Is China the most important global market for marcomms outside the US?

China is an extremely important international market, but companies are reporting strong growth in a number of developing countries. China should be the centerpiece of a broad international focus.

Yes

Peter Prodromou, Chief global accounts officer, Racepoint Group
Two decades of experience working with corporations to develop comms strategies

China is a vital PR market and easily the second most important to the US, if not first in some instances, given its economic importance.

Any global agency not investing in a Pacific Rim strategy, with China central to the core of its efforts, is taking a significant risk. Even with lower first-quarter GDP, China is still the most dynamic growth engine in the world. Coupled with America's likely continued vitality in the 21st century, we are likely to see a powerful axis between the two countries for years to come.

The real question is: do major Western corporations doing business in China treat this market with the seriousness it deserves? Are companies making the proper investments relative to the importance of the market? My observations and experience lead to me to say no.

How does this play out? For starters, many are content to use a PR strategy that focuses exclusively on translating and localizing press releases and distributing them to local media. This misses the opportunity to engage in dialogue and foster relationships with key opinion leaders. Companies that look to fully leverage social channels and creative as a broader overall strategy in the US often treat China as a press release market.

Our counsel and execution consistently reflects a viewpoint on what we believe the Chinese market deserves – comprehensive, strategic campaigns that integrate influencer management, social media programs reflective of the local culture and customs, traditional media, and analyst programs.

China is a market where playing outside the box is essential to achieving our clients' missions, from a branding, sales, and leadership perspective. These are the principles that should inform campaigns throughout China. Companies entering the region need to treat their in-market PR with the same level of commitment that they do with their own business interests. This means tight alignment with their broader global marketing strategies, full integration of resources into the global marketing infrastructure, as well as diverse campaign components.

No

Rob Gelphman, VP, marketing and member relations, MoCA
Oversees marketing for home-entertainment networking advocacy group

The market in China is important. It is growing and attractive. However, one should consider the world as the overall market.

My observations, based on international travel in the last few years, are that China is a critical and potentially lucrative market that cannot be ignored. But so is rest of the world.

Multimedia over Coax Alliance provides technology for pay TV operators. In addition to China, Latin America, Europe, and other countries in Asia are all experiencing growing pay TV subscription and revenues. Consumers are buying their second HDTVs and have discovered the convenience of the DVR. Wherever I go outside the US, everyone has a tablet and a smartphone.

The numbers for Latin America are staggering. Brazil alone has 200 million people. Mexico has more than 110 million. The median incomes are not equal to the US or Europe, but are growing. This is also true of China. And GDP has been growing steadily in Latin America as well as much of the developing world.

What is needed is an international communications strategy tailored to fit a specific region, inclusive of language, culture, business practices, and methods.

China and Latin America – and India to name another huge population and land mass – are hurtling toward the 21st century. The middle class in these regions is established and growing. Governmental intervention and regulation is still greater than what we are accustomed to in the US, but relaxed rules now accommodate international investment.

There is also a move toward democracy in many regions where it has been absent. The rule of law in many countries, though still not up to US standards, is maturing and is a recognized and desirable objective everywhere and by everyone.

And everyone wants to buy stuff. Consumerism is universal. The world is flat. Markets are international with cultural and language and business practices requiring a localized touch. Segmentation is key.

China is important and will be for a long time, but so is the rest of the world.


PRWeek's View
China is an extremely important international market, but companies are reporting strong growth in a number of developing countries. China should be the centerpiece of a broad international focus.

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