survive in what he says is one of the most competitive markets in the world, startups must provide something that is truly unique and useful. 
“Going back five or 10 years, all you needed to do was show up and run faster than the next guy and you could build a pretty decent business,” Bean says.
But even with a superior product, survival is not guaranteed. Companies trying to reach a meaningful segment of China’s more than 1.4 billion residents need deep marketing budgets to pay for exposure on WeChat, Baidu and other mobile platforms. 
“Everywhere in the world customer acquisition cost is high, but in China it’s really, really high,” Bean says. 
“In the U.S. you might be able to spend $2 or $5 to get a user. In China, to get a user to download an app and open it once, it’s between $5 and $100.” 
So where are there opportunities for travel startups in China? Bean sees potential in areas such as experiences, particularly those offering unique, specialized products, and for startups that can create benefits for existing travel suppliers. 
One example that SOSV has invested in: U.S.-based Portier Technologies, which puts mobile phones in luxury hotel rooms, giving guests access to free data and minutes and giving the hotels a cut of revenue from services booked through the phone. 
But for non-Chinese companies such as Portier to succeed in that market, Bean says they need local market knowledge. 
“So if you are a big global player, you basically have to have a China play. But the issue is the infrastructure, the market, how you advertise, how you retain. Everything in China is a bit different,” he says. 
Bean cites Airbnb, a company his firm has worked with to understand the Chinese market, as an example of the learning curve. “Chinese culturally generally do not like being hosts. They really, really do not want some random person in their frickin’ house,” he says. 
"But the funny thing is, Chinese are perfectly willing to go live in somebody else’s house - especially if it’s in a nice neighborhood, in Los Angeles, in the hills. They love that. So Airbnb has not done particularly well signing up hosts, but they’ve been very successful at signing up Chinese who are traveling abroad.” 
Bean says the very large outbound market of travelers wanting new, unique and local experiences provides many opportunities for innovation. 
“As an investor, will I do another online travel agency? No. But there is still a lot of opportunity around travel, and there is still a lot of money to be made.”
More in Phocuswire.

William Bao Bean is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Slowdown and reducing debts go hand in hand - Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers and his daughter Happy
China's economy is going through a reduced growth and, says investor Jim Rogers, that might be an excellent idea as the country has to bring back its debts, he says on his weblog. 'China's economy is slowing, fortunately for China and fortunately for the world."

Jim Rogers:
China's economy is slowing, fortunately for China and fortunately for the world. When anything goes straight up without a pause is going to have a huge crash someday. The situation, the way I read it, well, you know what's happening with Trump, you know what's happening with the trade war and things of that sort. But also China has built up a lot of debt in the last decade or so and the government is now insisting, demanding and forcing people to start reducing their debt. When you go from adding debt to reducing debt, you're obviously going to have a slowdown. That's my assessment but I'm sure there are other things going on as well.
More at Jim Rogers' weblog.

Jim Rogers is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Raising a voice inside the Party, Li Rui - Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
Going against the dominant line of the communist party seldom ends well. One of the exceptions was Li Rui, a confidant of Mao Zedong, tells journalist Ian Johnson in Li's obituary for the New York Times. He fought against the Three-Gorges Dam, and most recently against the position of Xi Jinping, while he remained a member of the party he often criticized.

Ian Johnson (on the last part of Li Rui's life):
In 1975, he was released from Qincheng but sent back to his mountain exile. It was only after Mao died and Deng Xiaoping took power at the end of 1978 that Mr. Li was given back party membership. He returned to Beijing to rejoin the Ministry of Water Resources. He again opposed plans to build the Three Gorges Dam, teaming up with the journalist and environmental activist Dai Qing to prevent the gargantuan project. 
He later was transferred to the party’s influential Organization Department, where he helped oversee the recruitment of new officials. But his career ended abruptly in 1984 when he refused to give special preference to the offspring of senior officials. 
“Between choosing telling the truth or a promising career future, he always chose the truth,” Ms. Dai said in an interview. “He has been true all his life.” 
That began the most influential stage of his life: elder statesman with a conscience.
He lost the battle over the Three Gorges Dam, which hard-liners pushed through in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and the defeat of reformers in the Communist Party. 
But he wrote a highly influential book about the Lushan meeting, “The Veritable Records of the Lushan Conference,” which countered the party’s story that the famine was not Mao’s responsibility. He also wrote essays, articles and open letters to senior leaders calling for more transparency and tolerance. 
Perhaps most importantly, he became the patron saint of “Yanhuang Chunqiu,” or “China Through the Ages,” an edgy journal that took on sensitive historic issues, such as the Great Leap Famine or the Cultural Revolution, that the Communist Party wanted forgotten. 
“He was idealistic,” said Wu Si, its editor until 2016. “He didn’t work for political gain.”
But Mr. Li’s vision of a more open and democratic China faded. By 2016, Mr. Wu was fired as head of the magazine and it was taken over by hard-liners.

“I’m afraid there was nothing that Li Rui could do,” Mr. Wu said. “It was beyond the ability of one person to protect.” 
Mr. Li refused to back down, however, writing critically about President Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader since Mao. In an essay, he contrasted Mr. Xi with his late father, Xi Zhongxun, who had been known for his tolerance and opposition to strongman rule. 
Mr. Li wrote that around 2006 he went to Zhejiang Province, where Mr. Xi was then serving as party secretary. Mr. Xi took him out to dinner and Mr. Li urged him to speak out against abuses in the system. According to Mr. Li, China’s future leader rebuffed him: 
“How can I emulate you? You can hover on the fringes” — the implication being that the ambitious Mr. Xi wanted to be at the center of power. 
Mr. Li added a damning comment to the story: “In the West there is a saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 
For the Chinese historian Zhang Lifan, Mr. Li epitomized the tragedy of a generation. Many initially saw the Communist Party as China’s salvation, watched as it turned into a dictatorial force under Mao’s nearly 30 years at the top, and then yearned that the reform era would finally bring changes — only to see these hopes dashed by the party’s inability to renounce authoritarianism. 
“The ‘China Through the Ages’ incident was a sign that Li Rui and his peers’ dream would never come true,” Mr. Zhang said. “But I understand Li Rui: To deny the party would have meant denying his own life.”
More in the New York Times.

Ian Johnson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more stories by Ian Johnson? Do check out this list.

How China manages its growing bad loans - Sara Hsu

Sara Hsu
China's bad loans are increasing, but the country's financial authorities have been trying to crack down on this source of financial stability. How are those efforts faring now China is suffering from a relative drop in economic growth. Financial analyst Sara Hsu discusses the dilemma's the authorities are facing especially now the trade war is ongoing.

Sara Hsu is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more financial experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

Digital money, not crypto currencies will galore - Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers
While renowned investor Jim Rogers is a firm believer in the blockchain technology and is sure that China leads the way in digitizing money, he believes that governments will stick to their own currencies, rather than crypto ones, he says on his weblog.

Jim Rogers:
Paper money is going to disappear and it's going to be on the internet but this is going to be government money; it's not going to be anybody else's money. Money is already disappearing in China and in many countries. China's far ahead of the United States for instance. 
While I'm extremely optimistic about blockchain and I'm extremely optimistic about the changes of money to the internet which I know is happening it's not going to be cryptocurrencies because the governments are not going to let it happen.
More at Jim Rogers' weblog.

Jim Rogers is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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What does China's 5G development means for you - Sara Hsu

Sara Hsu
Fintech expert Sara Hsu explains at her YouTube channel why China is eager to speed up the development of its 5G network, and what it means for the rest of the world. How do US and European concerns on cybersecurity relate to China's development, ZTE, and Huawei, and how does it relates to you.

Sara Hsu is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more fintech experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

How Trump's trade war is backfiring - Sara Hsu

Sara Hsu
Trump's trade war against China is backfiring, says financial analyst Sara Hsu at the China Focus. While ideologically the trade war makes sense, US consumers and companies pay a high price, she says.

Sara Hsu:

The problem is that the world is so globalized at present that hurting Chinese interests also harms US interests. Trump’s imposition of tariffs on American consumers and producers, including multinationals producing in China, has resulted in rising costs and economic losses. At present, the world is waiting to find out whether the trade war will escalate or whether tensions will die down. If the Trump administration doubles down on Chinese tariffs, unemployment in the US will rise and economic woes for both nations will set in. 
Trump’s nationalist ideology might have felt like a necessary antidote to fighting the unseen adversaries of globalization. For a man who sees the world in black and white, and for Americans tired of losing jobs to their cheaper Chinese counterparts, making China the primary enemy of the US is a winning strategy. However, this approach is already backfiring, creating costs in the US and abroad. 
What Trump has gotten wrong is that while China is most definitely a rival of the US, it is not a foe. It’s dangerous to position other nations as antagonists, because this opens the door for hostilities to grow. While Obama’s approach to China was far more subtle, it did less harm to the global economy and preserved a key partnership between the two nations. 
Going forward, it will be challenging to restore this critical connection while also maintaining a healthy rivalry. In all likelihood, even after the political tides have changed, nothing the US will do to check China’s global ambition will be looked upon benignly. The most important bilateral relationship in the world has become a game of brinksmanship, under reactionary strongman politics. So much for globalization. 

More at the China Focus.

Sara Hsu is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

How Tencent became a winner with WeChat - Matthew Brennan

Matthew Brennan
China's internet giant Tencent has become a winner, first by copying US competitors, but now it has become their inspirator, says Tencent-watcher Matthew Brennan to Leadersleague. “WeChat does not monetize data, but it is a growth lever for other businesses in the Tencent group. It’s a bit like iOS or Android in that regard,” says Brennan.

Leadersleague:
Tencent does not sell access to user-data to third parties, such as advertisers. The data of the Chinese app is to all intents and purposes the handsets of the users. “It would have been possible to compare We Chat to Facebook, Baidu to Google or Alibaba to Amazon ten years ago, but that’s no longer possible today,” insists Matthew Brennan a consultant specializing in Chinese IT... 
The most widely used of WeChat’s secondary functions is WeChat Pay. Until recently, Chinese people’s attachment to paying with hard cash was the norm. Nowadays, e-commerce represents 14% of all retail sales, against 8% in France. With WeChat Pay, you can use your phone to settle a bar tab or pay an electricity bill. Even the famous hongbao red envelopes Chinese use to exchange monetary gifts are being replaced by the application. During the 2017 Chinese New Year period, 14 billion transactions were carried out using the app. “Tencent has taken advantage of the lack of a developed baking sector in China, where the use of credit cards is not commonplace,” adds Brennan. By cannibalizing all the different services available on smartphones, WeChat has become a killer app, which the competition find impossible to match. 
Tencent is the big winner from the success of WeChat. Not only does the company take a percentage of every transaction made using the app, but it has developed its own content for the platform. “WeChat does not monetize data, but it is a growth lever for other businesses in the Tencent group. It’s a bit like iOS or Android in that regard,” stresses Brennan. Via WeChat Tencent can commercialize other businesses, such as Tencent Video or Tencent Music. In total the average mobile phone user spends 55% of their time on a Tencent service. The case of streaming services is particularly instructive. Thanks to WeChat, Tencent has managed to increase the subscriber base of its VOD platform Tencent Video, seizing a quarter of the Chinese market. The company claims to have more subscribers than Netflix even. 
Between 2016 and 2017, Tencent made 318 investments in startups and diversified number of sectors it is involved in in order to propose more services on WeChat. Tencent has invested in Karius, a platform specializing in the diagnosis of infectious diseases, and branched out into the connected agriculture sector.
More in Leadersleague.

Matthew Brennan is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

How to stand out as a vlogger in China? - Ashley Dudarenok

Ashley Dudarenok
Marketing veteran Ashleys Dudarenok talks to successful vlogger Susie Hu about the competitive vlogging ecosystem on mainland China, where large numbers of would-be online celebrities try to join. What is your core value? How can you stand out among the competition and what are the most successful platforms?

Ashley Durarenok is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

Are you looking for more marketing experts at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.