Interview starts at 10:09
In part two of the second csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, for the second year running, I interviewed H+K Strategies’ Simon Shaw and Richard Millar who were presenting on the subject of ‘China’s Age of Ambition’ at the Festival the following day, alongside Glory Zhang, Consumer Business Group CMO of their client Huawei – a brand that has become the third biggest smartphone manufacturer in the World within five years.
When we spoke last year, Simon told the csuitepodcast that he was in Cannes with his clients from China who are ‘looking to move from a culture of making products to one of explaining why they are making those products’. He said that this journey is continuing and that their Chinese clients are focussing more on it now, i.e., the balance of telling the performance of the product but also their purpose – their reason to exist. He added that you have to balance those two elements depending on the market you are entering, so if it is a developing market, it might be more price sensitive and so perhaps you might talk more around the performance of the product or the value proposition, but as their clients move into more mature markets, they may need to explain to a slightly different consumer why they should choose their brand as well as their product.
Simon said that Chinese clients have speed, ambition and agility – they have a real want to learn and move quickly. He believes the culture is now totally client-centric and not just thinking they are, which is where their journey began.
Richard added that with all the brands they speak to in China, Cannes Lions is on all of their agendas as an event to be at – they aspire to be creatively excellent and if their work is recognised at Cannes, then it is one measure of their success.
Whilst China may have had a reputation for poor quality products in the past, Simon said that the truth is very different now, particularly if you look at younger consumers who have no pre-conceptions about the Chinese markets. So whilst perhaps the slightly older generation may associate China with some of those stories from the past, the younger consumer look at China as an innovation powerhouse and a place to get amazing product. Simon believes China is a fast follower, learning from the West, innovating and doing things quicker, better and at a better price. Richard added that he has four children from 22 years of age down to nine and for them, China is cool and brands such as Huawei are on a parity with Apple and Samsung.
H+K has been working with Huawei for around three years and according to Simon, they share the same characteristics as other Chinese clients the agency works with across the Energy, Retail, Property and Entertainment sectors, i.e., a restlessness, wanting everything done at great speed and constant expectations for the best.
Simon and Richard’s message therefore to people in the West is to forget everything you thought you knew about China and to get wise to their brands, as we will be living with them for the next 100 years.
Whilst H+K Strategies have been writing a lot about working with the Chinese market, Simon and Richard believe it is best to experience it, which is why they have launched a the Shanghai Addition – pop up extension of their London office where they can rotate people through to see what it is like to work with Chinese companies. Simon explained that it is about two cultures learning and working together, which you need a right mind-set for.
The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.
Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.
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