If history is any guide, China’s up-and-coming companies won’t remain unknown forever. The best Chinese companies will do what American and European companies have long done and what Japanese and South Korean companies have done in more recent decades: use their strengths in the homeland to expand internationally.
For instance, companies can leverage the positive reputation that their home countries have developed as a consequence of their economic success. For U.S. consumer product companies, this has often meant international associations with the “good life” of affluent Americans that has been reinforced by Hollywood. In recent years, many Asians, especially younger ones, have started to look to Korea as a fashionable, leading-edge country, based on its technical leadership in mobile communication and its soap operas and movies.
Similarly, China’s continued growth has already started to attract attention. In Africa and Latin America, China is becoming a major foreign investor and alternative source of financing for governments and is sending many Chinese employees to work overseas. As the global community’s focus turns to helping drive economic growth for the people at the bottom of the pyramid, China offers an alternative to the traditional Western model of economic success. If they act wisely, Chinese companies have a strong base from which to build soft power, combining an empathy with consumers across emerging markets, technological sophistication inspired by the world’s largest mobile phone population, and cultural attraction based on a many centuries-old civilization.
Edward Tse (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Booz Allen Hamilton’s managing partner for Greater China. He advises multinational and local clients on strategy, organizations, and operations.
Andrew Cainey (email@example.com) is a senior executive advisor for Booz Allen in Greater China. He works with both local and multinational financial institutions on all aspects of strategy, organization, and capability-building in China, Korea, and the rest of Asia.
Ronald Haddock (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a vice president of Booz Allen in Greater China. He works with auto and industrial companies from around the world on strategies for growth and operational effectiveness in the Asia Pacific markets.