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Engage your Chinese Consumers Better

The Importance of Face in China

Snowpaws: Bic Brands China office cat

For as long as we have been in business in china – since 2003 – there has always been criticism and negative news circulating in western media re China. As China’s economy grew, every year we would read a story, starting from 2009 from the Economist that China’s economy was set to tank, certain to bust – a hard landing was the usual prediction.

As decades past the rhetoric changed to be more aggressive, more subjective, inaccurate to the point where China news became a clear case of political sour grapes, bitchiness and misinformation.

Today it has exploded to where heads of states and global organisations are, either from senility, ego or a fuddled grasp of reality trying to undermine Chinese society. As a case in point, a few years back Huawei produced a handset that equalled I-phone in quality at a better price point. It was a huge success.

Apple, and the west dismissed it as “just national pride” conveniently overlooking the fact that Huawei was a top seller globally. Shunting Apple from its top spot. This attitude is both insulting and patronising to Chinese people. It is also a dangerous path for the west generally and China based western businesses in particular.

Yes, Chinese are proud of their culture, their history and their nationality. Any attack or belittlement of either is seen as a direct insult to Chinese people. With so many foreign economies struggling today and so many global companies dependent on China for their bottom line, is it not a foolish idea to bite the hand that feeds?

3 years ago; June 2020, we released a post entitled: The Importance of face in China.” We are re posting it today as a refresher because insulting Chinese is tantamount to them loosing face. And that can have disastrous consequences for foreign brands in China.

Ironically, on of the many charges levelled at Huawei, Tictoc and other popular Chinese brands or APPS is their closeness the the Chinese Government. However, the recent avalanche of sanctions and restrictions imposed on Chinese business recently by western Governments and companies proves that blade cuts both ways.

What brands contemplating China need to know about face.

Maybe you have heard about FACE in China- maybe not. Maybe you have looked on in amusement and amazement as a group or couple of Chinese form a scrum at the cashier in a restaurant. A tussle to see who pays. It looks serious. It is!

In China FACE is important, the loser in the above scenario could end up looking, or believing she looks cheap and mean in the eyes of the others in the group. But this is not really unique to China, or Asia. Most humans do not like to be “made a fool of,” or be made to look foolish, or cheap. It is just that in China, this is amplified many, many times.

Certainly, the need to be flashy and, what we might think is tacky has eased as Chinese society matures. Since we began business back in 2003, we have noticed a gradual mellowing. It is no longer Tai cool la to flaunt ones wealth. However, the need to have the biggest, brightest and latest, to be first still exists in some quarters. China is an extremely competitive society. At all levels.

Face is important for foreign brands in China in many ways.

Some are obvious, some a little less so.
For example, Chinese consumers like to be wooed. Research on top of research, survey after survey has highlighted significant differences in the way consumers in the west and Asia, notably China behave.
Especially when it comes to on-line shopping.

Brands that understand Face in China will use it to build a closer relationship with their consumer. This way they personalise their marketing content. By providing more intimate offers, promotions or asking for feed back, they build the Face of their customer in the eyes of her friends. The reward for brands in increased loyalty or “stickability.” Not to mention heaving a fired up, passionate brand manager working for them!

Face, marketing, tech and social media can be a tricky minefield for brands in China, as this story from Caixin Global reflects. Perhaps one of the reasons why there is a steady strong swing to domestic or local China marketing companies these days. We know the trends and pitfalls better~

The background to this story involves frenzy around a certain Taiwan pop star who decided to build a presence on Mainland social media. Nothing wrong with that you say- true. However, it was his choice of social platform that created the commotion. Instead of using today’s today’s hot platforms, he chose one that is considered to be aimed at “lower level” city dwellers. While most fans rushed to add him, some seemed to feel slighted, or concerned about what their peers might think if they were seen to be using a “lower status” App. As in this translation:

I’m a fan of Jay Chou, but I still feel reluctant to download the app,” one user commented.

Just goes to show, you can never be too careful with Face in China!
You can read the original article, in English, here

To save your Face, and maybe bacon, in China get in touch with Everylne Yu, our China marketing guru and MarTech KOL.

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Thanks for reading our China news, marketing, tech and social media article – we hope it was useful, relative, informative, valuable.
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Not Useful?
Then perhaps you may like to chat directly and personally with Everlyne?

But please, be aware of local (China) time when calling from overseas. Despite rumours to the contrary, Everlyne is human, not a bot, she does eat, drink and sleep – sometimes.

Whatever your question re Chinese Business, Marketing Tech or Social Media, she will know the answer, or know someone who does! A brief intro below;

Introducing Everlyne YU


In 2003 Everlyne Yu co-founded WPBeijing Marketing Studio with Englishman Peter Bic, now known as Bic Brands.

She began Uengager, as a SaaS MarTech company focused on customer engagement in 2017.

Hello, Nihao, I’m Everlyne

I love to talk about and help people understand the amazing ways MarTech and SaaS can work to strengthen your business engagement with Chinese consumers.
I know you have questions or want to talk about your brand or business in China so please, drop me a line opposite. If you prefer live chat, call and talk to me live, in person direct.


Everlyne is also a key note speaker, lecturer and KOL on MarTech in China. She is CEO of Uengager, business development officer for Bicyu.

Everlyne hs been privileged to work with a variety of international organisations, from VW, Cushman Wakefield, Sodexo, Bristol Myers Squibb to local Chinese firms such as Midea, and OK Order.

If you’re looking for guidance, tips, advice on any aspect of starting or growing a business in China or training, coaching your existing China marketing team for excellence, be sure to check out Uengager. Home page and base for Everlyne Yu. Read her short bio – opposite left – or contact her direct – below – for a free, heart to heart chat.

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A selection of Bicyu clients since 2003


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B1 XlabBuilding 1, TusPark B, Tsinghua Science Park

No.1 East Zhongguancun Road,Beijing, Haidian District 100084China

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