One Country, Many Markets

The scale of China is both unique and awesome. With nearly 6 million square miles, China is the fourth largest country in the world by land mass. With an estimated population of 1.3 billion, China has the most people of any country in the world. Only India comes close, with 1.2 billion people. After that, you have to subtract a full 1 billion people to arrive at the third most populous country in the world: the United States, with a population of a mere 313 million.1 To fully tap China's vast consumer market, one must cover a lot of land.

To complicate matters, there is a broad diversity to consider in any plan to reach all of the consumers in this large area. The southern part of the country is tropical; it feels like a sauna a good portion of the year. The northern part of the country experiences bitter, freezing winters. Although Mandarin is the official language of both commerce and government, multiple dialects are spoken and can be incomprehensible to one another. There are vast mountain ranges and deserts. Household incomes span a wide spectrum, from destitution to great wealth.

If you add the dizzying pace of development to the country's large scale, diversity and business planning can soon become an overwhelming process filled with uncertainty. Where does one start? If a company has an already established presence in the market, how does it recalibrate? Where are the central points of consumer demand that will drive the next phase of ...

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