Q&A with Anne from Redbridge
Anne Cao from Redbridge talks to Buy NZ Made about how they specialise in building business relationships between China and New Zealand.
Your consultancy Redbridge specialises in relationship-building between NZ and China. Can you please tell us how this works?
With the flexibility of my business I can work with companies who deal in products or services for the Chinese Market. I can assist companies with: cultural understanding, communication issues, project management, marketing research, market entry, trade show organising, exporting and importing assistance, and developing a strategy about how to deal with top management in Chinese companies.
And can you please tell us about your background and how you got into this?
I am a Chinese-born New Zealander, bilingual in both Mandarin and English, with business experience in both New Zealand and China. Previously I worked in Beijing for 10 years, in several challenging positions, most notably as a journalist for a large newsgroup, and as a sales and marketing and project manager for a publicly listed Chinese high technology company. I have had a significant involvement with sport as a participant and as a coach.
I graduated as a top student with a Master’s Degree in International Business from Massey University in campuses in both Palmerston North and Albany in Auckland. My ambition is to build bridges between China and New Zealand businesses, where I can use my language skills, and extensive business knowledge, to assist New Zealand companies developing new business connections in China. Due to demand for the type of service I offer, I set up my own business almost 3 years ago I now have a range of clients across a variety of industries, and find myself travelling to various cities in China up to 6 - 7 times a year on behalf of clients I am working with.
Does the ‘NZ made’ proposition have appeal in China? If so, why do you think this is the case?
The image of New Zealand in China is a strong marketing tool. The clean, green image of New Zealand and safe, high quality of food and manufacturing standards puts trust in New Zealand products with the Chinese consumer.
What challenges do you see there being in exporting goods from NZ to China?
The challenge is in understanding the cultural difference, language, and how to build business relationships. These can sometimes take a long period of time, and require a great deal of patience and detailed work from a New Zealand perspective.
Foreigners often think NZ and Australia are very similar. How does our ‘NZ brand’ image compare to the ‘Australian brand’ image?
In China, NZ and Australian products are very similar. It depends on the person’s experience in both countries. If a student studied or has been a tourist has been in NZ, they will recognise the NZ products in the Chinese market.
What can NZ brands do to make their product stand out in China?
The New Zealand name carries high profile in China for the quality and high standard of products made in New Zealand. Made in New Zealand is the best selling point in China.
NZ and China will no doubt have their own ways of ‘doing business.’ What are the main cultural differences you see between China and NZ, (in a business sense)?
From a Business sense, New Zealanders have to understand how Chinese have to save facewhen doing business and understand their protocol of your Chinese business partner all the time.
Also, any other big differences that are not cultural (like the cost of patenting etc.)
Chinese consumers always follow the Western big brand names and trends, which carry a high profile in China. NZ companies need to be careful with the patents, it is better to get advice from an international patent lawyers as these can be complicated issues and need to be carried out correctly in the interest of both parties.
What does the future look like for Kiwi’s exporting to China?
With the backing of the New Zealand Government, such as trade delegations supported and lead by the Prime Minister and Mayors from regional councils, plus the Free Trade Agreement, New Zealand companies should do well exporting to China moving forward.
What is your best piece of advice for businesses wanting to export to China?
Do your homework and research first, get good advice from a Chinese consultant from the Chinese business perspective and be patient, do not expect miracles overnight, have a long term goal. Do not concentrate on all of China at once, select an area that suits the product, and remember the population difference such as New Zealand’s relatively small population of 4.5 million compared to China’s 1.3 billion. Some of China’s smaller cities still have a population of 5 million to 10 million which is a good sized market to start with. China is becoming the largest economy in the world, and New Zealand need to be part of this rapid advancing growth.
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