Giving firms intelligence to innovate
By WU YIYAO in Shanghai (China Daily)
October 18, 2016, 12:03 am TWN
Shaun Rein appears frequently on television debates on China, pens columns, delivers keynote speeches at conferences around the world. The managing director of Shanghai-based China Market Research Group has also authored two books: End of Copycat China: The Rise of Creativity, Innovation and Individualism in Asia and End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends That Will Disrupt the World.
The anecdote-rich books document China's efforts to move up the value chain. Many foreign readers of his books and audiences said they are impressed by his in-depth explanations. But some wonder if he is too optimistic about China and too keen to defend policymakers and institutions.
Being controversial is not a problem at all for Rein. He is confident his conclusions are borne out by what has been happening in China. The changes taking place in China should not be ignored by any company that wants to succeed in this market, he said.
"I've spent more time in China than anywhere else. My conclusions are drawn from research and interviews with tens of thousands of consumers in China," said Rein.
"I don't think I am over-optimistic about China. On the contrary, I think many people have underestimated China's potential to innovate, and undervalued what's happening in China."
Every year, his consultancy firm CMR polls thousands of consumers in 15 cities across China to get insights into consumers' demands, consumption habits and many other details. Using such data, the firm develops strategies for foreign companies operating in China as well as Chinese firms aspiring to get more market share.
Rein has developed a "Theory of Innovation Curve". In China, he argues, enterprises are shifting from copying foreign products and services－the first stage, copycat－to innovating, which is the second stage. Enterprises modify their business models to better serve China's demands.
In future, increasing number of Chinese enterprises will innovate for the world－the third stage. Chinese enterprises' original products, services and business models will become popular worldwide.
Young Chinese consumers, he said, want something different as a result of rising individualism, and this trend will increase demand for niche products and services.