Before coming here, I – like many Americans – had a few stereotypes about China. I thought Chinese people loved to eat fortune cookies, preferred Eastern culture over Western culture, and had a technology infrastructure that was underdeveloped compared to America’s.
However, these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. Practically no Chinese restaurants serve fortune cookies – when I asked one of my Beida language buddies about it, they laughed at me – and many of them really love Western culture! In fact, I met two Chinese girls who found each other through translating episodes of Sherlock into Chinese for online consumption. :O
And beyond that, the technology infrastructure here is BOOMING. In America, people are more likely to have access to cable or Netflix than a smartphone. However, here in China, smartphone penetration reaches into some of the poorest communities in the country – areas which are far poorer than America’s poorest areas.
Why is that? Mainly because in China, smartphones are more of a way of life than they’ll be for years in America, if not decades. In just one smartphone app (WeChat), you can schedule your next doctor’s appointment, pay for literally any service in the country, apply for a visa and pay off your parking tickets.
The IMC class I’ve been taking here has helped me realize that China is not looking to America for future technology – in fact, it’s America trying to catch up to China! This makes marketing so fascinating here, as you have a combination of tech-obsessed people in China with marketers using big data to target each consumer individually. When you add onto that the notion that Chinese people haven’t been exposed to in-depth marketing for more than a couple of generations, as private corporations didn’t exist in China until very recently, and it makes for an incredibly intriguing advertising climate. I honestly feel I’ve learned more about catering to your target market here in China than I have through all of my advertising classes so far!