The inaugural event focused on the growth and expansion opportunities presented by China, the world’s second largest economy. It took place in Dubai Design District, the home of Serviceplan Group Middle East. The ultra-modern d3 was the perfect venue to discuss cutting-edge convergence between the two markets.
Dubai, 11 March 2019 – The International Roadshow highlighted the strengths of the Chinese economy; namely that it is dynamic, ambitious, competitive, and well-connected. As such, it provides scope for Middle Eastern brands to expand and diversify their portfolios into an exciting new market.
Attendees were C-suite level executives and marketeers invited from internationally-operating companies based in the UAE. Key speakers included Bernard Wong, Managing Director of Serviceplan China, and Jeff Kwek, former General Manager of Key Accounts and Channel Business at Tencent Holdings.
As the host of the event, Serviceplan entrusted its Chinese team with providing a snapshot of the current market, as well as predictions of future opportunities for businesses in the Middle East.
Central Themes at the Event
1: China’s position as the world’s second-largest economy
The introduction of market reforms in 1978 ushered in a period of sustained economic growth that is cited as the fastest in modern history. China is now the second largest economy in the world, and it’s predicted that China could take pole position as soon as 2030. As such, there are huge opportunities for businesses in the Middle East to expand into a booming market and to provide investment security over the long term.
In line with its economic development, China’s middle-income population is now the world’s largest, with high spending power and strong buying propensity. This presents exciting opportunities for mid-tier and luxury retailers to tap into a lucrative demographic of prospective customers.
2: Digitization of commerce
The emergence of commerce digitization in China was discussed at length during the day. Several key issues were covered, including the proliferation and use of the internet in the Chinese market, the expansion of Alibaba’s high-tech offline store, Hema, across the country, the role of tech giants such as Tencent, and the close parallels between China and the Middle East in a digital world economy.
In 2018, 45% of the Chinese population made mobile payments, compared with just 20% of the American population and 13% of the British. Understanding current and emerging trends in the behavior of Chinese consumers is pivotal for businesses in the Middle East that are looking to expand into the country.
Q&A sessions allowed delegates to tap into the speakers’ extensive knowledge. Topics discussed included the factors that Middle Eastern companies must take into account when entering the Chinese market, the right way to plan and strategize, and how the concept of internet thinking can bring success in China.
3: Bridging the divide
Of course, there are challenges for any business entering an unfamiliar market, not least, the established and rising power of local companies. This highlights the importance for all companies to do their research and have a full understanding of the Chinese economy and population before entering the market.
At the event, there was substantial focus on Tencent’s WeChat, a multi-faceted communications, social media, and mobile payment app. With over a billion active monthly users, its all-encompassing functionality makes it a formidable force in the Chinese market. Consider a platform that pulls together WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, PayPal, Uber, and email. That’s just a starting point for how well-integrated WeChat is into everyday life in China.
The substantial knowledge gap regarding how businesses can leverage the potential of WeChat to connect with prospective customers was also discussed. The multi-functionality of the app for brands and consumers was explored, particularly in terms of the purchase journey. This helped delegates to understand the complexity of the platform, giving them a springboard for future engagement.
Serviceplan holds International Roadshows across the world to help bridge the gap between global business and local markets. In recent years, similar events have been held with a focus on other countries and regions, such as France, India, the USA, and the Middle East.