China is so important to the global toy industry and change is ocurring so rapidly there; that I am delighted to introduce Jacqueline Vong. Jacqueline will be providing us with her experiences and insights on doing business in China.
Hong Kong based, Jacqueline Vong is a first generation
Canadian (her parents are natives of Shanghai and Hong Kong), currently
exploring a passion-fuelled adventure working abroad in the mainland China
market, with a Western twist! She began her career in 2003 at Spin Master
toys and has continued throughout the last decade to specialize her skill set
in children’s entertainment and consumer products through positions with such
global organizations as Nelvana Enterprises and Mattel Canada. Following a
lifelong love of the toy and licensing business, recently she expanded her
professional realm to a managerial role leading marketing, product development
and licensing with Hong Kong-based King Bee Toys
focused on the China market.
A fervent writer, Jacqueline is a frequent contributor
to a variety of publications worldwide, including the Huffington Post
Canada, The Travel Presse and Fusia Magazine.
She is a self-proclaimed fanatical foodie, and shares her exploration of edible
delights through posts on her blog the Vong Choice; whilst continuing
commentary regarding her newfound life in Hong Kong vis-a-vis her sister publication the VongKong. Jacqueline will be keeping Global Toy News readers abreast of her life in Hong Kong and China.
was my dream to work abroad and gain international experience in a market that
was rich in history, culture and language.
My dream came true when I got the opportunity to move from my home town
of Toronto, Canada to Hong Kong and challenged to build our business in the
emerging China market in the toy industry.
China is the largest market in the world in terms of population at
approximately 1.3B people and my objective is to attempt to reach and sell
consumer products and toys to the 800M households with children in this
emerging market. To be able to even
penetrate a fraction of this market would be a bigger opportunity than I had in
my previous life!
background from my various roles of sales, marketing, and business development
could not prepare me for the obstacles and hurdles that I had ahead of me. China is a very complicated market full of
specific nuances, ingrained traditional values and customs and behaviours that
you cannot study or read about beforehand; you must experience and see firsthand. Also there is not a set way to do anything,
it changes almost every day and I consider myself a student everyday learning
as much as I can as well as adapting to the ever changing fast pace of this
example of a foreign custom is the culture of an afternoon nap after lunch at
your desk that is commonplace amongst workers in China. They bring neck pillows/ eye masks and ear
buds and sleep for half an hour to an hour at their desk before they begin to
work again. This is mandatory rest for
them and something that they have been practising for many years.
retail landscape is less sophisticated in China as there are not many key
accounts that have centralized buying offices.
China's toy retail is mainly made up of distributors who manage the
different regions and smaller shops in those areas. As a new
company emerging into China, we have
spent a lot of time developing relationships with distributors one by one. In my last 8 months, I have covered a lot of
ground in the Mainland going from the south to the north and even those
regional behaviours and buying patterns are different from each other.
end up doing most of your business meetings and key discussions in China over
cups of hot tea (cha) or in the evening over a large banquet style Chinese
dinner with many traditional dishes from the regions including greens or
meats/seafood specific to the area.
There are some offices that I have traveled to that do not have heat
(during the winter months) so you are sitting in your winter parkas and toques
shivering while doing business; or offices that do not use air conditioning
during the hot summer months as sweat is dripping down your face all to
conserve energy and of course save money.
despite all these hardships and many more, with diligence you can make progress
in the market and so my adventure continues.