Issues - Research in China
Here we provide some viewpoints
on research in China.
Uniqueness of Research in China
With respect to research, China is both unique and not
China is unique because it is truly unlike any other
market in the world: a shifting combination of state-controlled
industries, new and growing private companies, a uniform
lack of transparency, heavy government influence,
a large collection of western companies with large
operations, millions of well educated, western oriented
young Chinese and hundreds of millions not so well
off. And, of course, it is huge. China’s size,
however, means not just geometric size but diversity;
diversity by region, by industry, and by quality of
We strongly believe, based on our experience
here, that a strong operational understanding of how
to approach these markets and make sense them is vital.
This means, for example, not just knowing that most
all drugs in China are purchased in hospitals, but
how the dynamics of this work, who controls the process,
and how this is changing.
A market like any other
On the other hand, doing research in China should
use methods that are not unique to this market but
which can be applied to evaluate markets, companies,
or channels anywhere in the world. These should be
rigorous and effective, and transparent. This is usually
where the domestic research companies fail. There
is sometimes the belief that , in contrast to western
markets, understanding this market is in the end not
possible, or that there is some genetic advantage
in doing so. We disagree.
Comparing Research in China,
and the West
Here are 5 ways that research in China is both similar
and different to the West.
Similar to the West
1. The same qualities that make for
strong strategic analysis in the West also apply in China. Thus “country knowledge” has its
2. Good international research methods
are normally equally of use in China. This includes
methods for B-to-B and technology research.
3. The analysts that carry out research
in China, as in the West, need to be well trained.
Being a native in either place, or having a background
in the industry is insufficient in itself.
4. In the West, as in China, relationships
will not make a project, and will not in the end deliver
5. There is no reason that the total
research product, including strategic application
of results and value added be any less in quality
in China than in the West.
Different from the West
1. Primary research in China relies
to a greater extent on in-person research, which in
the West is often not necessary or not feasible (or
2. Information in China is often dubious
in origin, so demands particular skepticism and scrutiny-
and transparent methods.
3. In China, “knowing one’s
way around,” which includes understanding the
particulars of the market, knowing where to get info,
and relationships is of greater importance than in
most Western markets.
4. Due to language and cultural barriers,
top management in China tends to be much less in touch
with the market, and understands it less in China.
The need for quality research here is greater.
5. Analysts in China, while no
less intelligent, have less traditional education
in analysis, so must be taught this to a greater extent.
For additional info, see:
Reliability of Sources
About GCiS China Strategic Research
GCiS (www.GCiS.com.cn) is a China-based market research and advisory firm focused on business to business markets. Since 1997, GCiS has been working with leading multinationals in sectors ranging from technology to industrial markets, medical, chemicals, resources, building and constructions and a few others.