It’s been an amazing trip in China so far! This morning we visited Kimberly Clark’s Shanghai office.
Before getting to the Kimberly Clark offices, our tour guide directed us to what he called the “Starbucks of China”, a coffee shop by the name of Luckin Coffee. I got up to the register to order my Americano (no regular coffee here!) and was promptly told the only way to order and pay was through my WeChat app. This has been a common theme of the trip...paying with cash/credit in China is the equivalent of paying with check in the states – very outdated! We all proceeded to have our tour guide order us coffee since we cannot pay through our WeChat and went on our way to the company visit coffee in hand.
We entered the building and I was immediately impressed by the design.
Slick white walls were lined with lights indicating the direction that the elevator was traveling. Very fitting for the China’s city of the future.
We made our way to Kimberly Clark’s office where we received an introduction to the company and its presence in China.
We were then taken through a case study of their diaper brand Huggies in China. Surprisingly, a study of the diaper market in China highlighted many of the nuances of doing business in China. Most interesting to me was the effects of the one child policy and the subsequent lifting of that policy. We learned that the one child policy led to increased attention placed on raising that child. Instead of two parents to a few children like I’m used to in the states...children in China were doted on by both parents and both sets of grandparents.
This meant there was an added emphasis on the quality of baby products. Now that the one child policy has been lifted, there is an increased forecast for the diaper market and there has been an influx of players flooding the market. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how fast these changes are made and how quickly firms must react here in China. In the US, big changes like this are relatively slow and can be forecasted and planned for. Here in China, the government can change a major policy at any time and those policies can have major impacts on how business is done in China.
If I had to sum up my biggest learning from this meeting, it would be this... You must be agile in when doing business in China and expect the unexpected.