Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Flooring, China & Social Media

One last post relating to China - about Flooring, China & Social Media. This time, I highlight non-flooring examples with a Chinese connection to provide innovative perspective for your flooring business domestically or abroad.  All made possible thanks to social media tools.

Here are links to my previous posts in this China series:
What got me started with the series was an AdAge article titled 20 blogs marketers to China should be reading with a wealth of information about China, a country on the other side of the globe, one I admired and have visited, but don't fully understand.  I can't speak the language other than a few words like thank you, yet love the food and fully appreciate the marketplace implications of a country so big for products like flooring. 

In my previous life in the branded residential carpet business, global didn't matter much.  Flooring, though, is global --  Jim Gould brought that point home when he described his first global experiences on the Domotex Blog -- with China perhaps an extreme, given its geographic location, example, but relevant nonetheless.

Curiosity got the better of me.  I began to wonder what I might discover from my keyboard in Northern New Jersey... and how those discoveries might be relevant to flooring.  After all, if it works for China, then the universe becomes my oyster!

For example, take this article titled Why Do The Chinese Save So Much?  Do you know why? Although the article starts out discussing interest rates it moves onto a fascinating observation.  That "an important social phenomenon is the primary driver of the high savings rate: for the last few decades China has experienced a significant imbalance between the number of male and female children born to its citizens."  Increased savings helps young Chinese men look more attractive as marriage candidates... Think of the implications for selling household items such as flooring into China. Think of the implications of similar observations for your domestic customers. 

Imagine doing as Unilever does in Unilever puts in face time with the Chinese consumer. The company's chairman for Greater China regularly spends time with consumers to experience and observe their lives. He refers to these as 'consumer connects.'  Do you regularly connect with your customers to calibrate product and marketing decisions?  Imagine how much easier this is to do in the U.S. than in China!

The lesson: pay attention to the social dynamics of your market. Look beyond the stats to find the real stories and opportunities. Observe and listen.  Walk in your customers' shoes!

Social Media And China: It's not what you think: Notes from SxSW by Jim Tobin offers perspective on the state of social media in China.  What fascinated me most: 40% of the Chinese population creates content online [vs. 21% in the US] much in reaction to a media infrastructure that isn't totally objective. The opportunities for listening and learning about consumers abound [e.g., how they refer to products; eagerness to participate in group purchasing...] especially since innovation is intensely strong in China - particulalry with respect to digital.  As the article closes "while China is known in the U.S. in part for their rampant piracy..., it's clear from the level of participation, and the monetization of that participation, that China's innovation also offers lessons for marketers in the United States and elsewhere."

The lesson: foreign locations and cultures teach you as much about that environmnent as they do about your own. Immerse yourself in foreign-ness via digital resources and social media and emerge with a new appreciation for your domestic flooring marketplace and customers.

For more onlines resources relating to China, do visit Alltop China resources - aka all the top news. [Note: you can also search on other countries of interest.]

What have been your most surprising foreign flooring experiences? What about in your domestic market? How have those shaped your business? As you have explored flooring beyond North America, what have you observed and how has that changed your domestic perceptions?

~ Christine

Christine B. Whittemore
Chief Simplifier, Simple Marketing Now


  1. Amazing resources and information. Thanks for developing this series CB.

  2. Toby,

    Thanks for your feedback. I'm so pleased you found this series helpful. I can't wait to hear how your session goes. That will definitely be worth writing about!