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China: What Brands Get Wrong - and How to Put it Right

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

In April, Burger King was forced to pull a promotional video it had aired in New Zealand following an angry reaction from consumers living 11,000km away.


The video, which featured a customer trying to eat burgers with chopsticks, had caused an outcry in China. Dolce & Gabbana suffered a similar fate last year after the company posted a video of a model trying to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks, a move which ultimately led to a boycott of their products in China.

These examples demonstrate not only the importance of understanding and being sensitive to Chinese consumers’ tastes and views - they also show how getting it wrong can have an enormous - and global - impact for brands.



Today, companies need to think beyond their tried-and-true branding strategies, marketing gimmicks and celebrity endorsements. As the Chinese consumer becomes more sophisticated, companies have to put in the work to really understand the Chinese market in order to gain relevance and market share - and they have to be aware, too, of how their actions in other markets may still influence their image in China.


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