In the next chapter in our series “Selling Food to China can be Childs' Play “,we ask the question "Why is it that many in the UK think that they can “do China” by only ever going to Shanghai?"
So first let’s look at some geography.
China is a vast country but there are two main densely populated regions, one in the North East and one in the South East These are where the vast amount of Chinas' wealthy and middle class people live and have highly developed commercial centres which are, typically, 3-4 hours apart by air – so quite a distance away from each other
It does seem that there is a general opinion voiced by UK companies, UK politicians (and even UKTI to a point) that for UK companies when thinking “China” read “Shanghai”.
True, Shanghai is a very well established and successful commercial city, but it is far from being the only one in China, so before we go on, let's make it clear that we are not saying "don't go to Shanghai" What we are suggesting is "Don't ONLY go to Shanghai"
In a recent article in the influential Forbes magazine, which rated the best Chinese commercial cities, Guangzhou was placed first for the second year in a row, followed by nearby Shenzhen which is around an hour away from Guangzhou by road or rail, with Shanghai coming in only at third place.
So you have the two best commercial cities based in the South East of China.But have you ever heard of Guangzhou?– many people haven’t, but they have heard of Canton – the old, and perhaps more familiar name, which is home to the biggest exhibition in the world. The Canton Fair. This is where manufacturers from all over go to promote their products to the world– that really says something about the commercial power of the city
So why should Guangzhou be on your radar?
*It is the commercial centre of Guangdong, the richest province in China – in the heart of the Pearl River Delta region – China’s industrial power house
*The annual value of imported food into Guangzhou alone is estimated at around $80billion with yearly growth rate of 12-15%
*49% of professional food buyers are based there or in nearby regional cities*
*Within an hours traveling time of Guangzhou, you can access over 120 million people –your potential consumers (roughly twice the population of the UK). These people make up a big part of the rapidly growing middle class who are looking for new food experiences and also who have concerns about food safety issues
*The Pazhou Centre offers some of the worlds best facilities for exhibitions –remember it is home to the worlds biggest fair This means that Guangzhou has a very good infrastructure with a relatively new International airport, good rail and road links and plenty of hotels many of which are world famous brands
Finally the Anderen Office is based in the International Finance Centre, in the new business district of Guangzhou, rated as the premier business address in the city
Let us consider a bit of logic -China is a huge and diverse country. It should not be considered as a single market, in the same way that Europe has different countries, all with their own individual identity and needing slightly but significantly different approaches
It is a bit like asking the old question “how do you eat the elephant that is China?” Do you go for one hit, through a single centre, or do you slice it up and do it a piece at a time?
Looking at it another way, if you only exhibit in London, would you expect to win substantial business throughout Europe, You may hope to, but realistically, to be successful, you need to look at each country separately, probably exhibiting in more than one major centre.
As with Europe, in China the basic rules remain the same, but often need adapting, depending on which region you are aiming for. What works in Shanghai doesn't always work in Guangzhou and vice versa. It is also worth considering that there appears to be a North/South divide in China.
So with that in mind and if China is a market that you really want to conquer - then it is not the best policy to only think of one city.
Shanghai is certainly, as we have said earlier, an important commercial centre with a great deal to offer. However by only exhibiting there, you will restrict your reach and could miss out on what is accepted as the wealthiest region in China
This means that it is a great idea to try Guangzhou. Doing this will mean that you will meet potentially thousands of different professional buyers compared with Shanghai. It will open up many more opportunities for you to access the market
Food Hospitality World is South East Chinas’ biggest food fair and takes place in Guangzhou in September. Anderen Ltd are the UK agent for the show and we make it really easy to exhibit there with packages starting from as low as £1000 for a fully managed showcase in the UK pavilion. So if you want to access one of the fastest growing and most prosperous regions of China contact us today
85 Blurton Road
Tel: 01782 326027