Some know that in 1793 the Qianlong Emperor snubbed Earl McCartney, who had just shown the Son of Heaven clocks, telescopes, and guns. Few know what a vizier whispered to the Earl afterwards, "You don't understand Chinese customers."
The mantra continues to this day, 228 years later, despite the benign brand invasions of everything from Starbucks to Apple to Cambridge. Chanting it as an article of faith keeps many China advisory firms afloat, after all.
It can even be heard now that Blackrock, owner of half the world (Vanguard the other) has put a thundrous foot down in China's mutual fund market. Will the foreign interloper learn how inscrutable Chinese consumers are, and preserve the bottom line of Sino-Golden-Dragon-Bridge Partners?
"China's mutual fund market has doubled in just three years," says Edward Lehman, "and is still only $3T, a far cry from the U.S.' $27T. There is plenty of market potential, and I'm willing to bet giants like Blackrock can implement integrated service standards that will lead to big market share in the mutual fund industry, just as Starbucks and McDonald's showed China what standardized Fand B offerings could accomplish."