Things to consider when exporting to Asia


Want to export to Asia? Here are some tips in the interview with Queensland Leaders (QLeader).

Can you share some of your history & background leading into this business?

My business experience has three phrases: China, Japan and Australia.

After graduating from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences with a Master degree in History, I worked for the China National Tourism Administration. One of the big projects we did was to develop cultural tourism for Beijing City Council.

In 1990, I went to Japan and got another Master degree in international business. I worked for a big baby goods manufacturer and developed China market. We were the first foreign baby goods brand exported to China in the 1990s. It is still the No.1 baby goods brand in China now. I learnt a lot during this period. And many successful stories.

In 1999, we came to Brisbane. Since then, I have helped a couple of Brisbane manufacturers developed Asian export markets.

In 2017, I set up LinkAsia Group to help Australian business win & keep Asian clients. It has two parts: Export consulting and Lyrebird Language school – Teaching Japanese & Mandarin in Brisbane.

Asia is a big place. Can you share some of the most important trends that Australian companies need to be aware of?

You are right, Asia is very big. While different industries have different trends, and each market has its own trends, here are the three most common important trends I can share, let’s call it DIG:

  1. Diversity: Asia is always a diversified continent. The trend is the diversity now does not only exist among different countries but also spread to different groups or regions in the same country. This trend has created many “niche markets”
  2. Inconstancy: The mobile phone and social media changed people’s lifestyle. Things are changing so quickly. Consumers are continuously seeking for NEW things. We see the same trend here in Australia, but it is more obvious in Asia, and it is more unpredictable over there. This trend put big pressure on new product development and make “innovation” more important. You must have NEW ideas.
  3. Growth: Asia has been the highest growing area and this trend will continue. However, the speed will slow down and will become more sustainable growth. One new word to be used to describe the Chinese economy now is “New Normal”. This trend will bring opportunities for services, green and low-carbon industry and environmental protection technology.

If considering exporting to Asia, what are the major factors Australian companies need to consider?

There are many. Here are my three major factors:

  1. Find your export market: Most of the Australian companies think about China when talking about export. And they also think about Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities when talking about export to China. Asia is big and you need to find out which market needs your products or services the most. For example, when I worked for a food ingredient manufacturer, the board asked me to focus on China market, but I found the big opportunity in South Korea and we leveraged our Korea success back to China.  Another company exports more to Philippine more than anywhere else. So the first step is to find out your export market. China is a big market but it might not suit your business. This is why we call us LinkAsia, not LinkChina. Get the whole picture before you dig deep.
  2. Get a local partner: The big difference between export and domestic sales is “culture”, this is why you need to find a good local partner to work with you. This is the most important part of the export business. This is like a marriage. Good wife, good life. The first thing we do for our export clients is to find a suitable local partner. We are like a “Matchmaker”. 
  3. Play Tai-Chi: While we say Asia is much diversified, one thing is common in Asia culture that is “Tai-Chi”, this is especially true in China, Korea and Japan, the three markets we focus on. Mix the “black & white” and focus on “grey – agreement”, dynamically balance opportunity and risk, and be patient.

Where do people often get it wrong?

The most common mistake I found about Australian business is hard selling.

No people like sales. Push sales can only push people away.

I know a great Japanese car sales. He always bakes cakes and brings to his sales meetings. They start talking about cakes and how he made it, then before he leaves, he just asks “Anything I can help?”, and he gets orders. When I was sitting on the panel of an ACBC (Australian- China Business Council” workshop, another panellist from China said almost every Australian company he met claimed their products are the best from Australia. He and his buyers are sick of these words.

Arrogant brings you nowhere.

What is your final message to those watching this?

Export is a long journey. Like all other journeys, you need to have a goal (destination), a plan to get to there, and most importantly, enjoy the journey.

As people said: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; If you want to walk far, walk together”

We are here to help with your export journey.

Note: this is based on the interview by QLeader on 8 August, 2019 with some changes.

Want to watch the video, please click the below link:

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