The recent China International Consumer Products Exhibition has attracted a number of foreign companies from light industry to China. For these companies, the exhibition is the perfect opportunity to promote their brands, but they still face many challenges within the Chinese market.
Light industry is usually less capital intensive than heavy industry and is more consumer-oriented. In recent years, more overseas brands from light industry have entered the Chinese market.
The French ARC International is one of the world leaders in tableware. The corporation established its own factory in Nanjing, east China's Zhejiang province in 2003. Zhang Benjun, the Supply Operation director, explains why his company came to China.
"Compared with Europe and France, the per capita consumption on glassware each year is quite low, so the Chinese market is vast with a huge population. We want to bring more high quality artistic products to China."
Zhang mentions that the per capita consumption on glassware in Europe each year stands at more than 50kg, but in China it amounts to less than 5kg. In addition, glassware manufacturing in national factories is in its initial stages in comparison to international glassware factories.
Despite its market advantages, ARC International still faces many problems in the Chinese glassware market.
"First, the problem for our company is the level of competition among talented staff. Private enterprises often recruit staff from our office. And secondly, our artistic glassware products often set the trend within the Chinese market but our designs can be easily replicated. So the way for us to avoid such issues is to keep creating new designs and leading the way in terms of technological advantage."
Zhao Enze is the president of MJRC, the company which introduces international bicycle brands to China. He says that the image of a company's brand is more important than making money.
"If you are a brand owner, you should not think about how much money you will earn at first. Many overseas brands are very popular in the rest of the world but not in China. So some famous international brands don't want to lose their place in China."
As far as Zhao is concerned, the bicycle brands that he introduces to the market have little fame and little market share in China. However, Zhao says he not only introduces international bicycle brands to China, he also brings new ideas to Chinese consumers who are bike enthusiasts.
"Wearing a safety helmet is an important rule to follow when riding a bike, but Chinese people often don't care. But one of the brands I introduced informs people how to ride safely; meanwhile, this brand has made some special design modifications for Asian people, which means the bikes are quite different from those which only fit Europeans."
Zhao adds that foreign companies entering the Chinese market should not only pay attention to brand image, they should also adapt to the local conditions.