Last month (26/01/2018), Lan-bridge participated in the China Britain Trade Expo 2018 (CBTE 2018) at Westminster’s QEII Centre. This, the third consecutive annual CBTE, was attended by a rich variety of delegates and speakers from China, the UK, and elsewhere. It was also the largest to date, with over 980 attendees.
CBTE 2018 proved not only to be informative for those working or looking to work cross-border between the UK and China, but also a unique opportunity to network across multiple industries and regions. A range of high-level and distinguished speakers discussed a range of topics throughout the day in sessions covering Brexit, luxury goods, marketing, art, PR, trade, and much more.
Taking place just one week before Prime Minister May’s delegation to China, and at a time when the ‘golden era’ of UK-China trade relations is regularly making headlines worldwide, the speeches and discussions held during CBTE 2018 were both practical and prescient. Amongst these speeches were three given by different members of Lan-bridge.
Michael Zhu, Founder and President of Lan-bridge: Building a business in China: From 0 to growth (‘Doing business with China’ session)
Michael spoke about Lan-bridge’s history and the greater context of the Chinese market. Having overseen his company grow from a single office in Chengdu to offices in 13 different cities, Michael’s personal story of success across multiple regions in China is of interest to anyone wanting to do business there.
He highlighted how each new office has its own story, giving examples of the early opening of Lan-bridge’s Chongqing and Beijing offices to show how unique and unpredictable each of these can be. Following on from this, he shared with the audience the key principles and lessons he has learned from him entrepreneurial experience in China, including the need to embrace rather than resist change: “Instead of just passively accepting changes every day, I believe you can also actively create changes whenever you want, and use this ability to lead your business in the direction that you want to go in.”
Kain Jagger, Sales and Marketing Manager at Lan-bridge: A Beginner’s Guide to Navigating Chinese social media
Kain gave a general overview of the Chinese social media landscape. Starting out by explaining how previous predictions of an increasingly open internet in China have proven to be wrong, he explained what alternatives had appeared on a landscape where 6 of the world’s top 10 most popular websites are either completely or partially blocked.
Kain spoke about how analogies between Western and Chinese platforms (‘WeChat = Facebook’, ‘Baidu = Google’, etc.) are only helpful sometimes – and misleading other times, and after briefly outlining the two largest platforms (WeChat and Weibo), he explained why the next crucial step for non-Chinese companies is to focus on localising content: “Most Western companies have a wealth of marketing material in their native languages already,” he said. “But simply translating this into Chinese and posting it on Chinese social media platforms is not enough.”
Marc Faltheim, Senior Advisor to Lan-bridge: Developing retail and luxury goods opportunities in Asia and China, perspectives for foreign brands (‘Luxury Travel and Market Focus’ session)
Marc was the final member of Lan-bridge to speak at CBTE 2018. Opening up the Luxury Travel and Market session of the day, Marc gave an introduction to his experiences working with luxury goods and fashion retail companies in multiple markets across the region, including Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, and elsewhere.
He offered valuable insights into the importance of strategic planning and market research for all companies looking to enter Asian markets, and highlighted practical examples of well-known companies he has previously worked with. Stressing the need to innovate and adapt in new markets, Marc offered the audience helpful reminders of what steps they should be taking before beginning their journeys.