China Diary: The VongKong – Lost in Translation


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Coming to work in China from Canada,
with a Western point of view and a developed world's sensibilities
have proven interesting and sometimes challenging.

In my personal experience, the most
shocking part is the lack of openness to Western culture many regions
of China face. I was sitting in a product development meeting with
my colleagues and was telling an anecdote about Spider-Man expecting
that they would be able to relate however I was met with mainly blank
stares and if I could draw cartoon question marks over their heads, I
would have. Only recently have the Spider-Man movies from Marvel
been released in the Mainland however they did not grow up with the
cartoon and comics like we did in the West. Every year the Mainland
has a strict quota on the amount of foreign films and content it
shows in it's movie theatres and TV stations. So the irony is that
the largest emerging market in the world with the world's largest
audience and consumers lags behind in brand recognition and awareness
of certain brands we would consider evergreens in Western society.

Another examples is when I was at the
major consumer products show in Shanghai, I expected to see a lot
more licensed properties at the show but there were very few branded
statements. Instead it was a show to walk for great sourcing
opportunities and generic product.

This is an extremely important point
for me as I often have to evaluate potential properties for licensing
or distribution opportunities. While I have my experience with
certain brand and their heritage from the West, all that knowledge
gets tossed out the window and you have to start again to find out
what kind of penetration a brand has in the China market. The toy
industry is just being developed in domestic Mainland with less than
a decade of history. This was one of the most difficult things to
adapt to in my new life working over here.

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