Rule the roost with great guanxi

Lunar New Year (commonly called Chinese New Year) is one of the oldest and most important traditions in Asian culture. On the 28th of January, 2017 celebrations will come to a crescendo as we enter the ostentatious ‘Year of The Rooster’. This is tenth sign of the Chinese zodiac, and the rooster is generally said to be loyal, sociable and friendly (albeit, a little bossy). While celebrations go on for several weeks, the Lunar New Year period is typically a time when Chinese and other East Asian families come together with their family and friends to honour traditions, to enjoy each other’s company and to hope for a bright future.

In the spirit of togetherness and unity with our Chinese friends, as well as greater understanding, this MultiConnexions blog shines a light on Chinese culture, and ‘Guanxi’ in particular.

So what is guanxi? Pronounced ‘gwan shee’, the word loosely translates to ‘good social connections’ and it is an ideal that is very important in China, especially as a means of doing business. It is not an exclusively Chinese concept, as similar concepts exist throughout much of Asia (and even around the world). In Japan it is called ‘Wa’, in Korea it is called ‘Inhwa’, in Russia – ‘Blat’, in Arabic – ‘Wasta’ and so on.

In China, these important social connections are often absolutely required to achieve business goals. And while having guanxi alone will not necessarily help a businessperson to sell more units of their product, or run their business more profitably, someone who does not have any guanxi at all will be at a distinct disadvantage.

What better time to develop and enhance your guanxi than during the Lunar New Year – a time when people are relaxed and happy?

Australian marketers and brands who want to achieve great success with Chinese audiences will need to adjust their thinking and accommodate cultural differences. Relationships are truly at the heart of business in China, and much of Asia. This is much more so than in Western culture, where business people may sometimes tend to be more comfortable doing business with unknown companies, brands, or providers than our Chinese counterparts.

There are an estimated one million plus Chinese in Australia (by ancestry) and Chinese are among the fastest growing Diasporas here. Chinese tend to have different purchasing tendencies, and this presents a challenge for brands to create and adopt new touch points and platforms of reach.

Fortunately, there are many fantastic opportunities for brands to align with Lunar New Year, and the Year of the Rooster to connect with Chinese audiences. This is a time when many Chinese are extremely receptive to a brand or company that genuinely taps into the spirit of the season. It really presents an excellent opportunity to create an authentic and lasting relationship. It is a time for family reunions, to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new with rituals and traditions to bring good fortune for a strong harvest, wealth, happiness and health. As such, banking (savings plans, investments) and healthcare (insurance, diet plans) can tie in quite nicely.

But Lunar New Year is not the only time of year when brands should be connecting with this highly lucrative and growing audience. Cultural diversity needs to be part of a brand’s DNA, and tokenistic gestures will not be enough to maintain great guanxi with your customers.

In summary – don’t ‘chicken’ out in the Year of the Rooster. Don’t put all your ‘eggs’ in the Chinese New Year basket. Move your brand forward to develop a winning Chinese-audience strategy and you could really ‘rule the roost’.

By Katrina Hall
MCX PR Manager
A fluent Mandarin speaker and a proud Australian with Scandinavian and Irish ancestry who loves travelling 

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