We don’t know what we don’t know about China, as Donald Rumsfeld might have put it. A year ago, fed up trying to get sensible market research on my own from China for a telecoms client, I turned to a large Chinese market research agency, Info China. I found them by looking through the directory of Esomar which is a market research industry body that promotes ethical market research. They specialize in IT, Telecoms, Healthcare and Financial Services B2B research and their BDM speaks English -in fact he went to university in the UK. They are an offshoot of the University of Beijing and have been going for ten years.
We worked on a couple projects together and after struggling with some Chinglish, we are now getting the type of quality needed to gain real Chinese customer and partner insights for my U. S. client. I was lucky. I took a shot in the dark in finding them, though Esomar proved to be a reasonably good filter. Info China, like most Chinese companies, is unused to promoting themselves outside China. I thought, if only they improved their web site, that would be a start – so we worked together to do just that and they were very happy to take advice (and some copy writing help). Then I probed how they attracted clients. I learnt that much foreign market research work in China is subcontracted by market research agencies, many of them based near me, in and around London. So right now, for Info China, I am interviewing these agencies to find out how they go about developing relationships with Chinese market research companies.
And I have had some excellent conversations. Market research agencies understand better than most the value of market research. Like me, they are more naturally curious than others – so interviewing them isn’t a problem. And it turns out, they too are very curious about China as a market for Western goods and services – as are their clients. So I hope, in the near future, to shed some light on the Rumsfeld conundrum, and at least suspect what I don’t know, as I help put a Western face on Info China.