My wife has done quite a bit of business in China over the years (I usually just tag along for the ride when she goes). We have also hosted a Chinese friend and colleague at our house for a couple of months to gain greater familiarity with the culture and language (and to expose our kids to it). But I was not prepared for a line that our five-year old recently blurted out when we were on vacation (trust us, I'm not sure where he got it). Here's the quick story. My wife was wearing a rather trendy looking sun hat that she had purchased at a boutique store in Shanghai (at close to Western prices). Our older son turned to her and asked her where she got it. Lisa blurted out: "in China". Our five-year old responded with a one-liner that had us rolling: "well, it must not be a good brand."
Now, you could accuse cultural insensitive parenting for instilling such beliefs in our kid from dinner table conversations about doing business in China and the like. But in general, we're fairly pro-China in our house. Still, I suspect he did get this from one of us. However much he may be right at this point -- Mainland China does not have many successful brands in the West at this point -- I suspect this will change in the very near future. Just as Samsung, Hyundai and other Korean companies were known less than twenty years ago as purveyors of low-end junk, they went through a rapid brand metamorphosis that changed things almost overnight. I suspect China will initially have these types of Western "junk" brands as well, but within a decade, they'll be competing in brand reputation and quality with what the rest of the world has to offer.
- Jason Busch