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What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism and the Modern Chinese Consumer Hardcover – May 22, 2012

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What Chinese Want: Culture, Communism and the Modern Chinese Consumer + The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends that Will Disrupt the World + All Eyes East: Lessons from the Front Lines of Marketing to China's Youth
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023034030X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230340305
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"With insight and energy, Doctoroff…takes on the daunting task of explaining the Chinese character… This in-depth, lively précis of modern-day China is an invaluable guide to anyone hoping to do business in the fast-growing Eastern market." - Publishers Weekly

"A primer on Chinese consumers [with] each paragraph delivering a takeaway pearl of wisdom… A no-nonsense book by an enlightened capitalist." - Kirkus Reviews

'Gaining familiarity with China's basic philosophies and culture will help businesspeople create new opportunities, offer competitive advantages, and avoid pitfalls. Doctoroff offers his readers practical advice as well as examples of successful marketing campaigns in China…An essential read." - Library Journal

"Do not go to China—with your product, your ideas, or yourself—without reading this book. Tom Doctoroff is a triple value interpreter; marketer, historian, and philosopher of all things China." - Charlotte Beers, former Chairman Ogilvy, J. Walter Thompson, and author of I'd Rather Be in Charge

"It takes decades for outsiders to begin to understand how China really works. In his latest book, Tom has distilled a career worth of professional and personal reflections into a potent cocktail of insights. This book is a must-read shortcut for any guest working in China trying to make sense of the overwhelming complexity and depth of China's consumer landscape." - Alan Jope, President, Unilever, North Asia

"Tom Doctoroff's insightful book What Chinese Want is a gem. It provides a unique perspective on why the Chinese think the way they do, history's role in China today - and unlocks mysteries one might have not even noticed. A must-read for those traveling to China—from the casual visitor to the corporate executive wrestling with the mechanics of Chinese society." - Stefan Halper, author of America Alone and The Beijing Consensus

'''What do Chinese Want?' It's a big question. But marketing guru Tom Doctoroff can handle it. He approaches rough business challenges not only strategically but also psychologically. He catches what numbers don't capture: the heart of a people and how it affects who succeeds and who fails on the mainland.' - Jing Ulrich, Managing Director & Chairman of Global Markets, China, J.P. Morgan

"Tom's unique experience and perspective is a boon to anyone who plans to address the Chinese consumer. In so far as it is possible to sum the sentiment and unique cultural underpinnings of this mammoth country, Tom has done it." - Kathleen Hall, Windows Global Campaigns and Product Marketing General Manager, Microsoft

"In explaining what Chinese consumers want, Doctoroff vividly shows us where China is headed as a society and a world power." - Garrick Utley, Senior Fellow SUNY Levin Institute

"What Chinese Want is required reading for any business person that deals with Chinese nationals or companies. It will help you quickly learn what was so hard for me to understand during my five years of living in China: China is very different from the West, and Tom Doctoroff will explain what you need to know to succeed there." - Miguel Patricio, President of Anheuser Busch Inbev for Asia Pacific

"The scale of potential opportunity in China is staggering. But business people who want to succeed in China often feel like they have landed on a different planet. Tom Doctoroff's book offers a very insightful, down-to-earth analysis of both what's driving growth in China as well as a nuanced analysis of the psychology of Chinese leaders and people. Anyone who wants to succeed big time in China will find his book very helpful and interesting." - Dr. Ramesh Tainwala, President Asia Pacific and Middle East, Samsonite Group

"Tom Doctoroff's What Chinese Want succeeds in linking the most dynamic facets of the modern Chinese commercial and consumer landscape with the unique and timeless characteristics of China's people and culture." - John Quelch, Distinguished Professor of International Management, Vice President and Dean, CEIBS (China Europe International Business School)

"This is a breakthrough work on the modern Chinese consumer. Rooted in a long and successful career in China, Tom Doctoroff's book gives a concrete, in-depth, and simple explanation about how this mysterious land really works that will begin to change the world's biased understanding of a great country." - Pierre Xiao Lu, author of Elite China, professor of marketing at Fudan University in Shanghai, and Founder of China Market Institute Consulting

About the Author

Tom Doctoroff is the Northeast Asia Area Director and Greater China CEO for J. Walter Thompson, the author of Billions, and a leading authority on marketing in China and Chinese consumer culture, with more than thirteen years of experience in mainland China. He has appeared regularly on CNBC, NBC, Bloomberg, and National Public Radio and is frequently featured in publications ranging from the Financial Times and Business Week to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.  He is also a columnist for the China Economic Review and the Chinese magazine Global Entrepreneur.  Doctoroff is the recipient of the Magnolia Government Award, the highest honor given by the Shanghai municipal government to expatriates, and was selected to be an official torchbearer for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

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Customer Reviews

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Contemporary, easy to read, w/ many fun insights.
gloria viseltear
And with those increased opportunities come the increased pressure to buy into the new society by buying the new products offered for sale.
Jill Meyer
Chinese mothers are drawn to products promising learning masked as fun - eg.
Loyd E. Eskildson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Craig Rutkowske on August 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book on a whim just to try and keep up with what is going on in China outside specifically what makes it to the news. I couldn't get past page 70 of this book. Although I think the content of the book is interesting, I felt like the writing style was overly complicated for no reason other than to sound overly complicated. I often found myself having to re-read the same sentences and paragraphs multiple times to catch the meaning. This frustrated me to the point that I would read one of the two or three page sections per sitting and then put the book down for 2-3 days before I could muster the courage to pick it up again.

Perhaps I am not the target audience for the book, but I would personally not recommend it as a "leisurely read."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Sander on August 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been working in China for 1,5 year now and was immediately fascinated by the title and context of this book. In the past 2 years I have been extensively reading about China, its culture and the psyche of its people in an attempt to understand them. Bit by bit I have been putting the complex puzzle of China and the Chinese together only to see that the resulting picture still never made complete sense. I expected a lot from books like Kotler's 'Marketing Management in China', but it proved little more than his regular 'Marketing Management' book with some added Chinese case material. After reading an article about Doctoroff's book online I knew I had to get myself a copy immediately (which initially proved a bit challenging since the book itself is banned in China).

After having read the book I have to agree with both the positive and negative comments in other reviews. First of all, this is a must-read for people in the marketing, sales and advertising professions that consider China to be a (potential) market for their products or services. Even for people that are not necessarily working in these areas but are still involved with Chinese people (whether or not professionally) this is a recommended read. Doctoroff's experience, undoubtfully backed by investments in market research at his advertising agency, provides us with an invaluable source of information and understanding about China and the Chinese. And most of what Doctoroff writes seems to be spot on. An interesting aspect is the way Doctoroff 'zooms out'. Starting with the individual consumers, then discussing the society, than China's place in the world, while touching upon many different very relevant subjects along the way. It has given me many new insights, resulting in instant adjustments to my own projects.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A few years ago - must have been in 2004 - I was visiting my son in Shanghai and while traveling to Pudong Airport to leave, I saw a huge road-side billboard touting the newest, glitziest, apartment complex then under construction. Aimed at the new wealthy in Shanghai, as well as foreigners working there, the title of the complex was "Richgate". Now, "Richgate", completed in 2005 is still attracting tenants and I assume still has the same cache it had when it was under construction 8 years ago. Tom Doctoroff, in his new book, "What Chinese Want", attempts to explain the new Chinese "market" to foreigners who want to do business in China. Though he doesn't talk about "Richgate", Doctoroff writes well about the "New China", the very people who might be attracted to such a project.

Tom Doctoroff is currently head of JWT in China and has lived in Shanghai for ten or so years. He lives in the French Concession in a row-house apartment and was evidently not tempted to live (it up) at Richgate. As an advertising and marketing expert, he takes the reader through the intricacies of selling and marketing to the Chinese. Doctoroff's title, "What Chinese Want" is interesting in itself. Notice he leaves out "the" between "What" and "Chinese", therefore bringing his findings down a bit from the macro "the Chinese" to the micro "Chinese". There's a difference in meaning by leaving out "the" in the title, and unless it was a mistake (which I doubt), Doctoroff gives the reader a bit of a look at the individual person in China, rather than the mass of Chinese, as consumers.

But, in truth, Doctoroff also speaks about the mass Chinese consumer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GoldenChina on September 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The great thing about China is it's so large that all opinions are correct. It depends on your experience from your industry from your corner of the country. Tom Doctoroff offers up good observations and useful examples although quite a few are outdated. I was wondering why he had to use such complicated English to express his views. I lost patience!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on June 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Author Doctoroff has lived his last 14 years working in China as leader of a large advertising agency - that certainly gives him lots of credibility. The book's Introduction was also interesting - telling us that some 800,000 Chinese live in Africa, mostly working on various development projects. Another point - The Hunan China Rich List, with 270 billionaires in China and an estimate that this is only half the number qualifying!

Values: The Chinese see the only absolute evil as chaos and the only good as stability - a platform on which progress is constructed. Family, not the individual, is the basic productive unit of society. China has an anti-individualistic social cohesion liked to the nation and clan. The nation also features top-down patriarchal management - eg a peasant father retains authority over his billionaire son. CEOs bow to Party leaders. The nation also features diplomatic pragmatism coupled with a long-term perspective.

Chinese consumers are now the most avid buyers of luxury products in the world. It has over 800 million mobile phone subscribers, and 250 million 'Twitter-like' followers. Divorce rates were almost nonexistent 20 years ago, and now exceed 40% in first-tier cities.

The nation's legal framework is built on the threat of punishment, not protection of rights.

China's government has identified and pledged funding to several strategic industries in which it plans to become a world leader - IT, energy-saving and environmental protections, bio-science, high-end equipment manufacturing. The Party believes China can maintain its lower cost labor pool for the next 20 years at least, especially in inland locations.
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