It’s no secret that the once sleeping dragon, China, has become an economic juggernaut. China is now Australia’s biggest trading partner and it’s not hard to see why.

However, there are many differences between the way business is conducted in China and Australia, and Chinese consumers have different social and cultural expectations than Western consumers. In fact, smart business leaders know that to be truly successful in China, Western businesses have to recognise and appreciate these differences, and apply them to their operations.

“Similar to how Australian businesses expect anyone coming to do business here to know how to engage with us, we need to know how to engage with the Chinese consumer and with Chinese business people,” says Alex Searle, Corporate Relationship Manager at Kaplan Professional.

Being trained to take advantage of the booming Chinese market is one of the biggest business opportunities of this decade. Rather than having to commit to a lengthy and often expensive course, Kaplan Professional’s China Ready and Accredited® online program makes it simple.

The program provides individuals and businesses with a thorough understanding of Chinese culture, offered in a flexible learning environment that can be completed anywhere, at any time, in just a few hours. It is the only online course of its kind approved by Chinese government officials.

Why become “China ready”?
Last year alone, China’s Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) was 11.2 trillion USD. Compare this to Australia’s 2016 GDP of just 1.2 trillion USD and you get a glimpse of the magnitude of the Chinese economy.

Realising this unprecedented opportunity, more and more Australians are expanding their business operations into China, and more Australian businesses are finding themselves catering to the approximately 135 million Chinese consumers travelling abroad each year.

How is the Chinese market different to our own?
Apart from being much bigger, the Chinese market is fast-moving and highly competitive. “In a market where you have so much competition, you can’t afford to make mistakes,” says Searle.

According to Searle, culture plays a central role in Chinese life and has implications for the business world, or even for people visiting China on holidays. Many cultural nuances can be unfamiliar to Westerners and without appropriately understanding them, capitalising on opportunities can be difficult for Western businesses.

Searle uses the example of an airline catering to Chinese consumers on an inbound or outbound flight to and from China to illustrate his point. “A small element like having additional hot water on board is essential for an airline flying into China since almost all of the customers might want to drink hot tea. So if the airline doesn’t have that then they’re not meeting that expectation in that market,” he explains.

“Similarly, a marketing company that doesn’t understand the significance of numbers, colours and symbols that are significant to the Chinese consumer may be disadvantaged, and not succeed in that highly competitive market,” says Searle.

How to gain greater professionalism in the market
The skills taught in Kaplan Professional’s China Ready program apply to a broad range of businesses. The interactive course covers Chinese lifestyle, politics, history, and economic development. It contains 12 core learning modules including The Guanxi Tradition, Chinese Numbers and Colours, and Chinese Investment Mindset, with checkpoint quizzes to test your knowledge as you learn.

So, whether you’re working for the government, in finance, education, tourism and hospitality, or any other number of professions, becoming China-accredited can be a highly useful tool now and in the future, when your business expands.

Searle recommends the training for as many employees as possible so that no part of the business is unprepared.

“You want every staff member at every touchpoint along the consumer journey to have an understanding of how to conduct business in China, from the moment a customer walks in the door to the moment they leave,” he says.

Furthermore, it’s not just front-facing staff that need to be ready. “Everyone in your business needs the right maxim to engage with the Chinese consumer, including policy makers and business leaders,” says Searle.

Being “China ready” can make you a more valuable business asset, while building on your engagement and confidence with Chinese people socially. Are you ready to take part in the Chinese market?

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Image credit: APEC 2013 (CC BY 2.0)