The movement of capital, people and resources from “inside this circle to outside it” is one of the most confronting and/or exciting opportunities, challenges and risks of the 21st century and will have an impact on every aspect of our lives.
In the long term, this movement creates unprecedented challenges for politicians, economists, historians and sociologists who will all have to grapple with the impact of a new aspirant middle class disrupting the old world order and exporting their cultures, wealth and ambition to other countries. We’re already seeing some early signs of what lies ahead.
In the short term, smart businesses and entrepreneurs with a will to adapt and prosper will find countless opportunities to benefit from this wave of cashed up consumers, aspirational families, hard-working millennials and savvy investors if they take the plunge and open their minds.
In the UK, this wave has already started. If you need any convincing of the short term opportunity to build a business case to promote your capabilities, services or products to just one sub-segment of this massive group (i.e. the Chinese who already have an interest in the UK) you can get motivated by plugging the following numbers into your spreadsheet:
Locals (ie local British who identify as “chinese”)
According to the 2011 UK Census (which happens every 10 years), there were 433,150 Chinese living in the UK in 2011 (equivalent to 0.7% of the total UK population) a 75% increase from the previous census in 2001. It is hard to source more up to date numbers but it would be reasonable to expect this number to almost double by 2021.
Migrants (ie chinese people moving to the UK each year to take up residence)
In 2017, 11,912 (11%) of the non-EU migrants in the UK which are ‘work related’ arrived from mainland China. In addition, about 35% of the ‘study related’ visas granted in 2017 (88,456) are from Chinese nationals moving to the UK. (source: ONS BBC).
Students (ie chinese students studying in UK Universities)
The number of Chinese students in the UK (88,456) far exceeds any other nationality. Almost one-third of non-EU students in the UK are from China. This is the only country showing a significant increase in student numbers, up by 14% from the school year to 2017. (source: UKCISA)
Tourists (ie chinese tourists who travel to the UK each year for sight-seeing, leisure, shopping etc.)
In 2017 alone, the total number of visits from Chinese tourists was 337,127 which was an increase of 29.45% from the previous year. There was also an increase of 35.16% in expenditure, which totalled £694.04 million.
Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the interest in the UK’s real estate market from Chinese investors has surged, with demand for both commercial and residential property reaching record highs. The latest analysis from Juwai.com, a Chinese website for buyers of overseas property, shows that enquiries in Manchester soared in January by 255.6% compared to January 2017, as investors look outside London for better returns. In addition to real estate investment, $18 billion of Chinese investment has come into a wide range of sectors, from infrastructure and equipment manufacturing to hi-tech, new energy and financial services.
All it requires is a bit of creative thinking about how you can delight and attract one or more of these groups by rolling out the metaphorical ‘welcome’ sign in their own language and adapting your offer to their unique circumstances and preferences.
Here are a few examples of some businesses who have already done this:
- Bicester Village, an outlet shopping centre on the outskirts of Bicester, a town in Oxfordshire, with many stores in the luxury goods and designer clothing sectors. Bicester is the second most visited location in the United Kingdom by Chinese tourists, after Buckingham Palace and has developed a website in Mandarin to make it easier for Chinese tourists to plan their shopping spree ahead of their visit. Also, new hotels were opened near Bicester Village and trained its staff in key phrases from the Far Eastern language, as well as designing oriental welcome packs for guests.
- Scotts Fish and Chips is a well-reviewed restaurant located south of York on the A64 dual carriageway and attracts hundreds of Chinese travellers each week, dropped off by the coachload on tours from London to Yorkshire. To accommodate coach-sized groups, they adjusted their seating capacity and added group bookings to accommodate dozens of hungry tourists on long tables and translated their menu into Mandarin and Cantonese for download on smartphones and tablets via a QR code. Also adding to their success was the launching of a photo of Chinese premier Xi Jinping enjoying fish and chips with former Prime Minister David Cameron on Weibo and WeChat, and Chinese tourists want to experience the famous British food as well.
What can you do to make it easier for the Chinese to choose you, rather than your competitor?
Please post your answers on the comments section below or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing from you.