The Intricacies of Selling in Japan

The Japanese are very forgiving of foreigners especially when it comes to not fully understanding all of their customs and cultures.  They prefer not to have one-on-one meetings and will wait until there can be multiple people at the business meeting.  It is important to be respectful because if you make a bad reputation for yourself, it will take a long time to change the bad image that you have made for yourself.  Through building of relationships, a company can obtain many referrals, since it is all based on trust.  Selling online to Japan is a market that is really taken off and that companies should jump on.  There are requirements to being successful in this arena.  The customer service must be impeccable.  This includes understanding what Japanese consumers want and need from their products and services.  Quality is a top priority in their decision making.  However it is also important to understand the language, so if someone speaks Japanese that would be much better.  What would be considered a harmless product in the United States could be perceived as offensive in Japanese culture, so this is something an American company must tread lightly on.  An example of this is, on Valentine’s Day chocolates and presents are given from the female to their boyfriends, husbands, etc.  But the male counterpart must wait a month until it is White Day to reciprocate the presents.  If a company fails to understand this, it could be detrimental.  Also, the different age groups can vary among how to target those markets and the customs that they hold dear.

A great resource for this topic is Market to Japan.  They provide marketing consulting to firms exploring into Japan.  Check out their website at: http://www.markettojapan.com/

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Doing Business in Japan – Intimidating and Challenging!

Doing business in Japan can be intimidating to foreigners who do not understand their culture or their business habits. This is not a barrier to doing business in Japan though. There are just a few things that a foreign business person needs to know before they travel to Japan for business. First and foremost, depending on who you are dealing with, the entire meeting may be spoken in Japanese. This may be the case, especially if you are dealing with a smaller domestic company. However, if you are in a meeting with a large company, the people you speak to will likely be fluent in English. Understanding Japanese or at least having an interpreter is definitely a plus when doing business in Japan The meetings will be very formal and there will be very little small talk as there are in American or European meetings. Sometimes these meetings can appear cold to foreign business people. The Japanese executives will politely exchange business cards, listen to your presentation while taking notes, ask some questions and leave. This has nothing to do with their interest, it’s just how they conduct meetings. One thing that can be said about Japanese culture is that it is very polite. During the meeting you will be treated in the most polite and respectful manner, so it is important that you do the same. Outside of a meeting room, the Japanese will continue their tradition of politeness by entertaining their business guests. They will often take foreign executives out to dinner even if they have no intention of doing business with them. Sometimes this can happen several times in a row and give the foreign executive the wrong impression that their Japanese hosts are interested when they are not. One aspect of the Japanese business culture that makes it more favorable than others is their sense of loyalty. If you are a trusted business partner or associate of a Japanese company, you can expect them to stand by you through good times and bad. They have a strong sense of loyalty in both their business and personal lives that is very admirable.

A great resource for this topic is Market to Japan. They provide marketing consulting to firms exploring into Japan. Check out their website at: http://www.markettojapan.com/

Thai Culture and the Intricacies of International Business

International Business in Thailand

International Business in Thailand

There are many factors that a person doing business in Thailand must pay attention to. One of the most important aspects is how you present yourself, both in appearance and behavior. They appreciate calm people and are taken off guard by people that come across as emotional. Gender is also important. You must always shake the man’s hand and just smile at a women. According to Professional Travel Guide “The traditional Thai greeting is called the wai. It consists of placing the palms together in a prayer-like position at the chest and gracefully bowing the head.” This is a critical aspect of their culture and must be only used at certain times. It is very much a hierarchical culture. A way to get an advantage to other businesses is to have a business card that has both English and Thai languages on it. Body language can tell a lot about someone. For example crossing legs in front of a high ranking person is considered rude. Another sacred part of the body is the head and should never be touched. Many people in the business world speak English in Thailand. However they will be impressed if you now a few Thai words. It is perfectly okay to talk about family, as long as it is not demeaning or negative.

It is best to get an intermediary when conducting business in Thailand, to help with all the details of your visit. Most initial meetings will be over a meal or drinks. Just keep in mind that business will not be conducted at this meeting. This is not a fast paced business environment but they are very good business people. When attending a business meal, it is important to read up on all the rules of these meetings. There are many etiquette rules that they follow and understanding them is essential to having a good meeting where you do not offend their culture.

Have you had an international business experience that could have gone better if you had researched the culture? Do you have experience conducting business in Thailand?

Selling in China, The Growing Trend!

International trade resource

International trade resource

According to the Boston Consulting Group there are “One Billion, Three Hundred Million Customers”. This is a market that so many businesses want to tap into. It is essential that businesses must learn how to target these consumers. There is a vast difference of income levels among these consumers, so this is something that must be understood. There is an economic boom that has been occurring for the past 25 years. There has been a squeeze on many of the Chinese’s budgets, so a company must offer products and services that are perceived as practical. This is not to say that they won’t look for products and services that may increase their status among their peers. This tends to happen more often in families that do not have a child. When selling in China, businesses must study the behaviors of their consumers to effectively target them. There are truly two segmented markets: consumers that are looking for low-cost valuable products and consumers that are searching for the premium products. There are many differences among the various areas in China. This means that consumer preferences and demographics are immensely different. So I say again that it is in any businesses best interest to thoroughly research their target market before selling in China. Many of these consumers are on the Internet.

A good source of information for delving into this venture is www.usccc.org/

Have you started selling in China? Are you thinking of selling in China? Let me know what your experiences were with this.

Conducting Business in China, the Challenges and the Rewards!

Business in China

Business in China

It’s important to go to some of the smaller cities, otherwise there will be fierce competition. According to Essex County Council “Guanxi, means having the right connections”. Being an outsider to China it is much harder to have Guanxi. It is important to understand the culture and adapt to the differences between the two cultures. Business practices are also different in China. Personal questions may be asked and there is no reason to get offended. This is how business is conducted in their culture. Also, it is important not to present a contract too soon, otherwise they will be offended. It is important to lightly shake the highest ranking business person first. You must remain standing and when business cards are being exchanged shake with both hands. The business card must have the writing facing up and never immediately put the business card away. Take time to look it over. Most business meetings will be spoken in Chinese. According to E-commerce Times “American corporations drawn to China’s vast market of 1.3 billion people have to be prepared to jump through some regulatory hoops and adhere to a host of government censorship codes.” As with doing business internationally, it is important to understand both the cultures and the regulations of that country. A good resource for regulations is the Department of Trade at http://trade.gov/index.asp

Have you had experiences expanding internationally? What was your learning curve?