How a Trip to China Changed My View of International Business
Posted March 25, 2019 by Christopher Burns
- Undergraduate Student - Rider University College of Business
In March 2018, I embarked on an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime journey to visit the People’s Republic of China during my university’s spring break. I was part of a group of students comprising two classes, one focused on business and the other emphasizing Chinese culture. Ten students were accompanied by two professors. The trip was a nine-day tour that took us to Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.
For the trip to qualify for college credit, students traveling were required to write a paper. A couple of months before the trip, I decided I wanted my paper to focus on how international companies market their products to Chinese consumers. As a marketing major, I knew this experience would benefit not only my studies but also my understanding of a culture that is dramatically different from the one I am familiar with in the United States. After experiencing three diverse cities within China, I was astonished by what I witnessed in the country in terms of global commerce.
During the trip, we examined the differences between the U.S. and China business operations. The experience gave me a hands-on appreciation of how businesses compete in a global environment. I saw many international companies that have established bases in China, such as Microsoft and KPMG, in addition to fast-food chains like McDonald’s and KFC, which had countless locations throughout the country. These international businesses hope to create a market within China that will be reliable for their companies for years to come.
I was impressed by the number of brands that I saw in China, such as IKEA, Louis Vuitton, and Nike. Their prominent presence showed me that they find Chinese consumers as attractive prospects for purchasing their goods and services.
Companies operating in another country must deal with numerous factors and challenges, such as competing with domestic firms and altering their offerings to reflect consumer interest. For example, international restaurants and chains do not have the same menu in a foreign country as they do in their country of origin because of cultural differences and preferences. Although this is a concept that I understood before the trip, it was amazing to witness and experience in person all of the cultural shifts within these businesses.
Before I entered China, I understood that globalism was becoming inescapable in modern times. The world is evolving as more forms of communication are connecting nations and their citizens at a faster rate than at any other moment in human history. Due to this trend, businesses are taking notice by increasing their potential in foreign markets. Examining the culture of a new region is crucial for any company interested in conducting business there. I noticed a lot of advertising in all three cities we visited, and most of their approaches focused heavily on technology. I saw companies like BMW use digital billboards to market their cars. The emphasis on digital ads reflects the sensibilities of newer generations of Chinese consumers and their passion for technology. There were also many ads that were accompanied by QR codes, which gave people passing by the incentive to scan the codes to gain new experience with that product or company. This is a strategy that all companies should use because it will give millennial consumers a reason to get interested in your brand and experience it on a platform they are immersed in.
Reflecting on what I learned during this trip, it has changed my perception of how and why international marketing is often more challenging than domestic marketing. I hope to work in businesses that have global offices because I am interested in studying international advertising tactics they employ. This trip has taught me that I must recognize how the outside world acts before working at a domestic business. Understanding a global audience is becoming just as essential as studying a domestic one. Having a solid grasp of international consumer demand is very important to any company that seeks to broaden their horizons. I hope to continue learning more about how international businesses function in multiple countries throughout my future career.
Christopher Burns is majoring in marketing with a concentration in digital marketing and a minor in business analytics at Rider University College of Business Administration. He is expected to graduate in 2020.