Tom Doctoroff, JWT's North Asia CEO and a popular China commentator, explained a typical Chinese outlook: "People don't assume they're safe. That's why Chinese are ruthless savers -- 35% to 40% of annual income -- because they have to save for a rainy day. In the upper tiers, there's more optimism that you can transform your life if you're smart enough. Mass-market consumers are starting to believe in a better tomorrow -- but this is a very precarious hope, based on nothing going wrong."
Mr. Doctoroff laid out a few rules for success in marketing in the lower tiers.
Protection trumps projection. Safety, stability and order are crucial. He cited ads for childrens' products: A spot aimed at consumers in a lower tier promotes a milk brand as protecting a child against sickness. A similar product in tier one is all about enhancement, helping a child be smarter and taller.
Conformity counts. Family comes first, and fitting into society trumps standing out. Mr. Doctoroff quoted a Chinese saying: "The leading goose gets shot down."
Bigger is better. Scale reinforces safety, and a reputable brand is used by many people. That's an advantage for a brand like Lenovo that's found everywhere, with almost 5,000 retailers in lower-tier cities, Mr. Doctoroff said.More in Adage.
Tom Doctoroff is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.
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