This is the first article in a series addressing Computer Rock's expansion on the Asian market and discussing the inner workings of our company.
If we told you that Computer Rock is a big fan of the automotive industry, you probably would not be surprised. But a less-known fact that is equally as important is that we are one of Mercedes Benz smart's suppliers. With this partnership, we were uniquely exposed to the industry. This allowed us to follow and analyze the trends and make informed predictions about the future.
One thing seemed sure. China was trending. Last year in January, Mercedes-Benz and Geely Holding announced that they had established a global joint venture. They founded a $780 million JV "smart Automobile Co." and set out to make a new generation of smart electric vehicles.
We think this represents a path that is going to be adopted by many big players. When it comes to the automotive industry, we found that German car brands have been expanding into China. Chinese car manufacturers such as Polestar, Lync & Co, eCarX/CEVT, and many others have started to venture into Europe. They are painting an interesting picture.
By combining expertise and resources, they are actively trying to position themselves for global players' roles. All this expansion could be the step that brings us a step closer to autonomous vehicles, better connectivity, and shared mobility. A one step closer to a better-connected world.
While an exciting market, China does have its challenges. Before an effective expansion occurs, all the interested parties have to find the answers to some of the critical questions.
Market Entry Challenges - China
Language is probably the most apparent difference. While English uses an alphabet, Chinese uses a script of logograms. Rather than representing a single letter, these signs can represent words or even phrases. To be fluent in writing, one has to learn thousands of symbols. Additionally, the pronunciation can represent a challenge of the same difficulty. Both languages have different tones and rhythms.
All of this lays a requirement for both parties to be professional and educated participants in the process. If the successful conversation is the goal, then committed participants are the main ingredients. To put it simply, communication needs to be straightforward, easy to understand, and to the point. Avoid subjective interpretation and leave no room for misunderstanding.
While good design can be subjective, some things are not. Design is not just about making things look pretty. It needs to do more. It needs to be meaningful. An effective poster in Germany won't have the same effect in China and vice versa.
The Chinese language is, on average, 30% shorter than English. This alone drastically affects spacing and margins and requires fundamental changes in the global layout and structure.
If you have ever visited any Chinese websites, you might have picked up on something. They are COLORFUL! Forget about your dark, brown, and grey color palette. These colors are bright, vivid, and in your face.
The color is not the only difference. A Western visitor is more likely to get overwhelmed when visiting a general landing page. To them, it may seem cluttered, busy, and undefined. But to Chinese, it is a perfect way to present information as it allows for a quick scan before finding what you are looking for.
If you are still not sure what we are talking about, take a look at this example of the use of "white space" (space between text, graphics, images, etc.)
Google you know, and Google in China are two different things. Without a VPN, all Google-based applications don't even function. Even if you do get them to work, you won't get much. If you are planning to expand to the Chinese market, be ready to make the switch.
BAIDU: BAIDU is the No. 1 search engine in China and No. 4 in the world. It is available only in China Mainland. To rank on Baidu, you need a website to be in Mandarin, as English words don't even index.
WeChat: With over 1 billion monthly users, WeChat is one of the world's most prominent standalone mobile applications. It is described as an "Application for everything" as it covers numerous apps' functionalities into one. From text messaging to location sharing to gaming, WeChat has it all. WeChat profiles are more important for a mobile acquisition than websites. Used by both the business and private sectors, the mastery of using WeChat is a must.
Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone and get yourself acclimated to a whole new ecosystem of social media and marketing tools.
Facing the Challenges
We have been thinking about the possible expansion to China quite a lot.
We have analyzed the challenges and the solutions to create the best possible plan. Our goal is to build the bridge between Chinese and European companies looking to expand.
Our solution is the answer to the challenges presented before. With the cooperative joint venture with experts "on the ground," we will be able to deliver value to the clients at scale.
With our partner, Mobile Now, we are looking to become the support companies will need when deciding to step into international waters.
Mobile Now is a full-service mobile agency focused on building mobile solutions, platforms, WeChat solutions, and much more. They have more than 10+ years in the industry and are headquartered in Shanghai, with offices in Hangzhou, Changsha, and Singapore.
With their knowledge of the Chinese market and our knowledge of the European one, we aim to carve out a unique market position. We want to help you go international by leveraging our best qualities and locations.
As part of a long-term strategy, we hired our first Chinese employee last year. This action is just the first step of our long-term plan to become international leaders in digital transformations.