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Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer Paperback – January 23, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade; Reprint edition (January 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403976635
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403976635
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Narrower than the title suggests, this book covers only the branding of consumer items through print and television campaigns. There's no discussion of marketing, pricing, distribution or product design, nor media other than print and television, nor niche or wholesale sales. Doctoroff, who worked in China for 11 years with JWT, one of the region's largest advertising firms, believes that "quantitative research... is incapable of unearthing... an epiphany that elucidates buying behavior" and that "data are coldly empirical" while "insights... are alive." Most of his book, therefore, consists of "insights": qualitative impressions of mass campaigns, mostly by multinational companies selling consumer goods. Doctoroff's analysis of these ad campaigns focuses not on their immediate sales benefit but on their contribution to a valuable brand image. Along the way, he dispenses anecdotes and advice on such topics as how to choose a name that works well in China and how to deal with government censors. This unfocused approach reduces the book's value as a how-to manual, but it does make it easy to read. This is a painless way to pick up the benefit of the author's long experience, along with many stimulating facts. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Doctoroff relates that his book covers three broad areas. The first deals with the importance of culture in shaping buying decisions. Doctoroff examines the psyches of contemporary Chinese consumers and the core "drivers" of behavior and preference across key market segments. The second offers data on forging what he calls a relevant brand vision, on creating a product portfolio that maximizes brand extensibility (the range of categories that can coexist under the same trademark), and on anticipating the peculiarities of the Chinese media scene. In the third, he analyzes the pitfalls that often cause multinational brands and their local competitors to fail, many of them a function of cultural ignorance or rigidity. Doctoroff, the Greater China CEO for JWT (an advertising agency), posits that the 1.3 billion Chinese consumers are the most striving, ambitious people on the planet and "that counts for a lot." George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
It is a must read for any one who is doing business in China.
Donald Hsu
Standing in the bookstore, the jacket of this book caught my eye, so I decided to thumb through it and then buy it.
Allan Druston
One that I particularly liked described how American mothers want their babies to grow bigger, faster, taller.
Millie Van Deusen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By zhangmin on January 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am a local Chinese living in Beijing and work in a Korean company that manufacturers and markets consumer electronics. Most foreigners don't understand us and think they are better than Chinese. That causes big mistakes! Remember the time Nike ads got banned??? :-) But the author really knows Chinese people (its scary) and even seems as to admire us. This book is very perceptive it's hard to believe a loawai wrote it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Allan Druston on January 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Standing in the bookstore, the jacket of this book caught my eye, so I decided to thumb through it and then buy it. I have an interest in China, largely because I see the country as a very important part of all of our futures. Still, I know very little about China. So, I wondered whether "Billions" would be accessible to me. Boy, was it! To my great surprise, a book on consumer marketing opened my eyes to, and brought to life, an entire culture that, as Mr. Doctoroff describes it, is both utterly foreign and worthy of great respect. The book is sharply written. It is also quite lively. Looking through the prism of advertising, one through which all readers can gaze (given that we are exposed the medium on a daily basis), China comes alive. We see how its history, religion, values and psychology are all profoundly different than our own. The thing that comes across most clearly is that, while Chinese want to be modern and successful, they definitely don't want to be western. They value their own rich culture too much. Certainly, advertisers hawking their wares in China will be at a loss if they forget this lesson (or ignore this book). But, so too will politicians, diplomats and anyone else who endeavors to interact with or understand the Chinese. In writing this book, Mr. Doctoroff has provided truly a valuable service. Of course, he gives us a basic but far reaching tutorial on advertising, one that unlocks many of the profession's secrets. (The lessons Mr. Doctoroff has learned from his lengthy tenure as an advertising executive in China literally spew forth from the book's pages, albeit in a way that is quite digestable.) But in treating China as the next vital frontier, in allowing us to understand the mysteries of this distant but omnipresent land, Mr. Doctoroff allows us to better grapple with the challenges and opportunities ahead. I loved this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Millie Van Deusen on January 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The marketing universe described in Doctoroff's book seems both familiar to Americans (its size, scale and ambitiousness) and utterly foreign. Its Confucian view of the world is brought home with a series of insights that can be used to build a strong brand. One that I particularly liked described how American mothers want their babies to grow bigger, faster, taller. In a bit of marketing mumbo jumbo, Doctoroff calls this "transformational benefits." Chinese mothers, on the other hand, are more concerned about the dangers of the world and therefore seem immunity and other "protective" benefits. This is just one example and there are loads more.

Doctoroff's analyses of many "sub" markets -- youth, men, women -- are pretty fascinating and eye opening. Almost like a parallel universe. The middle section is probably the least accessible to non-marketing types but the rest of the book is surprisingly accessible and easy to understand.

A really good -- even fun -- read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Marketing Whiz on January 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've been amused by Doctoroff's blog blitz. His team hit the blogosphere with 12 'Facts' about the 'Confucian Consumer.' Obviously, given our aversion to cultural generalizations, he was bound to step into some doo doo. Many of his conclusions were maligned.

I thought, however, they had the ring of truth and ordered the book. "Billions," contrary to some complaints, doesn't claim that there 1.3 billions consumers march in unison. The first several chapters cover different market segments. But the book is pretty clear in arguing that a "Chinese worldview" does exist and, what's more, is relevant when marketing Western goods in China. (Don't Western values reflect a "Christian Worldview," despite the fact that many of us are lapsed church goers.?) The insights Doctoroff reveal are, I think, pretty compelling and are rooted in Confucianism and Daoism. Doctoroff has actually written a deceptively important book.
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Format: Hardcover
As I write, Google has just announced that it will censor Internet searches in order to gain entry to China, the fastest-growing Internet market on the planet.

Many Americans are shocked --- just as they were shocked when Microsoft and Yahoo agreed to similar restrictions.

On another day, you could count on me to be shocked and dismayed. I'm not. That's because I've just read 'Billions.' And I now understand something that liberty-loving Americans don't: Individual freedom is just not that important to most of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. They are still living according to the codes of Confucius, who died 2500 years ago. And while they may not hold to Confucian beliefs for another 2500 years, they are not abandoning them any time soon.

But isn't China the fourth largest economy in the world? Isn't China an enormous shopping and manufacturing mall, home of the labels in your shirt and the parts in your hard drive? Isn't the Chinese middle class growing as if it's on steroids? Isn't China, in short, very much like America when we were in a great growth spurt?

Yes to all but the last question. And that's where the China story gets really interesting. The Chinese may be anxious to bankroll the America dollar, they may be thrilled to do business with us, but they are not like us in very fundamental ways.

Tom Doctoroff, head of an American advertising agency's China division, studies the Chinese market to see how products are sold and how they might be sold better. Those who think advertising is just a matter of inventing clever phrases and making eye-catching commercials have a big surprise in store for them --- the key to success is insight. Deep sociological insight.
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More About the Author

Tom Doctoroff is the CEO of J. Walter Thompson Asia Pacific and one of Asia's most respected advertising professionals. His unique combination of pan-Asian work, plus more than a decade based in China, has made him an expert in the cross-border management of brand architecture and brand building, as well as a leading expert in Chinese consumer psychology.

He has appeared regularly on CNBC, NBC's The Today Show, Bloomberg and NPR, and is featured in publications ranging from the Financial Times to the Wall Street Journal. He is a sought after keynote speaker for events such as the International Advertising Association's global symposium, University of Chicago's Global Management Conference and the JPMorgan Asia Pacific Equities conference.

Tom started his career at Leo Burnett in Chicago but jumped ship to JWT. In 1994, he moved to Hong Kong as Regional Business Director for clients such as Pepsi, Kraft and Citibank. In 1998, he landed in China as the Managing Director of JWT Shanghai and in 2002, was appointed Northeast Asia Area Director and Greater China CEO. In 2013, he was appointed the CEO of Asia Pacific for the J. Walter Thompson company. Through diversification into digital, trade marketingand field marketing, JWT Asia Pacific has emerged as one the most synergistically integrated, creatively dynamic communications networks. Some of JWT Asia's key clients include: Unilever, HSBC, Ford, Nokia, Microsoft, Mattel, Kellogg's and leading local enterprises in different markets.

Tom is the recipient of the "Magnolia Government Award (白玉兰政府纪念奖)," the highest honor given by the Shanghai municipal government to expatriates and was an Official Torchbearer for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. He is the author of the best-selling books "Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer" (2006) and "What Chinese Want" (2012). His third book, "Twitter Is Not a Strategy: Rediscovering the Art of Brand Marketing," is now available.

www.TomDoctoroff.com