From Guanxi to Global Marketing: What I Learned in China, Part Two

by Katie Essner on June 21, 2010

By Katie Essner

This is a two-part blog reflecting on a trip to Shanghai, Xi’an and Beijing, China, with St. Bonaventure’s integrated marketing communications and business administration graduate students.

One of the most interesting parts of my trip to China was to see how a communist country markets itself to the rest of the world.  The advertising and marketing I saw seemed to revolve around the same consistent message: China is a harmonious place to live. This was surprising at first, but once put in perspective seemed fitting. China considers itself the middle kingdom between heaven and earth, so to create an image of peace for the outside world is appropriate.

Over the last three years China has hosted major world events emphasizing the message of harmony.  They held the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and this summer Shanghai is hosting the World Expo. For the Beijing Olympics, the theme was “One World, One Dream” and “Better City, Better Life” was chosen for the World Expo. The idea of putting behind individual wants and needs for the greater good helps emphasize China’s message of harmony.  We heard this message many times from speakers and even in the ladies room where a sign said to conserve water for the good of China. It was nice to see consistency in their message and that they have carried out the concept beyond advertising.

We were told many times China does not want disputes with other countries, but instead would like to continue growing and achieve their goal of prosperity.  In order to do this, China must promote their country’s image in a positive light. China is fairly new to the marketing world, but is becoming more sophisticated with their work. Almost all billboards and ads had an English translation and I found their advertising to be more refined than I expected.

Overall, China was an extraordinary country to visit. Their ways of business, marketing and advertising are much different than our own and it was incredible to experience it first hand.  I encourage anyone interested in China’s culture or business to visit the country. If there’s anything you’d like to know about China or my visit, feel free to ask in the comment section and I’ll be more than happy to answer.