Felicia Schwartz SIETAR UK Talk; Cultural Insights and Marketing, 6th November 2018

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The talk on 6th November 2018 will focus on cultural insight and food marketing : the importance of cultural insight when localizing products, as well as local foods going global. 

TO GET YOUR TICKETS : https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cultural-insights-and-marketing-tickets-48269215523

About the speakers:

Felicia Schwartz has pursued an international career in branding working for global communication agencies Ogilvy and Dentsu. Her work took her to China, where she spent 13 years and specialized in strategic planning and consumer insights.
Currently based in London, Felicia helps brands and companies understand the Chinese consumer through cultural insight research and achieve effective business objectives through cross-cultural communication training. She has experience across a number of sectors such as automobile, luxury, cosmetics, retail and fast moving consumer goods.
Felicia is a graduate with Dean’s list merits, from Duke University in North Carolina, USA. She obtained her Master’s degree from Sciences Po, the prestigious Institute of Political Science in Paris, France.

Felicia Schwartz

Serdar Patkin is a semiotician and strategist providing brand semiotics, concepts and meaning as well as creative strategies for communication at PAKT insight+imagination. As Co-founder of Temaset Event Agency, he takes part in creating gastronomical movie experiences under a multi-sensory format: Tasty Cinema.
He worked as a cultural/political editor for magazines such as Arena and Luxury Files, and contributed as a writer to GQ, XOXO, Akşam, Yeni Harman, and Perspectives magazines among others. His articles have been published in academic books such as Internet and the Streets and Inter@aktivist. He speaks and trains at conferences and private training institutions. He also teaches 2 courses at Kadir Has University, “Online Reputation Management” and “Communication for Social Good”.
Serdar received his Bachelor’s Degree from the American Studies Department of Dokuz Eylul University in Turkey and studied for his Masters as a Fulbright scholar at The New School for Social Research in New York
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Help! Everyone is a China Expert – by Ardi Bouwers

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To read the rest of Ardi Bouwers’ post and find her blog too, just click on the link;  http://www.chinacircle.nl/help-everyone-a-china-expert/

About the Author – Ardi Bouwers is a China and communication expert. She plays with perspectives, jumping from China to the Netherlands and back, to help her clients deal with those difficult direct Dutch or the cautious circling Chinese, in order to build greater mutual trust and understanding.”

She can be reached via ardi@chinacircle.nl

How do Chinese millennials travel differently? – By Felicia Schwartz

The world is changing

Chinese Millenials are defining travel as they account for nearly 60% of all outbound travelers and 93% of them consider traveling an important part of their identity. Millenials’ travel patterns are a reflection of who they are as a specific demographic group, different to their more conservative and thrifty elders ; They are more ‘hedonistic’ in their willingness to spend money to indulge and pamper themselves and slightly less price sensitive. They are looking for meaningful, adventurous and exciting experiences. (GFK)

Chinese Millenials

International trips are predicted to rise by 25% over the next three years, while adventure trip, polar expeditions, and road trip travels are predicted to increase by 52%, 38%, and 75%, respectively. At present one in eight tourists to Antarctica is Chinese while Finland’s Lapland region last year recorded a record 92 % rise in overnight stays by Chinese visitors. Meanwhile Chinese demand for adventure travel is causing a shortage of skydiving instructors in New Zealand. Other adventures that Millenial independent travellers are interested in include zip-lining over Volcanos, riding in a hot air balloon, abseiling or caving, and tubing, water sledging or river surfing are top on the aquatic wish list (designhotpot.com)

 They are increasingly independent in their travels ; the 25-35 years olds tend to be semi independent ; traveling several times a year and planning some organized programs while keeping overall independent, 20 – 25 years olds travel by themselves and are open-minded about staying in hotels that might not cater for their specific cultural needs. The youngest contingent (18-20 years old) are willing to stay at hostels and backpacker-type accommodations. There is a growing search in this age group for “authenticity” and local experiences as they travel and discover the world.

They are hyper connected ; Young Chinese travelers are digitally savvy and highly involved in sharing experiences on social media platforms. 50% use travel booking sites (the three most popular being Ctrip, Qunar, and Tuniu) and they rely on review sites when planning their travels. When at their destination, WiFi is a key amenity for 63% of Chinese millennials surveyed and for 70% of 18 to 20-year-olds.

However, with all their differences. Millenials still need to be seen through the wider lense of the Chinese traveller. First of all, Chinese do travel more often than others in groups of 2 or even 3 generations. Cruise liners, for example, typically have to contend with Chinese guests that span several generations. This is when it becomes handy to focus on communalities such as food predilection and other dining habits as well as the ubiquitous love of shopping,

While nature and hiking as well as culture are on the rise as a travel motivation, amongst millenials, “good shopping experience “ still comes in third place as an overall reason to choose a destination.

It is also worth noting that the Eastern concept of service and hospitality is more hierarchical and service focused than it is in our Western egalitarian societies. In general, Chinese travellers do not really like to rough it. According to tour operators in Africa, while some Chinese travellers clamour for walking and canoeing safaris and request sleep-outs under the stars, mostly Chinese clients prioritize staying in comfortable accommodations, having the flexibility to choose if and when to go on an activity.

And just as Chinese millenials conform to certain wider Chinese cultural norms at the macro level, they also divide into specific sub groups when taken under the micro loop.

Author Profile – Felicia Schwartz

Felicia Schwartz

Felicia has pursued an international career in branding working for global communication agencies such as Ogilvy and Dentsu. Her work took her from her native Austria to France, the U.S. and eventually to China, where she spent 13 years and specialized in strategic planning and consumer insights.

Currently based in London, Felicia helps brands and companies understand the Chinese consumer through cultural insight research and achieve effective business objectives through cross-cultural intelligence training. She has worked extensively with HR teams, delivered business skills courses as well as global mobility workshops including to youth. She has experience across a number of sectors such as automobile, luxury, cosmetics, retail and fast moving consumer goods.

She counts the UKTI, EDF Energy, OpenJaw technologies, Jaguar-LandRover, Renault-Nissan, Valeo, Bayer, GSK, Bicester village, Publicis Advertising, AURA and the IPA (Institute of Practitioners for Advertising) amongst her clients.

 Felicia is a graduate with Dean’s list merits, from Duke University in North Carolina, USA. Felicia then obtained her Master’s degree from Sciences Po, the prestigious Institute of Political Science in Paris, France.

She speaks fluent German, English, French and Mandarin Chinese.

 

Reverse culture shock – the dirty little secret of repatriation by Felicia Schwartz

Where’s my driver?

The trouble with repatriation is that few expect “coming home“ to be so difficult. Of course the notion of “coming home” in itself is largely ambiguous because the place one knew before has changed during one’s expatriation as have we as people. Roaming around old stomping grounds chasing shadows is hence often more alienating an experience than confronting a new culture we consciously know will be a challenge.

Crazy Suitcase Plane

Coming home…

It does not help that the environment and companies largely ignore the returning expat’s plight. There is little in the way of readjustment programs or any consideration that the repatriate may need help fitting back into the very place they came from. Complaining about having lost the maid and driver and taking a salary cut also tends to attract “surprisingly” little sympathy.

What a blunder!

Why did I ever come back?

This stands in stark contrast to the tightknit expat communities, training programs and VIP treatment that welcome the expat upon arrival in a host country at the start of their mission.

As a result, many repatriates quickly become disgruntled and experience difficulty both in their private and professional lives. BBC capital found that in 2013, about 16% of workers left their employers within two years of a global assignment ending, while relocation experts such as Brookfield GRS and GMAC quote twice that number*. In any case, given the considerable investment in expats, any attrition would seem like a big loss in terms of ROI.

It would make sense that companies step up their efforts to support repatriates, but also give more thought to making use of the repatriate’s skills and knowledge. Of course, repatriates can also plan their own readjustment process more thoroughly:

  • Where possible, expert relocation consultants such as Brookfield GRS suggest repatriates should prepare for repatriation a good 6-9 months prior to their return. This includes planning and discussing new positions at work, living and family arrangements including schools and so on.
  • Expect the repatriation process, similar to expatriation, to extend over several stages of adjustment; the honeymoon period: “its so nice to be back in a place where the air is clean and shops are quaint, it feels like a holiday!“ to culture shock “Why are those people at work so parochial and where can I find a decent Chinese restaurant in this city?!“ to eventual adjustment “need to get a mortgage, need to sort out pension, need to plan a vacation to the Isle of Wight“ …
  • Similar to expatriation, it is crucial to adjust one’s behavior and devise a strategy for a smoother transition;
  • Refrain from starting every second sentence with “Well, in China/ Bahrain/ Rio …” while at the same time ensuring that one’s international expertise is well known and recorded across the organization.
  • Equally, avoid overloading friends and colleagues with stories of wonder and adventure in rural Guangzhou – only offer information when asked … as hard as the prospect might seem!
  • Develop and show interest in some aspect of local life; sports, music politics …and get involved in the local community. Volunteering is one meaningful way to do so.
  • Proactively ask for training if you feel any specific topics/ technologies/ skills have bypassed you while you were abroad. A mentor might also be useful.

From a psychological point of view it is primordial to achieve closure on the expatriation period and stop pining for the past or giving in to the urge of constantly comparing. Without such closure it will be difficult to successfully move onward in a familiar yet new environment which requires a great investment of positive energy!

Author Profile– **Felicia Schwartz has spent 13 years in China and is the founder of China Insight www.hitangandccc.com/china-insight a training and consultancy company helping businesses and executives adapt to cultural change and markets across China and Europe.

Felicia Schwartz

* Data Sources – Dr Katharina Lefringhausen : 23% (GMAC, 2013) to 38% (Brookfield, 2010) of repatriate employees resign from their company within the first year upon return and up to 50% leave after 2 (Brookfield, 2010) to 3 years (GMAC, 2013) upon return.

 

Interviewing and evaluating candidates across cultures – by Consumer Insights expert and interculturalist, Felicia Schwartz.

I was recently asked to conduct a workshop for the HR members of an Energy company departing to China to hire new staff. The Chinese expats were to be integrated into teams in the UK, some as managers overseeing British team members. The training brought to light some of the major challenges when interviewing across cultures.

Shanghai skyline panorama, China

Shanghai skyline, China

Difficulties in interviewing across cultures

Cross-cultural interviews can be quite stressful situations. The interviewer must assess a candidate that falls outside the norms they are used to. Looking at their C.V., no familiar benchmarks come up; schools, maybe even former companies might draw a blank. The person in front of them does not sound, act or react the way candidates do in their local remit.

From the candidate’s point of view, they are often struggling in a non-native language and have their own cultural assumptions as to what the interviewer wants to hear and how the interview will unfold. These assumptions are of course mostly wrong! Thus we have a ripe terrain for misunderstanding and miscommunication …

Felicia Schwartz Felicia Schwartz – Consumer Insights Expert

What is the place of cross-cultural intelligence in the interview and assessment process? Why do assessors even need cultural intelligence? Surely the interviewee is the one that should demonstrate their “fit” with the culture they are applying to work in?

In reality, while the candidate will certainly benefit from going into the interview culturally prepared to face their interviewers, the latter also have a responsibility to prepare culturally if they want to have a good chance at “reading“ the candidate correctly. Even if they do not have the time for a lengthy specific cultural training, a first, useful step is simply gaining self-awareness and moving onto a more neutral terrain. That means maintaining an open attitude, and proactively looking for solutions when the conversation gets “stuck”.

The “how-to’s” of the cross- cultural interview

There are several levels to communication, and each of them needs to be considered through a cross-cultural lens. For example body language, and how it differs across cultures; what does it mean when a Chinese candidate keeps averting her gaze? (answer – in Asia, it is impolite to fix someone’s gaze for a length of time.)

Or language; how does one render one’s English more comprehensible to a non-native speaker? (a clue; observing English natives who have spent a long time overseas; their English tends to be neutral, devoid of colloquialisms, their pace measured, and elocution clear.)

Beyond gestures and words, meaning is conveyed and received through cultural prisms; interviewers will have to adapt if, for example, they are low context communicators operating in a high context culture like China.

What does “fit” mean in a cross-cultural context ?

International candidates will often have a different professional trajectory vs. English counterparts, and we can assume, even without deep country expertise, that management practices in China will be different to those in the U.K. How does one assess for compatibility then?

Assessing cross-culturally will dictate a focus on adaptability and transferable skills rather than a like for like fit. Emotional intelligence will be key as well in fitting in with culturally different teams.

Also, the motivation and readiness for an expatriate assignment are key. Why has the candidate chosen the country of destination? What do they know about it? How will their family fit in?

Interview techniques; while interview formats vary across sectors, some pointers will specifically help in the context of cross-cultural interviews:

As intimated above, the interview structure should be culturally adapted to produce results. For Chinese candidates, given their relationship-based culture, it is beneficial to ease in candidates by starting out with introductions and personal questions, before delving into specifics and a competency based evaluation.

We have also recommended introducing case scenarios that would permit observing candidates trouble-shooting in real time, going beyond language and its potential pitfalls. Finally, we have looked at the interview panel set-up and a pre-agreed evaluation grid which would help rate candidates on multiple criteria such as rapport/ communication, language, motivation, adaptation capacity and technical skills.

Author – Felicia Schwartz has spent 13 years in China and is the founder of China Insight www.hitangandccc.com/china-insight a consultancy that connects business to Consumer Insight and culture across China and Europe.