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What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism and the Modern Chinese Consumer by [Doctoroff, Tom]
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What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism and the Modern Chinese Consumer Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 272 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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"Brilliantly written, colourful, witty and well signposted, so that readers know the lessons they are meant to draw from each chapter before moving on to the next one." - Financial Times (selected as one of the best 'Business and Economics' books of the year so far) 

"A fascinating account of the new Chinese consumerism, written with great verve and sparkling with real gems of insight. Bookstore shelves currently groan under the weight of books aimed at those hoping to crack this huge and growing market, but Doctoroff's really stands out." - British Airways Business:Life
"An invaluable primer on the culture and buying patterns of the Chinese." - Fortune

Book Description

A look at contemporary Chinese consumer behaviour, how its cultural influences separate it from the West and how marketers and businesses can harness the natural strengths to succeed there

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5764 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (22 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0080K3DPG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #356,920 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover
Tom Doctoroff provides a good overview of Chinese life and consumer patterns with colour from client work based on his time at JWT the advertising agency.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9cea4318) out of 5 stars 22 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cebaea0) out of 5 stars A must-read for those involved in China, but will take work to get through 16 Aug. 2012
By E. Sander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been working in China for 1,5 year now and was immediately fascinated by the title and context of this book. In the past 2 years I have been extensively reading about China, its culture and the psyche of its people in an attempt to understand them. Bit by bit I have been putting the complex puzzle of China and the Chinese together only to see that the resulting picture still never made complete sense. I expected a lot from books like Kotler's 'Marketing Management in China', but it proved little more than his regular 'Marketing Management' book with some added Chinese case material. After reading an article about Doctoroff's book online I knew I had to get myself a copy immediately (which initially proved a bit challenging since the book itself is banned in China).

After having read the book I have to agree with both the positive and negative comments in other reviews. First of all, this is a must-read for people in the marketing, sales and advertising professions that consider China to be a (potential) market for their products or services. Even for people that are not necessarily working in these areas but are still involved with Chinese people (whether or not professionally) this is a recommended read. Doctoroff's experience, undoubtfully backed by investments in market research at his advertising agency, provides us with an invaluable source of information and understanding about China and the Chinese. And most of what Doctoroff writes seems to be spot on. An interesting aspect is the way Doctoroff 'zooms out'. Starting with the individual consumers, then discussing the society, than China's place in the world, while touching upon many different very relevant subjects along the way. It has given me many new insights, resulting in instant adjustments to my own projects. As Doctoroff writes, the biggest mistake is to think that we 'get' the Chinese and our Western concepts will work. They won't. This book will help you to better understand them and your own misconceptions.

So far so good.

A less positive aspect is the readability of the book. I have found a few problems here. English is not my first language but I have been reading English business literature for 20 years without any problem. In certain sections of this book I found the language style unnecesary pretentious, complicated and unappealing. The subject matter is complex enough to understand without making the text read like business proze.
Also, the book reads like a Powerpoint presentation. It consists of no less than 37 short chapters, each split into several sub-subjects, which are then split into sub-elements on a paragraph level where the text often consists of long lists of examples. The book reads like a constant dissection, which can be quite tiring after a while. At times the book also feels like a collection of short essays or columns, with an overlap in explanations. Sometimes constant explanation of the 'ambition versus anxiety' concept returns so often that the text almost becomes predictable. The structure of the book often gives it the feel of an encyclopedia, although I have found using the index in the back of the book, attempting to find and re-read something specific, rather useless.

The book could definitely have been more enjoyable with more anecdotes, a lighter tone and more sense of humour. I have found that when reading other books like 'When A Billion Chinese Jump' I would have vivid discussions with friends and colleagues about the content matter, mainly because the anecdotes in that book suppported the factual information so well and brought it to life in the reader's mind. People remember stories, not endless lists of facts. For this book the lack of such a balance and they way the text is structured often made me say to others 'I can't quite remember what it said about this subject, but it is a really interesting book.'

So let's leave it at that. A must-read for some people that will however take some energy and perseverence for some to chew through.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cebf108) out of 5 stars Excellent look at China today... 2 Jun. 2012
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A few years ago - must have been in 2004 - I was visiting my son in Shanghai and while traveling to Pudong Airport to leave, I saw a huge road-side billboard touting the newest, glitziest, apartment complex then under construction. Aimed at the new wealthy in Shanghai, as well as foreigners working there, the title of the complex was "Richgate". Now, "Richgate", completed in 2005 is still attracting tenants and I assume still has the same cache it had when it was under construction 8 years ago. Tom Doctoroff, in his new book, "What Chinese Want", attempts to explain the new Chinese "market" to foreigners who want to do business in China. Though he doesn't talk about "Richgate", Doctoroff writes well about the "New China", the very people who might be attracted to such a project.

Tom Doctoroff is currently head of JWT in China and has lived in Shanghai for ten or so years. He lives in the French Concession in a row-house apartment and was evidently not tempted to live (it up) at Richgate. As an advertising and marketing expert, he takes the reader through the intricacies of selling and marketing to the Chinese. Doctoroff's title, "What Chinese Want" is interesting in itself. Notice he leaves out "the" between "What" and "Chinese", therefore bringing his findings down a bit from the macro "the Chinese" to the micro "Chinese". There's a difference in meaning by leaving out "the" in the title, and unless it was a mistake (which I doubt), Doctoroff gives the reader a bit of a look at the individual person in China, rather than the mass of Chinese, as consumers.

But, in truth, Doctoroff also speaks about the mass Chinese consumer. He writes about everything from interpersonal relationships in both business and family lives, the embrace of some international couture brands but not others, and how the different generations value and purchase items. He's also writing mainly about the new China, the people in the embrace of the quasi-capitalistic/quasi-Communist economy. Those people who've moved from the countryside to the major cities to take advantage of better education and better job opportunities. And with those increased opportunities come the increased pressure to buy into the new society by buying the new products offered for sale. Cars, which are generally a hassle to keep in the crowded cities, are seen as objects of success by both the middle and upper-classes. And if you can't afford a whole Prada purse, you can still make do with a Prada key chain.

Tom Doctoroff's book is a fascinating look at China today from a worldly marketing standpoint. While written for the international marketer, the book contains enough interesting points for people like me who are interested in China and its place in the world.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cebf0cc) out of 5 stars Couldn't Even Finish It 13 Aug. 2012
By Craig Rutkowske - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book on a whim just to try and keep up with what is going on in China outside specifically what makes it to the news. I couldn't get past page 70 of this book. Although I think the content of the book is interesting, I felt like the writing style was overly complicated for no reason other than to sound overly complicated. I often found myself having to re-read the same sentences and paragraphs multiple times to catch the meaning. This frustrated me to the point that I would read one of the two or three page sections per sitting and then put the book down for 2-3 days before I could muster the courage to pick it up again.

Perhaps I am not the target audience for the book, but I would personally not recommend it as a "leisurely read."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cebf3c0) out of 5 stars Fascinating take on China 17 Sept. 2012
By GoldenChina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The great thing about China is it's so large that all opinions are correct. It depends on your experience from your industry from your corner of the country. Tom Doctoroff offers up good observations and useful examples although quite a few are outdated. I was wondering why he had to use such complicated English to express his views. I lost patience!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cebf420) out of 5 stars NOT FOR GENERAL READERS 29 Mar. 2013
By Arnold M. Schaffer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although the second half of the book is better than the first, I wonder how many readers will make it through what is just a glorified Power Point presentation. The book contains too many generalizations about Chinese culture and is mainly applicable to those individuals most interested in developing a marketing campaign for various products.
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