Driven by increasing air pollution in China, as well an increasingly demanding industrial and retail sector, an e-commerce air-filter opportunity window has opened for the Columbus based air filter manufacturer Columbus Industries. My GAP team is visiting China to conduct a feasibility study for this new opportunity. The logistics and legal aspects are important and complicated pieces in the assessment of a go-to-market strategy for an imported product such as air-filters in China.
“Mind if I get your contact information so that we can keep in touch?” Xiaoran asked one of the contacts at the end of our meeting. “Absolutely.” The head of the investment department replied, while taking out her phone, “Swipe me.” Swipe me? What does that mean? I quietly chuckled, picturing how a non-native Chinese may think of this conversion, if it were to happen in English.
Mention East African culture or the dominate language of Swahili to a Westerner and you might just stir up images of brightly clad Masai people with gauged (stretched lob piercings) ears, elaborate jewelry and lethal spears. Ironically enough, the Masai have their own language, yet four warriors grace the cover of my own Swahili phrasebook. Go figure! Anyway, we’ve all seen the scene on TV or in the pages of National Geographic. For many tourists, the Masai village visit is an integral part of a safari.
It’s fortunate (and perhaps a bit selfish) that I elected to write the cultural blog post this week. I'll report on our African safari experience – certainly the highlight of my trip so far, and I think my group members would agree.
Initially, we planned on writing our second business blog about our first meeting with our colleagues at the University of Dodoma. There’s plenty to say about the differing style including: how and when to introduce yourself (Swahili has a structure of greetings based on familiarity, respect and seniority) and the concept of time. Since that meeting, we’ve come to recognize more evident and frequent differences in the business setting – let’s call it "operating in a less structured environment". Two notable differences we’ve encountered so far: structure and cell phone usage.