News & Insights

Bridging Cultural Divides for Seamless Entry into the Chinese Market

12 Dec 2023

Jensen Yan

Managing Director (China)

The Chinese market surged to $6 trillion in 2019, eclipsing the US at $5.5 trillion (Harvard Business Review 2021). Post-COVID, the Chinese government aims to expedite economic recovery, unveiling a one-year visa-free travel initiative from December 2023 to November 30, 2024, for citizens from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. This move signals China's desire to attract more international travellers and businesses, presenting a golden opportunity for brands yet to venture into this lucrative market.

While the distinct language and culture of China pose challenges for many brands eyeing entry, numerous international brands have successfully localised their value propositions in this dynamic market.

Image One (Image source: Sohu)



In 2001, Coca-Cola launched a groundbreaking New Year promotional poster in China, marking a pivotal moment in the history of international brand advertising within the Chinese market.

Image Two(Image source: Coca-cola China)

The poster ingeniously incorporates characters from traditional Chinese New Year, featuring a boy and a girl known as 'lucky dolls' believed to bring fortune to the family in the upcoming year. Notably, the boy in the poster also draws inspiration from the Four Great Classic Chinese Novels, adding depth and cultural resonance to the campaign. 



McDonald's showcases a profound understanding of Chinese culture through AIGC, crafting a bronze hamburger and blue-and-white porcelain.

Image ThreeImage Four(Image source: McDonald’s Weibo Account)

This campaign not only embraces Chinese traditional culture but also taps into the prevailing trend of 'National Trend' in the Chinese market. Originating from the younger Chinese generations, the National Trend seamlessly integrates traditional Chinese culture into the modern world.

As of 2023, the National Trend continues to dominate the market, with products infused with traditional Chinese elements gaining increasing popularity in China. Riding on the wave of this trend, numerous international brands have initiated campaigns incorporating traditional Chinese elements to resonate with the evolving preferences of the Chinese consumer base.


In March 2023, Arc’teryx worked with Songtsam Hotel in Tibet to produce a new style based on the geography in Tibet and the local culture. 

Image Five(Image source: Arc’teryx)



In 2022, Balmain designers collaborated with skilled craftsmen from the Chinese Yi minority to create a striking silver velvet dress. This unique garment seamlessly blends heavy metal style with traditional elements from the Yi minority, showcasing Balmain's innovation at the intersection of contemporary fashion and cultural richness.

This remarkable design by Balmain exemplifies how international brands are increasingly integrating traditional Chinese elements into their fashion creations, demonstrating a growing appreciation for and fusion of diverse cultural influences in the global fashion landscape.

Image Six(image source: VOGUE)



In the 2023 Chinese New Year, Apple spearheaded a campaign featuring the iPhone 14 Pro, skillfully capturing the essence of Chinese opera. The video adeptly demonstrates the seamless integration of cutting-edge technology to showcase and preserve the timeless beauty of traditional Chinese culture, specifically the intricate artistry of Chinese opera.

These campaigns have garnered significant attention in the Chinese market, fostering widespread awareness. Clearly, effective localisation of international brands necessitates a profound understanding of local culture. 

Presenting traditional Chinese culture in a modern context not only underscores a brand's creative and innovative capabilities but also facilitates a deeper penetration into the Chinese market.


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