What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism, and China's Modern Consumer

Overview

Today, most Americans take for granted that China will be the next global superpower. But despite the nation's growing influence, the average Chinese person is still a mystery to most of us—or, at best, a baffling set of seeming contradictions. Here, Tom Doctoroff, the guiding force of advertising giant J. Walter Thompson's (JWT) China operations, marshals his 20 years of experience navigating this fascinating intersection of commerce and culture to explain the mysteries of China. He explores the many cultural, ...

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What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism and the Modern Chinese Consumer

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Overview

Today, most Americans take for granted that China will be the next global superpower. But despite the nation's growing influence, the average Chinese person is still a mystery to most of us—or, at best, a baffling set of seeming contradictions. Here, Tom Doctoroff, the guiding force of advertising giant J. Walter Thompson's (JWT) China operations, marshals his 20 years of experience navigating this fascinating intersection of commerce and culture to explain the mysteries of China. He explores the many cultural, political, and economic forces shaping the twenty-first-century Chinese and their implications for businesspeople, marketers, and entrepreneurs—or anyone else who wants to know what makes the Chinese tick. From the new generation's embrace of Christmas to the middle-class fixation with luxury brands; from the exploding senior demographic to what the Internet means for the government's hold on power, Doctoroff pulls back the curtain to reveal a complex and nuanced picture of a facinating people whose lives are becoming ever more entwined with our own.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Brilliantly written, colorful, witty and well signposted." —Financial Times

"I highly recommend the landmark and essential book What Chinese Want by Tom Doctoroff, to any business leaders, entrepreneurs, public officials, trade organizations, and members of the general public who are seeking a deeper and more profound understanding of the Chinese market and its consumers than is found anywhere else." —Business World

"With insight and energy, Doctoroff…takes on the daunting task of explaining the Chinese character… This in-depth, lively précis of modern-day China is an invaluable guide to anyone hoping to do business in the fast-growing Eastern market." - Publishers Weekly

"A primer on Chinese consumers [with] each paragraph delivering a takeaway pearl of wisdom… A no-nonsense book by an enlightened capitalist." - Kirkus Reviews

'Gaining familiarity with China's basic philosophies and culture will help businesspeople create new opportunities, offer competitive advantages, and avoid pitfalls. Doctoroff offers his readers practical advice as well as examples of successful marketing campaigns in China…An essential read." - Library Journal

"Do not go to China—with your product, your ideas, or yourself—without reading this book. Tom Doctoroff is a triple value interpreter; marketer, historian, and philosopher of all things China." - Charlotte Beers, former Chairman Ogilvy, J. Walter Thompson, and author of I'd Rather Be in Charge

"It takes decades for outsiders to begin to understand how China really works. In his latest book, Tom has distilled a career worth of professional and personal reflections into a potent cocktail of insights. This book is a must-read shortcut for any guest working in China trying to make sense of the overwhelming complexity and depth of China's consumer landscape." - Alan Jope, President, Unilever, North Asia

"Tom Doctoroff's insightful book What Chinese Want is a gem. It provides a unique perspective on why the Chinese think the way they do, history's role in China today - and unlocks mysteries one might have not even noticed. A must-read for those traveling to China—from the casual visitor to the corporate executive wrestling with the mechanics of Chinese society." - Stefan Halper, author of America Alone and The Beijing Consensus

'''What do Chinese Want?' It's a big question. But marketing guru Tom Doctoroff can handle it. He approaches rough business challenges not only strategically but also psychologically. He catches what numbers don't capture: the heart of a people and how it affects who succeeds and who fails on the mainland.' - Jing Ulrich, Managing Director & Chairman of Global Markets, China, J.P. Morgan

"Tom's unique experience and perspective is a boon to anyone who plans to address the Chinese consumer. In so far as it is possible to sum the sentiment and unique cultural underpinnings of this mammoth country, Tom has done it." - Kathleen Hall, Windows Global Campaigns and Product Marketing General Manager, Microsoft

"In explaining what Chinese consumers want, Doctoroff vividly shows us where China is headed as a society and a world power." - Garrick Utley, Senior Fellow SUNY Levin Institute

"What Chinese Want is required reading for any business person that deals with Chinese nationals or companies. It will help you quickly learn what was so hard for me to understand during my five years of living in China: China is very different from the West, and Tom Doctoroff will explain what you need to know to succeed there." - Miguel Patricio, President of Anheuser Busch Inbev for Asia Pacific

"The scale of potential opportunity in China is staggering. But business people who want to succeed in China often feel like they have landed on a different planet. Tom Doctoroff's book offers a very insightful, down-to-earth analysis of both what's driving growth in China as well as a nuanced analysis of the psychology of Chinese leaders and people. Anyone who wants to succeed big time in China will find his book very helpful and interesting." - Dr. Ramesh Tainwala, President Asia Pacific and Middle East, Samsonite Group

"Tom Doctoroff's What Chinese Want succeeds in linking the most dynamic facets of the modern Chinese commercial and consumer landscape with the unique and timeless characteristics of China's people and culture." - John Quelch, Distinguished Professor of International Management, Vice President and Dean, CEIBS (China Europe International Business School)

"This is a breakthrough work on the modern Chinese consumer. Rooted in a long and successful career in China, Tom Doctoroff's book gives a concrete, in-depth, and simple explanation about how this mysterious land really works that will begin to change the world's biased understanding of a great country." - Pierre Xiao Lu, author of Elite China, professor of marketing at Fudan University in Shanghai, and Founder of China Market Institute Consulting

From the Publisher

"With insight and energy, Doctoroff…takes on the daunting task of explaining the Chinese character… This in-depth, lively précis of modern-day China is an invaluable guide to anyone hoping to do business in the fast-growing Eastern market." - Publishers Weekly

"A primer on Chinese consumers [with] each paragraph delivering a takeaway pearl of wisdom… A no-nonsense book by an enlightened capitalist." - Kirkus Reviews

'Gaining familiarity with China's basic philosophies and culture will help businesspeople create new opportunities, offer competitive advantages, and avoid pitfalls. Doctoroff offers his readers practical advice as well as examples of successful marketing campaigns in China…An essential read." - Library Journal

"Do not go to China—with your product, your ideas, or yourself—without reading this book. Tom Doctoroff is a triple value interpreter; marketer, historian, and philosopher of all things China." - Charlotte Beers, former Chairman Ogilvy, J. Walter Thompson, and author of I'd Rather Be in Charge

"It takes decades for outsiders to begin to understand how China really works. In his latest book, Tom has distilled a career worth of professional and personal reflections into a potent cocktail of insights. This book is a must-read shortcut for any guest working in China trying to make sense of the overwhelming complexity and depth of China's consumer landscape." - Alan Jope, President, Unilever, North Asia

"Tom Doctoroff's insightful book What Chinese Want is a gem. It provides a unique perspective on why the Chinese think the way they do, history's role in China today - and unlocks mysteries one might have not even noticed. A must-read for those traveling to China—from the casual visitor to the corporate executive wrestling with the mechanics of Chinese society." - Stefan Halper, author of America Alone and The Beijing Consensus

'''What do Chinese Want?' It's a big question. But marketing guru Tom Doctoroff can handle it. He approaches rough business challenges not only strategically but also psychologically. He catches what numbers don't capture: the heart of a people and how it affects who succeeds and who fails on the mainland.' - Jing Ulrich, Managing Director & Chairman of Global Markets, China, J.P. Morgan

"Tom's unique experience and perspective is a boon to anyone who plans to address the Chinese consumer. In so far as it is possible to sum the sentiment and unique cultural underpinnings of this mammoth country, Tom has done it." - Kathleen Hall, Windows Global Campaigns and Product Marketing General Manager, Microsoft

"In explaining what Chinese consumers want, Doctoroff vividly shows us where China is headed as a society and a world power." - Garrick Utley, Senior Fellow SUNY Levin Institute

"What Chinese Want is required reading for any business person that deals with Chinese nationals or companies. It will help you quickly learn what was so hard for me to understand during my five years of living in China: China is very different from the West, and Tom Doctoroff will explain what you need to know to succeed there." - Miguel Patricio, President of Anheuser Busch Inbev for Asia Pacific

"The scale of potential opportunity in China is staggering. But business people who want to succeed in China often feel like they have landed on a different planet. Tom Doctoroff's book offers a very insightful, down-to-earth analysis of both what's driving growth in China as well as a nuanced analysis of the psychology of Chinese leaders and people. Anyone who wants to succeed big time in China will find his book very helpful and interesting." - Dr. Ramesh Tainwala, President Asia Pacific and Middle East, Samsonite Group

"Tom Doctoroff's What Chinese Want succeeds in linking the most dynamic facets of the modern Chinese commercial and consumer landscape with the unique and timeless characteristics of China's people and culture." - John Quelch, Distinguished Professor of International Management, Vice President and Dean, CEIBS (China Europe International Business School)

"This is a breakthrough work on the modern Chinese consumer. Rooted in a long and successful career in China, Tom Doctoroff's book gives a concrete, in-depth, and simple explanation about how this mysterious land really works that will begin to change the world's biased understanding of a great country." - Pierre Xiao Lu, author of Elite China, professor of marketing at Fudan University in Shanghai, and Founder of China Market Institute Consulting

From the Publisher
"With insight and energy, Doctoroff…takes on the daunting task of explaining the Chinese character… This in-depth, lively précis of modern-day China is an invaluable guide to anyone hoping to do business in the fast-growing Eastern market." - Publishers Weekly

"A primer on Chinese consumers [with] each paragraph delivering a takeaway pearl of wisdom… A no-nonsense book by an enlightened capitalist." - Kirkus Reviews

'Gaining familiarity with China's basic philosophies and culture will help businesspeople create new opportunities, offer competitive advantages, and avoid pitfalls. Doctoroff offers his readers practical advice as well as examples of successful marketing campaigns in China…An essential read." - Library Journal

"Do not go to China—with your product, your ideas, or yourself—without reading this book. Tom Doctoroff is a triple value interpreter; marketer, historian, and philosopher of all things China." - Charlotte Beers, former Chairman Ogilvy, J. Walter Thompson, and author of I'd Rather Be in Charge

"It takes decades for outsiders to begin to understand how China really works. In his latest book, Tom has distilled a career worth of professional and personal reflections into a potent cocktail of insights. This book is a must-read shortcut for any guest working in China trying to make sense of the overwhelming complexity and depth of China's consumer landscape." - Alan Jope, President, Unilever, North Asia

"Tom Doctoroff's insightful book What Chinese Want is a gem. It provides a unique perspective on why the Chinese think the way they do, history's role in China today - and unlocks mysteries one might have not even noticed. A must-read for those traveling to China—from the casual visitor to the corporate executive wrestling with the mechanics of Chinese society." - Stefan Halper, author of America Alone and The Beijing Consensus

'''What do Chinese Want?' It's a big question. But marketing guru Tom Doctoroff can handle it. He approaches rough business challenges not only strategically but also psychologically. He catches what numbers don't capture: the heart of a people and how it affects who succeeds and who fails on the mainland.' - Jing Ulrich, Managing Director & Chairman of Global Markets, China, J.P. Morgan

"Tom's unique experience and perspective is a boon to anyone who plans to address the Chinese consumer. In so far as it is possible to sum the sentiment and unique cultural underpinnings of this mammoth country, Tom has done it." - Kathleen Hall, Windows Global Campaigns and Product Marketing General Manager, Microsoft

"In explaining what Chinese consumers want, Doctoroff vividly shows us where China is headed as a society and a world power." - Garrick Utley, Senior Fellow SUNY Levin Institute

"What Chinese Want is required reading for any business person that deals with Chinese nationals or companies. It will help you quickly learn what was so hard for me to understand during my five years of living in China: China is very different from the West, and Tom Doctoroff will explain what you need to know to succeed there." - Miguel Patricio, President of Anheuser Busch Inbev for Asia Pacific

"The scale of potential opportunity in China is staggering. But business people who want to succeed in China often feel like they have landed on a different planet. Tom Doctoroff's book offers a very insightful, down-to-earth analysis of both what's driving growth in China as well as a nuanced analysis of the psychology of Chinese leaders and people. Anyone who wants to succeed big time in China will find his book very helpful and interesting." - Dr. Ramesh Tainwala, President Asia Pacific and Middle East, Samsonite Group

"Tom Doctoroff's What Chinese Want succeeds in linking the most dynamic facets of the modern Chinese commercial and consumer landscape with the unique and timeless characteristics of China's people and culture." - John Quelch, Distinguished Professor of International Management, Vice President and Dean, CEIBS (China Europe International Business School)

"This is a breakthrough work on the modern Chinese consumer. Rooted in a long and successful career in China, Tom Doctoroff's book gives a concrete, in-depth, and simple explanation about how this mysterious land really works that will begin to change the world's biased understanding of a great country." - Pierre Xiao Lu, author of Elite China, professor of marketing at Fudan University in Shanghai, and Founder of China Market Institute Consulting

Publishers Weekly
With insight and energy, Doctoroff (Billions), Greater China CEO for J. Walter Thompson, takes on the daunting task of explaining the Chinese character to business executives looking to enter that market. Though China’s economy and people are evolving rapidly, traditional culture still shapes the Chinese people both as businesspeople and consumers. The Chinese focus heavily on “standing out to fit in”; Doctoroff spins out this tendency to describe its effect on the rise of Chinese brands, recession tactics, digital China, e-commerce, piracy, consumerism, the new middle class, a booming luxury market, and society and hierarchy. Doing business requires an understanding of how to persuade consumers that the product will help them climb the social ladder—but not in a showy fashion. However, as Doctoroff suggests, though China is well positioned to become an economic superpower, it is not a threat to the U.S., and it will be decades before the country is poised to compete with the West on a global scale. The Chinese, infatuated with us, don’t want to beat us but to match our scale and ambition. This in-depth, lively précis of modern-day China is an invaluable guide to anyone hoping to do business in the fast-growing Eastern market. (May)
Library Journal
China is emerging as an economic superpower, yet, as advertising executive Doctoroff (Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer) explains, advertising and marketing practices in China often seem radically different from, and more complex than, their Western counterparts. Because their sensibilities are deeply rooted in their history and culture, Chinese consumers traditionally value strong nationalist and family ties, anti-individualism, and Confucian ideals such as "clever resourcefulness." Gaining familiarity with China's basic philosophies and culture will help businesspeople create new opportunities, offer competitive advantages, and avoid pitfalls. Doctoroff offers his readers practical advice as well as examples of successful marketing campaigns in China. He discusses products from a multitude of industries, ranging from personal hygiene items to luxury goods like watches and automobiles. VERDICT For those working in enterprises that export to or do business with China, this is an essential read. Recommended for all international marketing academic collections because detailed information of this quality may be challenging to locate by other means.—Caroline Geck, Peshine Ave. Prep. Sch. Lib., Newark, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A primer on Chinese consumers. Doctoroff (Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer, 2005) is North Asia area director and Greater China CEO for marketing/advertising firm J. Walter Thompson. Obviously a pragmatic person, the author stresses the pragmatism of Chinese consumers. It is vital to understand the individual politics and civic values of Chinese women and men of all ages, he writes, so that they are more likely to purchase products and services from elsewhere. This mostly explains the failure of the Mattel company to sell Barbie dolls and the success of Starbucks to sell coffee and other consumables in a strong tea culture. Throughout the book, Doctoroff treats even the most complicated topics briefly, with each paragraph delivering a takeaway pearl of wisdom. Because the ordering of the chapters seems random, the narrative is choppy, but the writing is clear and authoritative. Doctoroff does not see China as an economic or political threat to the United States, which gives the book a certain calmness too often absent in similar books by authors who seem slaves to xenophobia, no matter how subtle. Doctoroff emphasizes the importance of understanding the Chinese worldview, which is radically different from that of the United States, no matter how much some Chinese express fascination with Western culture. All the outward modernization of Chinese society does not negate the reality that fundamental change is nearly absent, that the watchword is individual ambition, leavened by caution and family loyalty. In an epilogue, Doctoroff offers 10 myths about China, including the myth that American-style individualism is taking root. A no-nonsense book by an enlightened capitalist.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781137278357
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 993,241
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Doctoroff is the North Asia Area Director and Greater China CEO for J. Walter Thompson (JWT), the author of Billions, and a leading authority on marketing in China and Chinese consumer culture. He has appeared regularly on CNBC, NBC, Bloomberg, and National Public Radio and has been featured in the Financial Times, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times among others. He is also a columnist for the China Economic Review and the Chinese magazine Global Entrepreneur. Doctoroff is the recipient of the Magnolia Government Award, the highest honor given by the Shanghai municipal government to expatriates, and was selected to be an official torchbearer for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

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Table of Contents

PART I: PROLOGUE

The Objectives of 'What Chinese Want'

Modern Middle Kingdom: Old Pipes, New Palace

PART II: CHINESE SOCIETY

Family and Country and Me: Chinese Society

China's Middle Class and Communist Party

The Long, Long March: Civil Society in China

Life in the Shanghai's Lanes: A Community Affair

A Day at the Shanghai Zoo: Families in Action

Christmas in China

Ritualistic Observation

Tycoon Tang Jun's Lost 'face': A Chinese Business Tragedy

Sex in China: Prudence and Prurience

PART III: DOING BUSINESS IN CHINA

Always and Anta: Chinese Business

The Rise of Chinese Brands: Not Anytime Soon

Brand Management in China: Three Golden Rules

Chinese 'Recession' Tactics: How Marketers can Win during a Downturn

The Chinese Boardroom: Face and Fear

Managing China: Stimulating Creativity in a Sea of Convention

Winning Designs: Standing out to fit in

Digital China: Liberated Consumers, Constricted Corporations

E-Commerce in China: Patriarchic Benevolence

Illegal DVDs: Why Piracy is here to Stay

The Business of Advertising in China: Incremental Progress, no Breakthrough

PART IV: THE NEW, OLD CHINESE CONSUMER

Never the Twain shall Meet: Chinese Consumers

The New Middle Class: Constants and Variables

China's Lower-tier Cities: Brighter Eyes, Bigger Markets

China's Booming Luxury Market: Goldmine or Landmine?

Car Crazy China: Where Anxiety and Egos Collide

The Senior Market: Gray Today, Golden Tomorrow

Ambivalent Tiger Moms: When in Rome . . .

Young Digital Lives

The Chinese and Food: Survival and Success

PART V: CHINA AND THE WORLD

Icons and Identity: Chinese Global Engagement

The China Worldview: Don't Rock our Boat

How China sees America: Dangerous Love

The Obama Brand in China: Beware of Cool Cat

Human Rights and Consumer Behaviour

Dealing with Dissenters and the Western Response

The 2008 Beijing Olympics

Shanghai's World Expo: A Domestic Affair

China and India: A Match made in Heaven?

China and Japan, Venus and Mars

PART VI: EPILOGUE

The Myths of Modern China

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