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Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      All about the highest-rated nationally syndicated show, Laowai Kandian●      What is Peking Opera●      The world of philanthropy in China●      Being a board member of the China Pacific Construction Group●      The eating and drinking culture of doing business in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we continue our conversation with Elyse Ribbons, CEO and Founder at GeiLi Giving, which has built a WeChat app connecting charities to Chinese netizens through engaging challenges to encourage giving.She is also the Founder of Cheeky Monkey Theater and host of the nationally syndicated news-talk show Laowai Kandian, the success of which she goes into in today’s conversation.The show invites people of different nationalities to come together and speak candidly about difficult topics—a practice that Elyse notes may just be that elusive key to achieving world peace.“At the end of those conversations,” she says, “you can always find that human element. Even if you agree to disagree about little details, you can always agree on the important basics.”Elyse then describes her experience in the Peking opera scene, describing the art form as “the crystallization of so many Chinese values: aesthetic, artistic, moral”. She also speaks on an interesting connection between the classic 14th century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, and the culture of business in China.Finally, Elyse describes the world of philanthropy in China as well as the nature of business unique to the country, drawing from her own experience as a former board member of the China Pacific Construction Group. Key Quotes:“[Peking Opera] is the crystallization of so many Chinese values: aesthetic, artistic, moral.” “When you have a passion for something, you study it, you learn it, and you hold it much more dearly than people who just sort of passively have to accept it. They didn’t choose to learn Chinese; they had to. I choose, on a daily basis, to continue learning Chinese.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      What it takes to become truly fluent in another language●      All about Cheeky Monkey Theater and Star Theatre●      Chinese versus Western cinema●      The speed of Chinese business as both a blessing and a curse Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Elyse Ribbons, a startup founder, radio show host, actor, and writer in China, who is also incredibly fluent in Mandarin. She is the Founder of Cheeky Monkey Theater and host of the nationally syndicated news-talk show Laowai Kandian. She kicks off the conversation by talking about what drew her to China all the way back in 2001 and how she was able to achieve an impressive level of fluency in Mandarin. Aside from her work in theatre, Elyse has also been cast in a number of Chinese films. All of this gives her a unique perspective on the local entertainment industry that most foreigners never get a chance to see.She speaks on her various opportunities to work in the Chinese movie industry and along the way touches on how the culture of speed in China’s business world influences even the entertainment sphere. Key Quotes:“There are so few people, especially in China, who do business and art—especially theatre art. Broadway is a business. Broadway is not pure art; so, you have to be able to understand business to do good shows.” “This culture of going by the seat of your pants is a benefit and a curse. It’s one of the reasons Chinese startups actually can do so well with the changing environment around them—because there are no plans. So, you’re pivoting constantly, because you’re dealing with whatever is directly in front of you.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Liam’s work in Public Affairs and Communications at WPIC●      Becoming involved with the Olympics●      Looking back at the Beijing Olympics●      The level of interest of the Chinese population in the Olympic games●      The stars of the Olympics●      The state of Chinese hockey post-Olympics●      Lesser-known notable news stories in China that did not make the headlines●      The lasting impact of the Olympics on winter sports in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Liam Mather, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at WPIC Marketing + Technologies. Reporting to the Chief Marketing Officer, Liam helps guide WPIC's public and government affairs, strategic communications, media engagement, corporate branding, and sales enablement.Liam previously worked in BCW's Corporate and Public Affairs practice in Beijing, where he helped clients manage reputations, respond to crises, and navigate policy issues.He was a 2020 Fellow of the American Chamber of Commerce in China’s Leadership Development Program. He has a Bachelor's degree in Honours History from McGill University, where he focused on international Cold War history and served as Chair of Debates for the debating union.Liam’s work at WPIC is focused on telling “the story of the enormous opportunity that exists in China for foreign brands,” and educating these brands on how working with WPIC is the best way for them to tap into this opportunity.Following his recent role as a spotter for the hockey program at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, Liam left with a very positive impression of the planning and execution of the whole event. Calling it “an enormously impressive organizational feat,” Liam highlights the management’s success at keeping COVID at bay, particularly via the massive quarantine bubble that was able to hold 70,000 people, including 5000 athletes, at the peak of the event.Hockey—and winter sports in general—has a bright future in China. The numbers of ice rinks and players have exploded in the last five years: from 200 to 900 rinks, and from 1000 to 13,000 players, both since 2015. Those numbers will only continue to climb, especially in the aftermath of the Olympics. Key Quotes:“I’m trying to tell the story of the enormous opportunity that exists in China for foreign brands. Part of that story is how working with WPIC is the best way for brands to tap into this opportunity.” “In terms of the state of hockey in China, before the Olympics, we saw very significant growth in hockey participation and hockey infrastructure. In 2015, the year Beijing won the game’s bid, there were 200 ice hockey rinks. Now there are 900, which is a pretty massive increase. That actually makes China one of the top countries in the world for the number of ice rinks. Just five years ago, there were about 1000 players in China, according to the IIHF; but, now there are 13,000.” “I think we’re going to see China in the future as being a strong winter sports nation just like it’s been such a strong country in the summer games.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Tmall’s International Women's Day●      The most sought-after products among women in 2022●      Trends in the food & beverage space●      Why there is more demand for sleep supplements●      Health and wellness trends in the West that might make it to China very soon●      UK and Nordic products that have captured the attention of Chinese consumers●      What Gen-Z female consumers look for compared with their older counterparts●      Differences between consumers across different geographies in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Zarina Kanji. Based in London, she is the Head of Business Development for Health & Wellness and Food & Beverage Brands at Alibaba. She previously served as VP of Global Fashion Brand Partnerships at Lazada in Singapore.Zarina speaks with us about Tmall’s upcoming International Women’s Day—a key event tied to the company’s Super Brand Day—on March 8, 2022. It has proven in previous years to be the third-largest shopping festival in the nation, behind 11.11 and 6.18, and is a unique opportunity for brands to engage with women across China.From influencer parties to limited edition product launches, International Women’s Day, or “Queen Day” as it is sometimes called, is a celebration of all things female.The five major trends predicted for this International Women’s Day are inner beauty, beauty tech, probiotics (gut health), sleep supplementation (which include the phenomenon of 朋克养生 or pengke yangsheng, also known as “punk health”), and sportswear.With regards to food & beverage, Zarina notes that China is rapidly becoming the world’s largest market for healthy eating, and especially healthy snacking. This trend, adopted primarily by millennials and Gen-Z, was largely spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 30 million consumers purchased healthy food on Tmall global alone in 2020, a 30% rise from the previous year. Alibaba saw a 56% rise in healthy on-the-go foods, which include sesame balls, goji berry beverages, and meal replacement shakes. Zarina sees plant-based consumables as an upcoming trend in the near future.She also says that there is a  growing demand for health and wellness products in the UK and Nordic countries thanks to the quality of ingredients typically used in these items.Finally, Zarina discusses the importance of catering to the demands of younger female consumers as a Chinese brand. With Tmall Global alone, around 70% of consumers are female. 85% are 39, and 59% of those consumers are under 30. Key Quotes:“The health and wellness industry is estimated to grow by 19% from 2020 to 2025—up to $145 billion. Much of this will cater towards China’s 685 million women.” “In China, what you put in and on your body absolutely matters.” “China is rapidly becoming the world’s largest market for healthy eating, and notably healthy snacking is what we talk about a lot.” “It’s really important that brands are looking towards the demands of Gen-Z, millennial, female consumers in China. If we take Tmall Global alone, around 70% of our consumers are female. 85% of our consumers are under 39, and 59% of those consumers are under 30.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The Shanghai/Beijing rivalry●      Companies that are finding success in China●      The nature of legal risk in China versus North America●      How Chinese law develop into its current framework●      Data privacy considerations●      China’s corporate laws●      Common mistakes foreign companies make in negotiating and drafting contracts with Chinese companies Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Art Dicker, Director at R&P China Lawyers, a boutique PRC law firm that supports international business in China. He is also Director at Acclime China, which offers a complete suite of premium accounting & tax compliance services in China.Art has spent the last 14 years working in China to advise technology, manufacturing, and consumer companies on structuring their investments and managing legal risk in their operations. He has a deep understanding of the practical difficulties and cultural gaps faced by international headquarters in managing their legal risk in China, having served as Asia Pacific General Counsel at Cadence Design Systems for 6 years prior to R&P.Art speaks with us about the differences he has encountered between working in Shanghai and working in Beijing. He refers to Beijing as “the real China” while Shanghai is more of a global city, akin to New York. Shanghai is also the location of choice that many multinationals choose to establish their base in, which means more opportunity.China has a reputation of being a very difficult country to penetrate as a foreign tech company, particularly due to its complex legal environment. Art talks about the types of businesses that succeed in the country. LinkedIn, for one, has become a mainstay in the China tech ecosystem. He also mentions that foreign enterprise SaaS companies, while often flying under the radar, have been an extremely successful category of business in China simply because they are providing products and services that are not yet widely available locally.He also explains why foreign companies do not need to fear the complex and often nebulous framework that makes up China’s corporate laws. He says that there is no need to have the “perfect” contract ready upon entering the country to do business with Chinese partners.In fact, Art says that “in China, the contract is not worth more than the paper it’s written on.” Further, a contract means nothing if the foreign company has no legal representatives or local operators on the ground. Key Quotes:“At the end of the day, you have to take risks, and you have to take them eyes wide open. It’s a big market. If you try to cover every risk, you can’t do business—here or anywhere—for that matter. There is more risk here, but you just have to accept it and cover your bases as best as you can.” “What we’re trying to give clients is a story. Nobody can perfectly comply with these laws because they’re so vague. So, what you’re trying to do is to come up with a story where you have done, as best as possible, to comply with the law, as it’s written, and as you understand it.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How the last 18 months changed the economy forever●      How things have changed in Kimberly’s line of work in China●      What happened to the global supply chain and its impact on the Chinese economy●      Moving forward in 2022 and beyond●      Maintaining business relationships in China●      How the business landscape in the region has changed overall●      How the B2B buying process has evolved throughout COVID Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Kimberly Kirkendall, founder and President at International Resource Development.We recently had Kimberly on the show in September 2020 to discuss a myriad of topics, including the art of negotiation, building relationships, and managing suppliers, as well as interpreting and navigating written procedures and policy documents. She sits down with us almost 18 months later to speak on what’s changed since that last conversation.In a nutshell, she believes that nobody should count on any semblance of the “old normal” rearing its head until at least 2024. From drastic shifts in the supply chain to the now-dead culture of on-demand travel to continued logistical issues and labor shortages, the many challenges of the new normal are here to stay for a long time.With regards to the many changes in the global supply chain over the past two years, Kimberly says that China has effectively been scrambling to stay ahead of an ongoing chain reaction. It has been particularly damaging for manufacturers who for a couple of decades had been relying on just-in-time inventory and lean supply chain and logistics.Today, building and maintaining relationships in China has become even more important than it already was prior to COVID. “You have to have trust on both sides,” stresses Kimberly. “You have to trust that they have your best interests at heart, and it’s harder to do when you can’t be face-to-face.” Partners should be mindful in their communication, taking care to feed the personal side of the relationship instead of being all business.Overall, Kimberly believes that the new normal is here to stay. Regionalization and decentralization are not going away. Geo-political tensions and the rise of hierarchical government structures will continue to develop. Concerning international trade, business, and labor, Kimberly simply says, “I don’t see us going back to where we were. I just don’t.” Key Quotes:“Companies that thought they could triage their supply chain problems, and that it was going to be six months of hiccups and they would go back to normal, that obviously hasn’t been the case. So, more and more companies are realizing that there is a new normal.” “Across Democrats and Republicans and economic divisions, the one thing that unites people in the United States right now is the threat of China. We need to have the ability to have a conversation about that, where you can actually influence somebody that what they’re reading is not true and is not all bad. It’s crazy how divisive it's gotten.” “You have to have trust on both sides. You have to trust that they have your best interests at heart—that they’re acting as a good distributor, that they’re acting as a good supplier on your behalf. And they have to trust that you’re a good customer. And it’s harder to do when you can’t be face-to-face.” “You really need to understand your market in China and how your products are used. It’s critical. [...] For foreign brands going into China, you really have to challenge your own bias and expectations, and how you judge and value what the customer—whether it’s a business or a consumer—thinks about your business, because they may have a completely different perspective in the use of it or a different value system around what makes it work.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The main thesis of The Politics of the Asia-Pacific●      The biggest evolutions in the Asia-Pacific over the last 15 years●      Relationships between countries in the Asia-Pacific●      Major non-governmental actors in the Asia-Pacific region●      How average citizens regard tensions in the region●      How the pandemic impacted politics in the region●      Often overlooked factors by the West concerning politics in the Asia-Pacific region Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Mark Williams, Chair of Political Studies at Vancouver Island University. He is the editor of The Politics of the Asia-Pacific: Triumphs, Challenges, and Threats, published by the University of Toronto Press. He previously authored a book on the politics of Indonesia titled Indonesia, Islam, and the International Political Economy: Clash or Cooperation?.Says Mark: “My road to China is through this broader prism of the politics of the Asia-Pacific.”In Politics of the Asia-Pacific, Mark discusses the so-called “East-Asian Miracle” as it was referred to by the World Bank in a 1993 publication. In that publication, it is said that the economic success of the Asia-Pacific had a 1 in 10,000 chance of occurring.This success did not come about by chance, of course; it’s by design, thanks to public officials working with government bureaucracies as well as heads of major industries to coordinate what is sometimes called a “developmental state model” for the region. This way, the government channels investment into specific industries to try to find and maximize comparative advantages rather than just leaving it entirely to market forces.Mark notes that world order is a “nebulous” concept influenced by a number of different factors such as questions of legitimacy. But certainly, one pillar of world order is the distribution of power in the international system, and that distribution of power has shifted considerably over the past decade.The dynamic between the different countries within the Asia-Pacific is characterized by “a thin degree of institutionalization”, or the delicate balance between the supreme sovereign authority of the state and the “pooling” of the sovereignty of every state for the purposes of maintaining a rules-based international order.With this in mind, China looms over the rest of the countries in the region. Mark dissects the various moving parts that contribute to tensions within the Asia-Pacific and what Western observers need to consider when discussing these tensions. He touches on the question of why the Western conception of liberal democracy may be largely incompatible in Asia, and how ASEAN can serve as a dialogue partner to find a shared purpose between every nation in the region. Key Quotes:“Back in 1993, in this World Bank publication called ‘The East-Asian Miracle’, it said that, if it was random chance, the economic success of the Asia-Pacific would have had a 1 in 10,000 chance of occurring.” “By 2050, the Chinese economy will probably be about 150% the size of the United States. This is just an unprecedented transformation and redistribution of power in the international system.” “The rise of China, and the uncertainties and anxieties that it provokes, is something that reverberates across Southeast Asia as well as Japan and South Korea.” “This is going to be the approach to working with China: Every country in the region really needs to be careful about its bilateral relations. It needs to look for these multilateral relationships where possible, and that’s not easy to do.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The dynamic between heritage brands and startups●      How consumption patterns for Chinese consumers change when purchasing abroad versus within China●      Comparing travelling Chinese consumers with travelling Western consumers●      Whether most big beauty brands need to have a dedicated travelling consumer program●      How COVID-19 has changed beauty brands and their marketing●      How the pandemic impacted retail●      Considerations regarding KOLs and KOCs●      How to market hero products versus new products●      All about VIPKid●      Addressing the “pressure cooker” environment around academic expectations Chinese parents have of their children●      Comparing the American and the Chinese school systems with regards to setting students up for success in the workforce Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Karen Raghavan, a Brand and Business Development Consultant and Growth Advisor to both heritage beauty brands and startups. She is also the Vice President of Brand Development at natural ingredient company Purissima.Karen is a member of Chief, a private network built to drive more women into positions of power and keep them there.Years ago, it was incredibly difficult for a new company to gain traction in China. Observing this, Karen set out to discover what captures the minds of Chinese consumers.She found that consumers travelled to neighboring countries such as Japan and Korea to take advantage of price differentials, while at the same time introducing new brands to friends and family back home. She also discovered that younger Chinese consumers tended to travel abroad individually while older generations tended to do so in groups.Today, eCommerce has become an indispensable avenue for the majority of brands. It is important for a company to hone their brand messaging and create compelling content that helps them stand out and attract their ideal consumer amid a sea of countless brands competing within the attention economy.Further, the barrier to entry has now been lowered, again thanks to the ease of access to eCommerce solutions. What remains to be seen is whether all of these new brands launched during the pandemic will be able to scale moving forward.Finally, Karen speaks on the “pressure cooker” environment around academic expectations Chinese parents traditionally have of their children. She also gives her thoughts on how well the American and Chinese educational systems prepare students for success in the workforce. Key Quotes:“The Chinese have a very intentional purchasing behavior, where they will research the brands at length, research the products at length, research the pricing at length, then create a list per location, per destination, and even do a group buy.” “I don’t think there needs to be a specific Chinese traveller program anymore. I believe that a lot of brands have gotten way more educated over the last few years on the China market and the Chinese consumer.” “We’re still human beings at the end of the day; so, having somebody talk me through a compelling brand story or demonstrating how a product actually could solve some of my skin problems or makeup needs—it’s hard to compare that with an Instagram ad or even somebody showing me how to do it on TikTok.” “Unless there is a structural change in how children and students enter university, that pressure cooker environment will remain.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      About Relay Video●      The typical dynamics between creative agencies and their Chinese clients●      How Relay aims to “create China’s first truly global brand”●      How roadshow videos become an IPO marketing tool for companies●      Monetizing your YouTube channel as a China vlogger in 2022●      About Jim’s upcoming app, Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Jim Fields, Founder and CEO of Relay Video, a Beijing-based creative marketing agency that specializes in creating stunning pieces of video content, both for disruptive startup businesses and large technology brands.Established in 2016, Relay Video was built on the belief that Chinese brands are the brands of the future. Relay’s mission, therefore, is to make films that tell the stories of these brands to a global audience.Jim is also a marketing consultant for the Chinese venture capital investment fund 10Fund and a mentor at Chinaccelerator.Asked about Relay’s unique thrust as a creative marketing agency in China, Jim explains that “the rush to iterate” that the market is known for comes at the expense of the brand story. “Each story is different,” says Jim. “But, the key thing is clarifying the narrative and then using that clarified narrative in a visual format that makes the company’s mission make sense to viewers.”Further, the goal is to create videos that those who do not live in China can relate to, not just on a rational level, but on an emotional one, too. To this end, Relay makes sure “to visualize not just the company but the actual landscape of China” in its films.Jim also talks about his YouTube channel, GRTR, and his experience so far as an American China vlogger in 2022. Key Quotes:“You’re starting to see brands in China that have products which are either at the same level or perhaps even surpass their counterparts in other markets. The interesting part about it is, in China, a lot of the founders of these companies are STEM graduates who know a lot about engineering and how to create a product; but, they might not know about the soft skills—storytelling, communications, PR, marketing. Especially when these companies take that step onto the global stage, many of them are lacking marketing collateral and materials that are going to tell that story—particularly in English—to a global audience.” “For a lot of folks who live outside of China, China is a complete unknown. So, when you think about film, we really have to find a way to visualize not just the company but the actual landscape of China—whether it’s things like the ease of delivery that takes place in Chinese cities or the ubiquity of mobile payments or the fact that most folks are interacting primarily with technology products on mobile as opposed to via desktop. So, we have to really find a way to encapsulate the entire landscape of China in 2022 via these films and do it in a way that someone who lives in a Western market who has never stepped foot in China can actually understand.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      China’s hockey culture versus that of America●      How China’s youth is typically introduced to hockey●      Hockey leagues and training programs available for adults in China●      Active recreational rinks in China●      A geographical layout of hockey in China●      The business of sports development in China from a Westerner’s point of view●      Chinese parents’ motivation for getting their kids involved in hockey●      Chinese hockey referees●      Hockey fans in China●      Professional hockey in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with international hockey consultant Mark Simon. He has spent 15 years as an expert in the Chinese hockey industry, from team coaching to program creation to on-the-ground operations. He has also collaborated with numerous media outlets on navigating the Chinese landscape from a marketing perspective.Mark is a key member of the leadership team for China Hockey Group, the country’s largest organization dedicated to running high-level adult and youth hockey programs both locally and on the world stage.He is also the founder of Hockey Hands, a non-profit organization teaching English and hockey to orphans, migrant children, and children with disabilities.Hockey’s popularity in China is nowhere near that of Canada or the U.S., nor is there much of a “grassroots” movement around the sport. Mark points out that the youth largely treat hockey as just another “class” rather than as a genuinely fun activity they voluntarily engage in, not to mention the fact that enrolling a child in hockey is a particularly expensive endeavor in China.Teenagers who do develop passion and demonstrable skills for hockey end up migrating elsewhere to be able to pursue their sport in a country with an established hockey scene. As for adults, ex-pats make up a large majority of local hockey players and enthusiasts as hockey remains a minor sport in China.Mark gives his thoughts on the role of guanxi in any business interaction among the Chinese, hockey and sports, in general, being no exception. He also notes the glaring lack of professional teams in the country, especially amid the pandemic, and what the future of hockey might look like going forward. Key Quotes:“There isn’t much of a hockey culture in China, unfortunately. It doesn’t enter the zone of the common person at all. It’s really only the hockey parents—the hockey families—who end up learning anything about the sport.” “In China, it’s very much about relationships—guanxi. [...] I had to learn that you can’t just be as honest as you’d like to be because, typically, Chinese people don’t want to have a confrontation.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      China’s football landscape●      Why football has a more active fanbase than basketball in China●      Grassroots football in China●      How prioritization of education over almost all else impacts sport culture in China●      The biggest football teams in China and their dynamic with fans●      Chinese football and the Chinese government●      Where Chinese football players need to improve on a tactical level●      Covering football in China as a foreign journalist●      The future of football in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Cameron Wilson, a writer on all things Chinese football published by World Soccer, The Guardian, and AFP. He is the Founding Editor of Wild East Football.Football has been “on the go” in China since 1994 but has had uneven development since its introduction. From corruption scandals to failed investments in an attempt to give local players a platform on the world stage, Cameron says that Chinese football “is in a bad place” up until today.Cameron names another issue regarding the slow growth of football in China as the lack of a grassroots system. As with other sports in the country, attempts at development very much come top-down—and so far, there has been no Yao Ming of football to inspire the youth. The relatively low interest in building the national player base is further compounded by the fact that parents continue to push education as a priority above all else.Chinese football, according to Cameron, is probably “too tactical” for their own good. That is, there is very little if any, encouragement to be creative on the pitch, as opposed to the football culture of the West.Finally, Cameron speaks on the difficulty of being able to paint a full, well-rounded picture of Chinese football as a foreign journalist, considering there is a lot of suspicion toward the foreign press.Overall, football is not dead in China, but it is developing at a snail’s pace. Now that the pandemic has further hampered the growth of the sports landscape in general, the future of Chinese football is uncertain. Key Quotes:“The U.S. has been a consistent World Cup qualifier since it was launched. So, basically, the domestic league in the U.S. has supported the national team; whereas in China, it has not had the same effect. China has only been to the World Cup once, which was in 2002, and they basically went home after three defeats and scored no goals.” “Grassroots football in China is quite unlike grassroots sports elsewhere, because there is simply a lack of people involved. [...] There is not really a casual or leisure grassroots sports system in China. Everything is based on identifying young talents at a very young age and whisking them off to an Olympic gold medal factory.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      China’s consumer PC market in the early-to-mid-90s●      Why many companies struggled in the 90s while Intel thrived●      Building the Chinese social networking app Guanxi in the early-2010s●      Co-founding mInfo, the official mobile search provider to the Beijing Olympics in 2008●      What internet marketing looked like 20 years ago and the impact of mobile in the 2000s●      The early days of eCommerce and the reasons for its dramatic growth●      What foreign VR companies should do to localize for the Chinese market●      How VR is perceived in China versus the West and why it took a long time to take off●      Where the world of VR will be in five to ten years●      What Alvin means by: “The metaverse will expand—not replace—the internet.” Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Alvin Wang Graylin, China President at HTC. Established in 1997, HTC is an award-winning developer of smart mobile, connected technology, and virtual reality products.Alvin is also the Vice President of the Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance (IVRA) and the President of the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance (VRVCA)He has almost three decades of business management experience in the tech industry, including 20 years in Greater China beginning with a Senior Management position at Intel in 1993. Prior to HTC, Alvin was a serial entrepreneur, having founded four venture-backed startups in the mobile and internet spaces, covering mobile social, adtech, search, AI, big data and digital media. Additionally, he has held $100+ million P&L roles at a number of public companies.Today, Alvin is a sought-after speaker and thought leader on the topics of VR/AR/AI in China and globally.According to Alvin, the key consideration of the Chinese government when scrutinizing foreign companies is the potential for technology transfer. It is a tit-for-tat attitude that Intel was able to abide by, resulting in a collaboration that allowed Intel to thrive while most other foreign consumer PC brands of the time failed to penetrate the market.Alvin looks back on an early career in the Chinese tech space where innovation was rampant, including his experience building the Chinese social networking app Guanxi in the early-2010s, as well as co-founding mInfo, the official mobile search provider to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.Finally, Alvin discusses his current role at HTC developing smart mobile and VR products. “In every area of this industry,” he says, “there is innovation happening.” The common thread tying these innovations together is the ever-blurring line between distinct features that make up many of today’s devices. In the near future, Alvin foresees smart mobile devices for both personal and business uses, incorporating both VR and AR technologies.Alvin concludes: “Anybody at any age can put on these devices and behave as they do in the real world.” Key Quotes:“There were tons of consumers out there, but how could we get them into this new internet and multimedia trend that’s starting to happen? One was getting the prices way down. Two was helping to take all this global content and localizing it. And three was creating low-end consumer channels that were able to reach out to all the different Tier 2, 3, 4, 5 cities that didn’t have access to computer stores at all.” “COVID has really accelerated the interest in the VR industry because people are now recognizing that you’re able to be productive and eliminate a lot of business travel. But having a video-only interaction doesn’t feel personal enough; so, VR is a good alternative to help enhance that sense of being together.” “The old internet—the 2D internet—does not go away. I actually see the Metaverse as, essentially, the internet of today expanded to interact with 3D content, and uses an immersive device—like an AR or VR device—to experience this 3D content. But at the same time, these 3D devices can be used to experience 2D content. [...] This Metaverse needs to be something that’s completely open, that anybody can get into through any device, and it needs to be at global standards to be operable across different countries and different operating systems.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Major trends across China eCommerce and consumer behavior in the past year●      Categories that are doing really well in China today●      Non-traditional categories that are on the way up●      The younger generation’s move “back to basics” and “materialism fatigue”●      Finding the keys to finding purchase motivation amid China’s “post-consumer high”●      China’s anti-monopoly policies and their long-term implications●      What digital online platforms Michael is most excited about●      The rising dominance of “information capitalism” and its implication on culture●      Bridging the in-store and the digital experience●      Why live streaming has not taken off in North America yet (and when it will) Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Michael Zakkour, founder of 5 NEW DIGITAL, an exclusive consulting organization that advises its clients on strategy, structure, implementation and transformation in the age of the digital industrial revolution - across the "5 New" - New Retail, New Technology, New Finance, New Supply Chain and New Manufacturing. He is also the author of "New Retail: Born in China, Going Global.” We look back on the past year and note the major developments across China's eCommerce and consumer behavior.Michael says, “What we’re really seeing now is a blending of the idea of, ‘What is eCommerce?’ with the idea of, ‘What is social commerce?’” He contends that this is an inevitability that was fast-forwarded as a result of the pandemic. The typical Chinese consumer now no longer sees a distinction between the two—that live streaming, AR, VR, ER, and the like are now one and the same. “It’s all becoming part of this larger-than-life, technicolor, robust experience of shopping.”He then goes into the current and rising trends in the market, which turn out to largely be the home, beauty, and kitchen industries as consumers—particularly the younger generation—have begun to embrace a “back-to-basics” lifestyle in the wake of “materialism fatigue”.Michael also does a deep dive into the question of monopolistic practices in China and how they relate to those in the U.S. He addressed the potential for decoupling, saying that it is not so much the economies of the West that we should be considering in this particular case, but the decoupling of the world of technology and information between East and West.Finally, Michael looks forward towards the retail landscape in 2022, touching on the economic and cultural impacts of what he calls “information capitalism”, China’s mastery in bridging the in-store and digital buying environments, and why live streaming is set to take the world by storm this year—even in the West. Key Quotes:“What we’re really seeing now is a blending of the idea of, ‘What is eCommerce?’ with the idea of, ‘What is social commerce?’ [...] Live streaming, VR, AR, ER—it’s all becoming part of this larger than life, technicolor, robust experience of shopping.” “Chinese companies have been far better than their Western counterparts at making digital commerce, shopping—where people are actually shopping: It’s social, it’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s robust, it’s loud, it’s colorful. It’s everything that shopping should be.” “You will find all the keys to purchase motivation in China through [their] language, culture, history, and philosophy. Over and over and over again, the brands and the retailers and the CPGs and the companies that make it in China spend the requisite time ahead of time, and are constantly looking into those core four in order to build the Chinese version of who they are.” “Are we headed to a decoupling? Now, when people talk about decoupling, they’re usually thinking about the decoupling of the economies of the West in China. But in this particular case, we’re talking about: ‘Are we heading towards the decoupling of the world of technology and information between East and West?’ That’s the big question.” “Our relationship with and the usage of technology and information, along with our relationship with the environment and sustainability, and our relationship with our government are going to be the three mega-forces that will shape the rest of this century.” “Physical retail matters and it always will. So, the question then, is, ‘How do you build a relationship between the physical and the digital worlds, and the physical and the digital experiences?’”
This episode is a look back at all of our podcast guests and the topics we covered in 2020, putting together some of our favorite moments for you into one single episode of goodness. The guests featured in this special episode are:Matt Sheehan, episode #75John Pomfret, episode #78Anne Stephensn-Yang, episode #82James McGregor, episode #83Chloé Goncalves, episode #85Charles Lavoie, episode #91Benjamin Wahl, episode #92Greg Turner, episode #93Ambassador Dominic Barton, episode #100Zak Dychtwald, episodes #101 & #102Mark Dreyer, episode #106Rui Ma, episodes #110 & #111Freddie Bacon, episodes #112 & #113Craig Smith, episode #121Gordon Houlden, #122
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Snowsports culture in China versus Japan●      Consumers in China’s snowsports industry versus the West’s●      How Burton markets and localizes snowsports in China●      Marketing snowsports as a lifestyle in China●      The evolution of retail in China and how Burton has adapted●      How to set goals and strategize for a market entry into China●      The impact of the 2022 Winter Olympics on Burton China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Craig Smith, CEO of Burton Snowboards China. Founded in 2013 in Beijing, Burton China has grown to over 40 dealerships nationwide and seven premium partner resorts.Craig started with Burton at their Tokyo office two decades prior. Regarding snowsports, Craig says that “the cultural differences in China and Japan are numerous.” One major example is Japan’s strict attention to detail as compared to China’s spontaneity and love for adventure.Likewise, consumers in the Chinese snowsports industry differ considerably from those of the Americas and Europe. For one thing, snowsports only began to explode in popularity in 2016. Also, Chinese consumers generally make most of their buying decisions based on the Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) they follow, whereas consumers in the West—particularly with regard to the sports industry—refer to magazines for the information they need.Asked about how Burton goes about their marketing snowboarding in China, Craig says that education and painting a vivid picture of the lifestyle around snowsports rather than the products and facilities themselves is key to winning consumers’ hearts. In Burton’s own words, “We’re bringing the spirit of snowboarding to the consumer 365 days a year.”Craig goes on to offer his advice to foreign companies looking to enter the Chinese market, which includes doing deep research on the cultural nuances of the market and your ideal customer, finding a local partner to help you navigate government regulations, and being prepared to move at China speed.Finally, Craig speaks on Burton’s plans for the 2022 Winter Olympics and how they aim to be a player in the Chinese government’s goal to create “300 million snowsports enthusiasts” in the country. Key Quotes:“Chinese consumers are in a very different stage of development in the snowsports industry compared to consumers in the Americas and in Europe, just because snowsports are so new—snowsports really only took off in 2016.” “The most important focus for Burton China is sharing the fun of the lifestyle around snowboarding.” “My suggestion for companies looking to enter the Chinese market is: Learn about the market first and foremost. Learn about the consumer. Learn their wants—what motivates them to engage with a brand. That takes time, and that takes a lot of patience.” “In China, government relations are extremely important. It’s difficult for foreign companies to come in and build government relations, and that’s where a local partner certainly can help.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Contemporary China through the lens of fashion and culture●      The new thinking around fashion and individuality among China’s younger generations●      China’s fashion scene today and how it differs from that of New York●      Does China have fashion icons?●      China’s urban underground scene●      The future of fashion in China Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Elsbeth van Paridon, a sinologist, journalist, and lover of China fashion, lifestyle, and urban culture. In 2018, Elsbeth founded The China Temper, a print and digital publication which “offers a gritty slash grungy look at contemporary China through a fashion-focused lens.”Aside from her work with The China Temper, Elsbeth serves as an editorial consultant at the Beijing Review, an editor at WeAr Global Magazine, and a contributor to SupChina and RADII China.“With economic development comes the development of the individual,” says Elsbeth. With regards to fashion and culture, for the longest time Chinese people as a whole have shied away from standing out from the crowd as individuals. However, in the last decade, those living in Tier 1 cities have largely shifted away from this attitude dramatically.Elsbeth gives her thoughts on the idea of individuality in the country, from the rigid conformism of Mao’s China to a new generation “caught between tradition and innovation”. She refers to the modern fashion scene itself not as “trendsetting” but as “trend-dictating”, driven by the power of the stories behind the clothes.She goes on to speak on China’s urban underground, particularly in Beijing (as she contends that “everything in Shanghai is above-ground”) and the trends that have emerged out of it, such as tattoos.Finally, Elsbeth believes that gender-fluid fashion—which unbeknownst to most actually has strong historical roots in the country—is here to stay. Key Quotes:“With economic development comes the development of the individual, and fashion is a major part of that. It is a complete reflection of what is going on in society.” “Fashion is a daily conversation between you and the world.” “I only make fashion statements. I don’t make political statements. That way, it’s quite easy to create content. I’m telling stories about China from a completely different angle. Nobody’s doing it, and it’s the ultimate soft power.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      The story behind Control Risks and how it expanded to other markets●      Defining “political risk” and its relevance to businesses in China●      Does the government move as fast as the economy and how do businesses adapt to changes in China’s regulatory landscape?●      How to do due diligence in China versus other North Asian markets●      How should political and regulatory issues be considered when approaching due diligence?●      With what types of situations can business intelligence and political and regulatory risk analysis be helpful to businesses in China? Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Rosie Hawes and Carly Ramsey of the China division of Control Risk, a global risk consultancy headquartered in London. The firm’s clients include national and multinational businesses of all sizes in all sectors, law firms, government departments, and non-governmental organizations.“Political risk,” says Carly, “is very relevant to businesses in China” due to the country’s strong drive to turn China into a modern, developed nation.  Regulations abound, therefore, to ensure that business growth in almost every sector is steering the nation toward accomplishing its various political objectives.And these political priorities, Carly continues, “are not new. Those are long-standing, multi-decade long priorities to develop China into a modern country.” Businesses should operate with this strict regulatory environment in mind by having the right people in place who can closely follow these developments and translate those observations into company action. “This is where we focus: Are you set up to manage this shift?”Rosie stresses the importance of considering the political and regulatory landscape when conducting due diligence no matter the size of your company as “any company that wants to succeed in an unfamiliar market needs to test the information that they’re being provided”, preferably via a neutral third-party. Key Quotes:“‘Political risk’ is just the risk from political decisions, political events, political actions on business. That is very relevant to businesses in China. [...] There is a strong political priority to develop China into a modern, developed nation. That means that there are political goals in almost every aspect of society.” ~Carly “Regulatory enforcement is here to stay. It will continue. And new firms and sectors will be targeted. That is just the reality now. But it’s also equally important to remember that Beijing does want the private sector to thrive—and foreign investment to thrive. But there is no hesitation now to make sure that businesses are falling in line in terms of meeting these higher-level political goals.” ~Carly “We do have to be careful to balance Chinese reporting with Western reporting because both have an element of truth and both have an element of bias. A lot of our clients are not familiar with China so the first thing they will do is Google the company and get a very limited set of information, if at all; or, something that is perhaps not fully contextualized so they really don’t understand what they’re seeing. So, a lot of what we do is trying to make sure that the broader local context is provided so that they can assess how good or bad what is being reported in the media really is.” ~Rosie “We do work with smaller firms as well. Really, any company that wants to succeed in an unfamiliar market needs to test the information that they’re being provided, and really need to understand—through a neutral third-party—the extent to which their potential supplier or their potential investment target is really trustworthy and really capable of delivering what they’re saying.” ~Rosie
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      How Singles’ Day performed relative to Jacob’s expectations●      Platforms that will gain traction at next year’s 11.11●      Notable creative or marketing tactics used at this year’s festival●      How this year’s GMV may compare to 2020s●      Whether there is still room for foreign brands going forward●      What to know about Pipl (Personal Information Protection Law)●      WPIC’s plans for Southeast Asia●      Demographic differences in China versus Southeast Asia Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Jacob Cooke who shares his observations on Singles’ Day in 2021 and how closely the festival met his expectations.In his words, how 11.11 unfolded was “almost bang on” with what Jacob anticipated, with a couple of categories “going a little bit over” and toys being the only underperformer.It was a “Tmall-dominated shopping festival” that was largely untouched by the influx of new government regulations this year which, again, Jacob expected. He predicts more platforms gaining traction at next year’s 11.11 as Walled Gardens continue to come down and cross-platform functionality increases in scope.Platforms also doubled down on live streams which had already been immensely popular in the Chinese market for some time, precisely because they know that live streams have become such an effective way to move product.In many ways, “China is starting to become comfortable in their skin,” pushing for local champions in each of the different categories. While the country had been playing catch-up as recently as a decade ago, today local brands have been dominating in the market.Finally, Jacob gives his thoughts on how companies will have to deal with the legal implications of Personal Information Protection Law, WPIC’s budding work in the Southeast Asia market, and demographic differences between the China market and that of Southeast Asia. Key Quotes:“There are a lot of misconceptions about why local brands are doing well. In a lot of cases, they have an easier time because they’re focused solely on China. Very few of them have global ambitions because the market is so large here.” “I don’t think we’re done with regulators in terms of what’s done with personal data. I think that’s actually going to be further enhanced. [...] I think that what’s happened this year [with Pipl] is that the regulators have started to take action to make people take these new laws seriously.” “eCommerce has normally been adopted by younger consumers. China’s done a really good job at making eCommerce universal.”
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Launching Founders Space in China●      Why Steve wrote Make Elephants Fly●      China’s unique (and commonly misrepresented) approach to innovation●      Mentoring Chinese vs Western entrepreneurs●      How evolving family dynamics and the Westernization of much of today’s Chinese youth influences the country’s perception towards entrepreneurship as a career path●      What Western startups need to know if they want to enter China, and what Chinese startups need to know if they want to take their business abroad●      Why Steve wrote The Five Forces That Change Everything●      Steve on whether China will win the battle for AI supremacy Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Steve Hoffman, venture investor, serial entrepreneur, and award-winning author. He is Chairman & CEO of San Francisco-based startup accelerator Founders Space, which was ranked the #1 incubator for overseas startups by Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazines.Steve remembers the moment he was first invited to establish his first Founders Space in China. This was the start of a plethora of opportunities that came his way almost overnight: That same year, Steve was simultaneously doing speaking tours, launching his incubators in other cities, and had just published his first book Make Elephants Fly. His big “break”, however, came in the form of a talk he gave for Tencent which made Steve China-famous.Steve makes the case that China’s business world is actually quite innovative, contrary to its “copycat” stereotype. In fact, he says that it is precisely due to their ability to see what’s working, and to be able to improve upon these products and adapt it to their local market, that defines China’s truly innovative spirit.Asked for his experience in mentoring Chinese entrepreneurs as a foreigner, Steve says that, in order to get the best out of a local, a mentor needs to know their limitations. Specifically, as a foreigner, Steve can only teach from the point-of-view of a Westerner. But that is okay—the Chinese entrepreneur will even appreciate that unique perspective.He then adds that a true, well-rounded business education comes when the foreign mentor collaborates with local Chinese mentors, filling each other’s gaps and complementing each other on a cultural level.The same principle applies when it comes to Western startups who are looking to enter the China market. “Entering China is tough,” says Steve, “because it’s an entirely different ecosystem.”A big part of this is culture, which is centered on relationships. Those who succeed, then, are founders who have a firm grasp of the language and culture of China. At the very least, it pays to have local partners who have an intimate understanding of this ecosystem. Key Quotes:“The reason startups work so well is, by their very nature, they are limited. They are limited in size—they only have so many founders. They are limited in money—so they have to use their resources very cleverly, forcing them to innovate. And they are limited in time—so they have to iterate really, really fast. A big corporation doesn’t have those limitations.” “[Chinese entrepreneurs] are really receptive. Chinese entrepreneurs want to succeed. They are open to ideas. And because I’m a foreigner, they’re really open to our perspective. So, I’m not going to give them the same advice that a local Chinese mentor or innovation instructor would give them. I give them advice from my culture, my background.” “[Chinese] understand that it’s not about what you wrote on the paper. It’s about your relationship with them. And it’s not just about your relationship with one person in China—the person you’re doing business with—but, it’s your relationship to all the other people in that person’s network.
Topics Discussed and Key Points:●      Problems that Axis aims to solve●      How Axis helps to develop resorts●      How is China preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics●      How Axis is preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics●      Snowsports culture and the hospitality industry in China today●      What Chinese consumers have taught Justin and the Axis team●      Building ski resorts in China versus other countries●      The development of four-seasons resorts in China●      The future of winter sports in China●      What the West can learn from China’s snowsports industry Episode Summary:Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Justin Downes, President of Axis Leisure Management, a firm comprised of hospitality, leisure and business experts specializing in winter sports, hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, retail, golf courses, tourism authorities, entertainment companies and various other establishments related to the services and hospitality industries in China.Axis was founded to address the fact that, at the time, “there [was] absolutely no expertise in the China market for building international-level ski resort destinations.” The management firm was thus established to “bring a global, high-quality standard experience across the board into the winter sports market in China.”The company prides itself not only on its ability to facilitate business management but also on the capability of its team of experts to take someone’s vision out of their head and onto paper.Listen in as Justin shares how China is preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which he says is dependent on the evolution of Chinese industry, the actual preparation and production going into the Olympic Games, and how the governing body intends to navigate COVID-19 before and during the actual Games.The lead-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics bodes well not only for the snowsports industry in China but for the country’s sports world in general. Both the public and the government have contributed to drastic growth in the health and wellness industry in recent times, and the countdown to the Olympics has only accelerated that interest and growth.Finally, Justin explains the ins and outs of developing ski resorts in China, including considerations around establishing and managing four-seasons resorts. Key Quotes:“Finding a piece of land in a remote location, in China, is quite easy. It’s really about, ‘Who’s going to come there?’ and ‘How are they going to get there?’ In some cases, the Chinese government builds fantastic infrastructure such as a rail with nothing at the end of that point, or they build a fantastic destination but no way to get there. We try to link these two components into a more organic growth solution.” “China performed a fantastic job in 2008 with the Summer Games. It’s not as if they’ve not done this type of thing before. [...] From an execution standpoint—if you take COVID out of the equation—I think China will deliver a flawless athletic experience.” “There’s been a lot of interest and pressure, both from the public-up and the government-down, to create an environment where people are healthier and happier. [...] General health and wellness in China is off-the-charts as far as opportunity and growth.”
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