Innovation That Matters

6th SME China Forum

6 things you should know to navigate the China journey with confidence


We have collated six key takeaways that emerged from the 6th SME China Forum 2018, the leading national event supporting UK small and medium sized enterprises to trade with China.

With China accounting for 42 percent of the world’s e-commerce economy and 21 percent of the global R&D spending, businesses with serious ambitions cannot ignore the opportunity which China represents.

Organised by the China-Britain Business Council, the 6th SME China Forum offered a broad range of practical advice for any company new to China or expanding in this market. We have summarised the day into six key takeaways to help you prepare for your China journey and gain a competitive edge.

Understand the market: As China shifts to a more consumer-driven economy, the market is changing at an increasingly fast pace. If you are thinking about exporting, do not rush and get knowledgeable on what makes your product unique and suitable to the new Chinese consumer. The country has many cultural differences around regions, therefore it is very important to understand who can ally with your culture.

Protect your brand: China still has huge IP infringement issues, hence it is strongly recommended to register a trademark no matter what phase your business is in. There is a growing number of agencies offering professional advice, so speak to the experts and find a trusted local partner to help you through the lengthy legal procedures.

Embrace flexibility: China is going through very fast changing regulations, with the government aiming to achieve 60 percent of their planned 6.5 percent GDP growth from breakthroughs in innovation. Companies wanting to enter the Chinese market must be agile in their approach, understanding technology needs and gaining insight into the local legislation.

Capitalise on provenance and ethics: In recent years, China has been rocked by a string of product safety scandals. This has pushed the Chinese consumers to become increasingly skeptical and concerned about the origin of goods. Foreign brands focusing on ethics will work very well especially in the areas of luxury, wellbeing and the health sector.

Localise your brand’s online presence: China accounts for 42 percent of the global e-commerce, therefore understanding the digital consumer is essential for online business success. Explore the must-have social media platforms (WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, TicToc, Red to name a few) and make your content relevant, planning your sales cycle according to key Chinese events and celebrations.

Offer alternative payments: China has a vast array of alternative payment methods with an increasing number of purchases made using QR codes. Companies wanting to trade in or with China must embrace e-wallets, which have the advantage of helping consumers to pay in the local currency as they automatically process the conversion.