What digital businesses entering China can learn from Jon Stewart

Is Jon Stewart’s recent online success in China a sign of new opportunities for non-Chinese brands? In China, the demand for global brands and content continues to grow - to the point that it has spread into new industries like comedy shows, where cultural cues are paramount to success. Jon Stewart is just one of many western icons with newfound success in China, all in part to the accessibility of new consumers through the internet.

Online businesses selling anything from humor, makeup, or shoes to baby formula can’t ignore these demands for their products in China: More and more consumers are exposed to global brands of all kinds through online offerings and travel. There are huge advantages to being one of the first brands to be noticed in the market, but just showing up isn’t enough. To be successful, learn from Jon Stewart and:

  • Localize your offering. Give your consumers things they can relate to and use. Jon Stewart did this by coming up with culturally relevant jokes about China’s culture. For retailers this could mean offering products that respond to needs specific to consumers in China, like Godiva’s Chinese New Year Chocolates.
  • Develop a fan base online. By giving your very social Chinese consumers a platform to talk about your brand, you can generate free marketing and new insights. Jon Stewart’s fans aggregate his videos in one place and work together to translate and upload subtitles on his video clips.
  • Pay homage to the country. Like all fans, Chinese consumers like to feel rewarded for their loyalty. Jon Stewart dedicated a show to his fans in China and since Tim Cook’s public tour through the country in early 2012 Apple’s market share has only grown.  

To read more about doing business in China and across the globe refer to my report Understanding the Dynamics of eCommerce in China and Zia Daniell Wigder’s The Global eCommerce Opportunity.