The consumer market in Asia is indeed a very difficult one, especially the Chinese market where many global brands already had a hard time and made embarrassing mistakes over the past years when trying to win over its growing number of financially solvent consumers. At the end of 2018, it was Dolce & Gabbana that made negative headlines when it underestimated the diversity of cultures in its global marketing campaign with its awkward and misleading chopstick commercial. It was hard to understand why a multinational organization such as D&G hadn't learned anything from the previous marketing disasters of other companies and approached their marketing campaign so imprudently and unprepared.

However, this year, with the intensifying global trade war and the political protests in Hong Kong, international companies are now facing a new dimension of challenges with China when listing Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan as separate countries and not being part of China. Companies like Versace, Samsung, Calvin Klein and Givenchy, just to name a few, were practically forced to officially apologize for their lack of knowledge about China and the disrespect of its territorial sovereignty, after Chinese social media platforms with millions of viewers and supported by Chinese celebrities called for product boycotts of these companies. 

That being said, organizations need to understand that China is just one of almost 50 countries in the world's largest and most populous continent and there is definitely no one-size fits all marketing strategy that can be applied since Asia is anything but a homogeneous market. Apart from political, economic, environmental or legal elements, cultural and social sensitivity can be considered the most complicated factors for western companies in Asia and it is essential for them to adapt their marketing tactics individually for the products and services they would like to sell on each particular market.

The list of marketing pitfalls in Asia is long. Ikea in Thailand has also put its foot in it when naming its products after sexual acts a few years ago; Pampers in Japan used an image with a stork delivering a baby on the product packaging; Kellogg’s in India tried to sell its cereals and despite huge marketing spending the company couldn’t convince consumers to change their breakfast habits as the market was not ready for that at that time.


In order to ensure that consumers perceive a product and its benefits positively, it is important for organizations to consider consumer expectations properly when tailoring their marketing messages and to minimize possible risks which could emerge from the complexity of traditions, values, translations and social interactions in a certain country.

This can easily be supported through targeted research which would prevent companies to invest millions of dollars in vain and endanger their business. If your organization intends to expand its business into Asia and would like to better understand the specific market you are targeting, then don’t hesitate and talk to us today. Our experts will analyze the challenges and opportunities for your business and create a tailored marketing strategy that will successfully market your product or service.