In a relatively short period of time, Chinese tech companies are becoming increasingly competitive. Moving further to the global market is the next step for nearly every Chinese tech firm. Although expanding globally can be exciting and exhilarating, there are challenges when it comes to the problems of how to make up the gap in culture, user behavior and more.

At CES Asia this week, a panel of investors, platforms, and startups shared their insights and roadblocks they have encountered in going overseas.

Find a local team, localize your story

Expanding beyond your home turf could be daunting in general, no matter if it’s a Chinese firm scrambling its way overseas, or vice versa. It’s all about how to finding the right local partner, establishing trust with them, and defining the responsibilities and authorization mechanisms, said Denise Peng, Venture Partner at GGV Capital.

Wang Mengqiu, founder and CEO of Zero Zero Robotics, echoed Denise’s point with his own experience in marketing. Selfie drone Hover Camera was featured in more than 2,000 media in one week after its launch in October last year. He attributes their success to the right marketing strategy, created by their local teams.

“A good product is, of course, the core to its success. But it’s important to have a local team who have a good understanding of the market to help out in how you tell your stories,” he said. “Some Chinese CEOs don’t feel comfortable talking with the media. But in countries like the US, storytelling is important to get public attention. Giving stats and dry data is not going to work.”

Marketing costs might be higher, but it’s more predictable

How to make your marketing investment more effective is an art. It is probably the most intriguing question for Chinese companies who just entered a new market.

Most Chinese firms are concerned that their overseas marketing costs may be high, which it is, but all of the panelists agreed that the marketing ROI is higher and more predictable thanks to more mature and standardized marketing industry.

“No matter if it’s Google or Facebook, the ROI is to some extend more predictable. On the contrary, how everything works out in China is more complicated because there are more middle links,” said Jason Wong CEO of Omnicharge.

“Google and Facebook are the two top marketing channels in the US, which account for a majority of the market. When you have covered these two channels, you are half way there. In China, it’s more complicated, there’s Baidu, Taobao, JD and a series of other channels. You have to work with every single of them,” he added.

From market differentiation to market unification

When talking about the relationship between Chinese and overseas markets, we always tend to put our focus on the differences between them. However, the globalization trend is bringing people around world closer and makes every part of the world more similar.

“The success of in US market is evidence enough. Live-streaming as a new vertical first boomed in China and we have built a mature model up on it. But beyond the difference in different regions, people’s basic needs for entertainment and having fun are the same,” said Denise Peng.

Market unification is also reflected in the increase of talents with international backgrounds. “It’s no longer about copy-to-China or copy-to-US. It’s about people with diversified background and capabilities to develop something for the world, with fine tunes for different markets,” she said.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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