Category Archives: china

China : Factory to Studio?

Read my assessment of China’s  prospects of moving from being a factory for cheap goods (and  code) to becoming an origin point for new products, designs and business models.

http://www.ddb.com/yellowpapers/

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The Wisdom of Imitation

No supply issues on the Iphone 4G in China. The new Iphone 4G is already out in China. The cloned one, that is.

It is easy to complain about the cheap knock-offs which Chinese factories keep churning out. Perhaps there is a bit more behind it than the desire to make a quick buck.

The term “Shanzai” and ‘Shanzaism”, often used for such products, although literally meaning “Mountain Village or Stronghold” today symbolizes anything that imitates something famous. According to Li Zonggui, a professor at Sun Yat-Sen University in south China’s Guangdong Province, Shanzhai represents non-mainstream ideas and innovations, and is also a new way for common people to express what they want.

Well maybe there is also a  connection between this imitation streak and Confucius philosophy, if one goes by the quote below.

On a cheeky note..maybe the Chinese authorities can use this philosophical under-pinning to explain this culture of imitation to the Western trade representatives, next time the issue of IP protection is raised.

“Green” pickings for P&G, Unilever, Reckitt ?

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Coke has just bought a minority stake in Innocent Smoothies. Before that it was Glaceau Mineral water in 2007. Further, the $2bn proposed acquisition of China’s biggest juice maker Huiyuan will also most likely come through. While Pepsi was off the blocks earlier with Tropicana and Gatorade, Coke’s non carbonated beverage portfolio is clearly looking more sparkling now.

The  beverage giants are nicely rounding off their portfolios with the “healthier” offers.  I wonder why we haven’t seen similar activity in the cleaning products category. We have 2 “green” brands in the category which have been growing their business, profile and footprint over the last 3-4 years : ECOVER and METHOD. ECOVER is almost 30 years old, is Belgium based,  available in 26 countries, growing at 20%+ and will do $100mn+ revenue in 2008. METHOD is only available in US, UK, Canada and Australia. It has private equity backing.

Both brands offer a full range of cleaning products- laundry, household, dish, personal wash- plus  air care products. Both are premium priced and my guess is margins are also higher vs the leading brands. Either of these will be a great buy for P&G, Unilever or Reckitt. The capital infusion and distribution muscle will help immensely. Volume and margins will almost definitely be net incremental plus retailers will love the premium price ( they have already seen the magic with Organic food ranges) and extra margins.  

This is a Win-Win for everyone : company, retailers, consumers and the environment. I am sure the investment bankers have been exploring. Don’t be surprised if you hear of it sometime in the near future.

I love L’Occitane.

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I love the products and the packaging. I love the retail experience and marketing. I love the story. I love my latest (and most expensive ever) £12 shower gel. I loathe the thought that L’Oreal will buy the company sooner or later.

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Customer Service, Chinese style.

china-passport-control.jpgAnother flight, another blog. I have been wanting to post this one for sometime now. Immigration officers world over are known for their surly attitude. Russia and India will perhaps vie for top honors here. With the Olympics approaching China is polishing up its act. The immigration counters at Beijing airport have an instant customer feedback mechanism in place, since at least April.

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