29 January 2009

Well Prepared Market Intelligence Make Your Journey Worthwhile.

We are repeatedly being told that British companies should be active in China, looking for partners and customers and seizing the huge opportunities on offer.  But China is an enormous country with many regional differences, cultural sensitivities and a bureaucracy that, even being kind, is nothing less than cumbersome. So how do British companies make inroads into this exploding economy?  By tapping into the expertise available in this country first rather than booking the next flight to Beijing.

One company doing just that is Cadcorp, a UK based developer and marketer of software for digital mapping systems. Having distributed its products to Japan, Australia and other parts of the world for over fifteen years, the company has been working with Business Link and private company China Business Solutions to help create a clear business strategy and programme prior to entering the Chinese market.

“We had a head start when it came to looking at China but, as with any new potential market, getting vital market intelligence on aspects of business, the country and its culture was crucial before trying to make inroads. Business Link, and China Business Solutions each played important roles and between them gave us the critical in-depth knowledge we needed.”

This client contacted the DTI through Business Link in Hertfordshire to obtain a tailored market research report on China. It’s a well-travelled route for the company, which has sourced twenty-five similar reports on different parts of the world over the years.

“The reports are excellent value for money,” says the Managing Director. They are compiled by communication officers based in the country and contain useful background information on the business environment and economic profiling.

Ting Zhang advised the client on the practical considerations of doing business in the region such as IPR protection, cultural issues and contract negotiations. Her team, along with local support in China provided an in-depth report and due diligence assessments on companies and individuals the client were considering as potential partners.

“We were able to use our extensive network of contacts in China to find key information that had real business benefits for our client and which put the front end on all the other intelligence gathering activities,” says Ting

“The information provided was extremely useful and prepared the client’s team for a first fact finding visit to China, in July 2004,” added the Managing Director.

After the initial weeklong visit to Beijing, Ting’s team was again retained to carry out further market research and advise on competitor activity in China. The results were very detailed and according to the client, better than they had obtained during their own fact-finding trip.

Having made full use of the services Business Link offers, combined with the ‘hands on’ expertise provided by China Business Solutions, the client now believe they have sufficient knowledge of China to make their first foray into the market.

“I am very hopeful that 2006 will be the year we sign our first deal,” says the Managing Director. “And the support we’ve received from Business Link and the expert advice from China Business Solutions has been hugely important. Between them they’ve supplied us with an enormous amount of intelligence on the market and information on cultural sensitivities as well as the nuts and bolts of how to create business relationships.

“We’ve discovered, for example, how important it is to undertake business face to face and that Chinese business people like to build up personal relationships.  They like to feel they are dealing with people rather than job titles.  So be prepared for some personal questioning, it’s all part of creating a friendly and successful business relationship.”