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Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer Hardcover – 27 Jan 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (27 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403971692
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403971692
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,334,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Successful branding requires creating a cultural connection with consumers, but how do you create that connection with a culture that differs greatly from the culture most brand strategies have targeted in the past?...The answers for everyone else are revealingly described in this book.' - Roger Blackwell, co-author, Brands That Rock and Customers Rule

'Billions will be a big help to executives trying to understand their millions of new customers in China. Readers will discover Chinese culture on the road to learning about marketing in China. Tom Doctoroff makes the mysteries of the China market accessible.' - Robyn Meredith, Senior Editor, Asia, Forbes Magazine, Hong Kong

'Mr Doctoroff's book sheds much-needed light on the differences between Chinese and Western cultural preferences, and should be of interest to businessmen and general readers alike. Most importantly, his observations should help multinational companies understand their target audience, and enable them to market their brands more effectively to China's hungry consumers.' - The Wall Street Journal

'Vintage Tom. A high energy New Yorker in Shanghai with a crescendo of opinions, observations, insights and assertions. Vintage China, too. A mass of contradictions and surprises. But to the open-minded, one of life's great experiences is living in Shanghai in this glorious period. This book brings out the vividness of the moment with astute observations for the future, developed through Tom's unique perspective on what makes Chinese customers tick.' - Alan Brown, Chairman, Unilever China

'I read Billions and found it extremely insightful and thought-provoking for companies developing their strategy of profiting form China, a giant marketing opportunity.' - Ed Marra, Global Executive Vice President, Strategic Business Units, Marketing Nestlé

'The best psycho-analysis of Chinese consumers I have ever read.' - China Economic Review

'Billions provides a fascinating insight into the fast changing business and social environments in today's China. If you are operating in the Chinese market or wish to join the 'gold rush' this book is a must-read. Doctoroff has managed to capture underlying trends and influences, which means that, unlike standard business guides on China, this book will not be out of date in 6 months. This contribution to the understanding of the Chinese population will add real value to marketers and advertisers everywhere.' - Alan Main, Vice President &Region Head - Asia Pacific, Bayer Consumer Care Division

'Successful branding requires creating a cultural connection with consumers, but how do you create that connection with a culture that differs greatly from the culture most brand strategies have targeted in the past? The Rolling Stones did it on their Forty Licks Tour and the answers for everyone else are revealingly described in this book.' - Roger Blackwell, Professor of Marketing, Fisher College of Business and Co-author, Brands That Rock

'Billions will be a big help to executives trying to understand their millions of new customers in China. Readers will discover Chinese culture on the road to learning about marketing in China. Tom Doctoroff makes the mysteries of the China market accessible.' - Robyn Meredith, Senior Editor, Asia, Forbes Magazine, Hong Kong

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

TOM DOCTOROFF is Greater China CEO for J. Walter Thompson, one of the region's largest advertising agencies. In the last eleven years, he has partnered with over fifty PRC clients, both multinational and domestic (e.g. Unilever, Ford, Kraft, Shell, HSBC and China Mobile). He is Asia Pacific's leading speaker on Chinese marketing, advertising and corporate culture. He maintains a very active lecture schedule, addressing an audience of 10,000-15,000 people every year. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Sep 2006
Format: Hardcover
Confucius, Daoism, Communism, Industrialization, Urbanization, One-Child Families, Great Leap Forward, Education and Profit Is Good: What do these themes mean for those who wish to sell in China? They are all important influences which you need to understand. Each Chinese consumer is uniquely influenced by the combination. The result includes some pretty interesting apparent contradictions such as prudishness about sex in advertising in a country where sexual trade is wide open at the street level.

In this insightful book, JWT Greater China CEO, Tom Doctoroff explains those influences and how they operate today. That's just the beginning.

From there, he shows you case history after case history of how global and Chinese companies have done well and poorly in acknowledging those influences. I found seeing the actual advertisements to be extremely helpful in understanding the book's points.

If that weren't enough, Mr. Doctoroff goes on to provide excellent perspectives into management challenges of properly serving 1.3 billion consumers in China.

Most books about China are filled with glittering generalities that leave you just as uninformed as you were when you started. Through careful description, segmentation and exposition of specific marketing challenges, Billions makes you feel as at home in China as you would feel in marketing a new video game to American teens.
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Format: Hardcover
You can find an abundance of books about doing business in China. This one, however, takes a rare approach. Ad expert Tom Doctoroff confines his commentary (for the most part) to a subject he has the expertise to address - advertising - although he tends to generalize a bit about Chinese history and philosophy. He offers evidence and examples from both successful and unsuccessful ad campaigns to support his assertions about what will work if you want to build your brand in China. We find that this short book offers interesting perspectives on the Chinese consumer market, while it also provides a refresher course on the main principles of advertising and brand building in any market, whether it be East or West.
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By China executive on 5 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
While 'Billions' might have been accurate and up to date when first released, my practical experiences today are markedly from the author's observations. In short: While the insights provided are interesting and often fascinating, the book is unfortunately no longer able to provide correct and authoritative answers to the key issues related to advertising and marketing in China.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The book understands us 8 Jan 2006
By zhangmin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am a local Chinese living in Beijing and work in a Korean company that manufacturers and markets consumer electronics. Most foreigners don't understand us and think they are better than Chinese. That causes big mistakes! Remember the time Nike ads got banned??? :-) But the author really knows Chinese people (its scary) and even seems as to admire us. This book is very perceptive it's hard to believe a loawai wrote it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Insights 7 Jan 2006
By Allan Druston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Standing in the bookstore, the jacket of this book caught my eye, so I decided to thumb through it and then buy it. I have an interest in China, largely because I see the country as a very important part of all of our futures. Still, I know very little about China. So, I wondered whether "Billions" would be accessible to me. Boy, was it! To my great surprise, a book on consumer marketing opened my eyes to, and brought to life, an entire culture that, as Mr. Doctoroff describes it, is both utterly foreign and worthy of great respect. The book is sharply written. It is also quite lively. Looking through the prism of advertising, one through which all readers can gaze (given that we are exposed the medium on a daily basis), China comes alive. We see how its history, religion, values and psychology are all profoundly different than our own. The thing that comes across most clearly is that, while Chinese want to be modern and successful, they definitely don't want to be western. They value their own rich culture too much. Certainly, advertisers hawking their wares in China will be at a loss if they forget this lesson (or ignore this book). But, so too will politicians, diplomats and anyone else who endeavors to interact with or understand the Chinese. In writing this book, Mr. Doctoroff has provided truly a valuable service. Of course, he gives us a basic but far reaching tutorial on advertising, one that unlocks many of the profession's secrets. (The lessons Mr. Doctoroff has learned from his lengthy tenure as an advertising executive in China literally spew forth from the book's pages, albeit in a way that is quite digestable.) But in treating China as the next vital frontier, in allowing us to understand the mysteries of this distant but omnipresent land, Mr. Doctoroff allows us to better grapple with the challenges and opportunities ahead. I loved this book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The New Frontier 12 Jan 2006
By Millie Van Deusen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The marketing universe described in Doctoroff's book seems both familiar to Americans (its size, scale and ambitiousness) and utterly foreign. Its Confucian view of the world is brought home with a series of insights that can be used to build a strong brand. One that I particularly liked described how American mothers want their babies to grow bigger, faster, taller. In a bit of marketing mumbo jumbo, Doctoroff calls this "transformational benefits." Chinese mothers, on the other hand, are more concerned about the dangers of the world and therefore seem immunity and other "protective" benefits. This is just one example and there are loads more.

Doctoroff's analyses of many "sub" markets -- youth, men, women -- are pretty fascinating and eye opening. Almost like a parallel universe. The middle section is probably the least accessible to non-marketing types but the rest of the book is surprisingly accessible and easy to understand.

A really good -- even fun -- read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Generalizations or Truth? 22 Jan 2006
By Marketing Whiz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've been amused by Doctoroff's blog blitz. His team hit the blogosphere with 12 'Facts' about the 'Confucian Consumer.' Obviously, given our aversion to cultural generalizations, he was bound to step into some doo doo. Many of his conclusions were maligned.

I thought, however, they had the ring of truth and ordered the book. "Billions," contrary to some complaints, doesn't claim that there 1.3 billions consumers march in unison. The first several chapters cover different market segments. But the book is pretty clear in arguing that a "Chinese worldview" does exist and, what's more, is relevant when marketing Western goods in China. (Don't Western values reflect a "Christian Worldview," despite the fact that many of us are lapsed church goers.?) The insights Doctoroff reveal are, I think, pretty compelling and are rooted in Confucianism and Daoism. Doctoroff has actually written a deceptively important book.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Chinese consumers tell us a lot about the Chinese; here's everything you need to know about those consumers 26 Jan 2006
By Jesse Kornbluth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As I write, Google has just announced that it will censor Internet searches in order to gain entry to China, the fastest-growing Internet market on the planet.

Many Americans are shocked --- just as they were shocked when Microsoft and Yahoo agreed to similar restrictions.

On another day, you could count on me to be shocked and dismayed. I'm not. That's because I've just read 'Billions.' And I now understand something that liberty-loving Americans don't: Individual freedom is just not that important to most of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. They are still living according to the codes of Confucius, who died 2500 years ago. And while they may not hold to Confucian beliefs for another 2500 years, they are not abandoning them any time soon.

But isn't China the fourth largest economy in the world? Isn't China an enormous shopping and manufacturing mall, home of the labels in your shirt and the parts in your hard drive? Isn't the Chinese middle class growing as if it's on steroids? Isn't China, in short, very much like America when we were in a great growth spurt?

Yes to all but the last question. And that's where the China story gets really interesting. The Chinese may be anxious to bankroll the America dollar, they may be thrilled to do business with us, but they are not like us in very fundamental ways.

Tom Doctoroff, head of an American advertising agency's China division, studies the Chinese market to see how products are sold and how they might be sold better. Those who think advertising is just a matter of inventing clever phrases and making eye-catching commercials have a big surprise in store for them --- the key to success is insight. Deep sociological insight.

Another Amazon reviewer has described this as 'a deceptively insightful book.' Just so. It's not what you'd expect from an advertising exec. Or, for that matter, from a sociologist. Instead, it's the work of a world-class cultural reporter, who assembles a thousand interesting facts and then fits them into a conclusion that's the furthest thing from a slogan or easy truism. In the process, he delivers --- almost as an afterthought --- the best look at Chinese life I've seen in years.

Consider: Successful Chinese buy Buicks, a brand all but dead here. They prefer the Audi to the Mercedes. They almost went nuts when Toyota made a commercial showing Chinese stone lions bowing to the Japanese car. They like SUVs, especially the Lincoln Navigator, which is called 'The President' in China. They adore Montblanc pens, but mostly for the way others can see the white star when the pen is in your pocket.

Did you know there are at least 150 manufacturers of air-conditioners in China and what that says about Chinese industry? Do you understand why the airports look great, but are, in essence, made of tin foil-covered cardboard? Do you grasp why there are sex shops all over the place but no sex in Chinese advertising? Why Chinese TV shows are anything but reality-based? How a local brand can wipe out a multi-national giant? And how the Beijing Olympics in 2008 are 'the most ambitious brand-building exercise in history'?

Doctoroff has fascinating answers for those questions and more. But most valuable of all, he explains the schizophrenia at the heart of middle-class life in China --- the split between Confucian allegiance to order and rank and targeted ambition on one hand, and raw Westernized individualism on the other. How will it resolve? It may not. As Doctoroff reminds us, the Communist party is still the biggest brand in China.

From shampoos sold to the poor in rural villages to luxury cars and fancy apartments in Shanghai, Tom Doctoroff covers it all. His book is like a visit to China with an excellent guide --- just without lung-burning pollution and street-vendors trying to sell you the latest DVDs. If you're at all interested in China, are thinking of traveling there or are contemplating doing business with the Chinese, this book is required reading
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