Now that the Chinese economy is slowing, more Chinese brands are looking to go abroad. For them, success will come from taking a page from foreign brands in China who adapted their strategies by embracing local cultural nuances, according to former Ogilvy Public Relations APAC President and CEO Scott Kronick.
“The biggest problem Chinese brands face going global comes when they feel they can adopt the Chinese way of doing business, and impose their methods on the market they are entering,” said Scott Kronick, a 29-year veteran of the China public relations business with Ogilvy. Scott is now a senior advisor for Chinese tech brands ZTE and Baidu and is an adjunct professor at Beijing University’s Guanghua School of Management.
“Sometimes we won’t work on a client project if they insist on ‘my way or the highway’, because we know it won’t work. We don’t want waste anyone’s money,” said Kronick.
Scott often uses examples of successful foreign brand launches in China, including IBM and Intel, because they completely localized their teams in the early stages.
“The people matter, the understanding of the marketplace matters. You need that type of sensitivity to succeed,” said Kronick.
One of Scott’s crowning career achievements was helping to broker the acquisition of IBM’s personal computer business by the Chinese brand, Lenovo. “When the Lenovo deal went down, the company was so dedicated to globalization that the CEO moved to North Carolina in the U.S. to set up the global headquarters there,” said Kronick.
Kronick has spent his life brokering better communications understanding between China and the U.S. and admits recent tensions have made his efforts more complicated. Despite this, he remains optimistic about the future. “I feel that business between China and the U.S. that helps people be more productive or brings them joy is largely apolitical and can lead to a peaceful coexistence between the two countries,” said Kronick.
Scott Kronick’s interview is available on the Shanghai Zhan podcast, a “raw, lively, and regular debate about China tech, advertising, creativity and the intersection of it all”, hosted by Ali Kazmi and Bryce Whitwam.