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China has one of the most diverse populations in the world

When planning your entry into the Chinese market, it’s important to understand the cultural milieu in China that is the “Chinese-market.”

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Doing business in China? It is more diverse than you may know

When planning your entry into the Chinese market, it’s important to understand the cultural milieu that is the “Chinese-market.” It’s easy to see China as one huge, contiguous land blob where everyone looks, thinks, talks and is the same. But that’s far from the case.

China’s ethnic diversity is vast and fairly foreign to most foreigners. In addition to boasting one of the most diverse populations, China is also home to over 50 languages. Granted, they all use the same character system, pronunciation and meaning are often different. Below are a few facts and tips in regards to this multiculturalism.

Six facts to know when seeking to do business in China

  1. There are 56 recognized ethnic minorities. Surprisingly, this figure does not include most underrepresented or self-identified groups.
  2. There’s no such thing as a “Chinese-market.” The Chinese marketplace is as diverse as the people. Each ethnic minority has their own needs and wants. Generally speaking, the print and TV marketing in China are chockful of sweeping generalities for the majority.
  3. White is right. While most Chinese value porcelain white skin, many minority groups don’t care for it. It’s difficult to find so much as a face lotion sans whiteners in China.
  4. There is a new breed of niche marketing to meet the growing demands (and bank accounts to match) for the minorities.
  5. With a window to the West, the younger generations of China are taking pride in their cultural backgrounds.
  6. Regional dialects cause many phrases and words to have different meanings, so have all print marketing proofed and checked by a native speaker.

Knowing how the Chinese view themselves and the world culturally is of utmost importance. Identifying which ethnicities are the majority/minority will not keep you in tune to your potential clients’ and customers’ needs, but it’ll also give you a great competitive advantage. If you keep these things in mind, you’re sure to increase your competitive advantage and marketing strategy.

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Written By

Monica Moffitt, founder and Principal Cultural Consultant at Tianfen Consulting, Inc., has traveled the world and enjoys linguistics and all things culture. Having split her career between project management and business analytics, Monica merges logic, fluency in Chinese and creativity in her new role as cultural consultant. She received a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies/Chinese from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Business Administration (International Management and Marketing) from University of Texas at Dallas.

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