Home Depot Learns Chinese Prefer 'Do-It-for-Me' 家得宝发觉中国人比较喜欢“为我服务”

By LAURIE BURKITT
摘自华尔街日报

北京消息 - 家得宝在经过多年亏损以后,决定加入那些固执地认为可以以美国和世界其他国家生活习惯而没有调查中国文化的企业,而最终从中国大撤退的行列,决定把仅剩的七个仓库式的店也关闭了。


家得宝是在2006年进入中国的跨国零售公司,它将关闭所有的店。上图就是2007年在北京开设的家得宝。


因为中国廉价的劳动力,现代的中国人比较难具有自己动手的民族特色,加上现代的居住环境都以楼房为主不需要太多的建筑木材,所以在2006年当这家在美国最大的家庭装修材料商店家得宝进入中国的时候,就在增长营业额上感到了挑战。


家得宝承认误解了中国人“自己动手”的欲望。一位家得宝的女发言人在谈到中国人的生活习惯时说,“市场趋势告诉我们,中国人更喜欢‘为我服务’。”


美泰儿公司在去年三月,关闭了她的旗舰商店,因为发觉中国家长宁可让孩子多读书,而不愿意让孩子玩一会儿玩具娃娃乘坐美国塑胶玩具赛车。在发觉中国人比较喜欢洗衣机和冷气机,而不是浓咖啡制作器和最新款的音响设备之后,百思买决定关闭在中国的九家批发商店。


美泰儿公司的女发言人说,美泰儿玩具公司仍然会在中国出售芭比娃娃,但是公司将会提升更多的教育玩具。


百思买说正在靠他们的中国分公司 – 江苏五星公司出售家用电器。也准备开设手机特销店,另外也在考虑加上网上售货。


行业内的知情人说,国外公司太自信地用自己的营销方式在中国销售。这个星期在上海举行的零售商协谈会上,香港乔达诺国际服装公司的刘彼得说,“你必须很敏捷而自愿地作改进。”刘先生鼓励他在中国各地的1400多家批发店按照当地的习惯可以建立各地不同的营销策略。刘先生还说,在当地的人比在公司总部的职员更知道客户的需要。


家得宝完全改变了他们在中国的经营方式,开始注重专卖店。家得宝的女发言人说,在三个月以前,家得宝在天津北部开设了一家油漆和地板材料的专卖店,另外又开了一家建筑装饰品批发店,来满足中国人们所喜欢的一些特殊需要。她还说,家得宝将于中国的合伙人一起开发网上购买的计划,但是不用家得宝的公司名字。


至于家得宝将要关闭的七个店,公司的文告说,将会影响到大约850名雇员。这些雇员将会收到公司的一揽子解雇补偿福利和更换工作的协助。


家得宝还会继续在雇佣170名雇员。这些雇员将会在上海和深圳的采购部门和家得宝的专卖店工作。


家得宝的首席执行官弗兰克·伯雷克在公司发布的文件中说,“我们在过去的六年中学到了很多东西,我们的新策略是根据我们所学到的经验来调整的,同时也表示了我们继续为中国人民和我们的股票持有人服务的意愿”


分析家说,中国这三年的经济成长创最低记录是造成很多公司,包括国内的公司,从新考虑他们的策略。零售的增长量与去年相比只有13%,低于2011年八月17%的增长量。


总部在阿肯色州本顿维尔的沃尔玛决策者们在八月份说,明年在中国将只增加很少的零售店,总面积只有原计划的一半。沃尔玛亚洲部的总裁斯高特·博莱斯在给华尔街日报的电子邮件中说,“我们已经决定以中等速度发展,而把精力花在我们网站的选择和商店的内部设计上,使我们可以提供最佳的购买环境。”


英国乐购公司的决策者们说了,他们今年将关闭四家商店,把工作重点放在效率上。


苏宁公司是中国最大一家设备零售公司,这个月苏宁宣布将在今后的三年里增添超市,对于现有的400家批发店,每日提供生活必需品和书册,以此来弥补房地产的大幅度下跌。


咨询监督集团的分析师托斯顿·斯多克说,对很多商家而言,相互间的竞争也是一个很重要的因素。最近这几年涌入中国的公司冲淡了大家期待的潜在利润


对快餐业来说,国内外成千上万的快餐批发商,在中国各地开花。呷哺呷哺公司计划开设1000家火锅连锁店,就是将生的肉片和蔬菜在滚热的汤里沾一下再吃。百胜餐饮集团在最近几年已经新增了近4000家KFC和必胜客比萨店。


餐饮业的行家指出,百胜餐饮集团就是一个因改变策略而成功的公司。在KFC里,有蛋挞,豆浆和其他一些在中国以外KFC不经营的食品。


中国顾客,当他们再一次踏进麦当劳的时候,将会看到鸡腿汉堡与滚烫的热茶套餐在菜单和广告里都占有显著的地位。麦当劳非常注重产品的当地化,希望以此来与对手竞争。


麦当劳的女发言人说,麦当劳非常注重顾客的需要。


讨论问题

1. 你对这篇文章什么地方最感兴趣?


2. 对于那些希望在中国能够发展的外国公司,你有什么忠告?


3. 哪些是你喜欢的外国商店和餐厅?他们是怎样做了才得到你的喜欢?


4. 请例举一些受中国人欢迎的商店和餐厅。为什么他们会受到大家的欢迎?


5. 你希望那些公司也进入中国?


6. 你觉得有些外国公司能够在中国成果,有的却不能的原因是什么?


BEIJING—Home Depot Inc., in deciding to close all seven of its remaining big-box stores in China after years of losses, joins a growing list of retailers who have stumbled in China by failing to grasp the local culture and importing alien business models that are better suited to the U.S. or other countries.

The retail giant, which entered China in 2006, plans to close its remaining big-box stores in the country. Above, a Beijing store in 2007.

The largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, which entered China in 2006, has struggled to gain traction in a country where cheap labor has stunted the do-it-yourself ethos and apartment-based living leaves scarce demand for products like lumber.

Home Depot conceded that it misread the country's appetite for do-it-yourself products. "The market trend says this is more of a do-it-for-me culture," a Home Depot spokeswoman said of China.

Mattel Inc. shut its China-based Barbie flagship store in March of last year after it learned that Chinese parents would rather have their children read books than take a doll for a spin in her plastic Corvette. Best Buy Co. closed its nine China outlets in February 2011 after discovering that Chinese consumers needed washing machines and air conditioners more than espresso makers and state-of-the-art surround sound stereo systems.

A spokeswoman for Mattel said the toy company is still selling Barbie in China, but Mattel plans to promote more educational toys there. 

Best Buy said it is working with its Chinese subsidiary, Jiangsu Five Star Ltd., to sell appliances. It plans to open mobile-phone specialty stores and is considering online sales.

Industry insiders say many foreign companies have been too rigid with their approach to the China market. "You have to be nimble and willing to react quickly to changes," said Peter Lau, chairman of Hong Kong-based apparel retailer Giordano International Ltd., speaking at a retail conference in Shanghai this week. Mr. Lau said that he encourages regional and individual managers at his nearly 1,400 Giordano outlets on the Chinese mainland to create local marketing and sales strategies. The people on the ground know their customers better than employees in corporate head offices, Mr. Lau said.

Home Depot is shaking up its strategy by focusing on specialty stores. Three months ago, it opened one paint-and-flooring store and one home-decorations outlet in the northern port city of Tianjin to cater to specific needs and shopping preferences shown by Chinese consumers, the spokeswoman said. It also plans to launch online operations with a Chinese partner, she said, without naming the company.

...Home Depot's seven closings will affect around 850 associates, who will receive severance packages and job placement assistance, a company statement said.

Home Depot will continue to employ 170 staff who will work in its sourcing offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen and its new specialty stores.

"We've learned a great deal over the last six years in China, and our new approach leverages that experience and reflects our continuing interest in providing value to Chinese customers, as well as our shareholders," said Frank Blake, Home Depot's Chief Executive in a company statement.

Analysts said China's slowest economic growth in three years is also causing companies, including domestic ones, to rethink their strategies. Retail sales in August rose just over 13% year-on-year, slower than the 17% climb in August 2011. 

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives said in August that the Bentonville, Ark., retailer would open fewer stores in China next year, halving the square footage that the company originally forecast. "To improve our site selection and store design, optimize customer shopping experiences, we made a decision earlier to moderate our growth," said Scott Price, Wal-Mart's head of Asia in an emailed statement to The Wall Street Journal. The retailer currently operates 376 outlets in China.

British retail giant Tesco PLC is closing four stores in China this year to focus on more efficient operations, executives have said.

Suning Appliance Co., China's largest appliance retailer by outlets, announced this month it will create superstores over the next three years, adding daily necessities and books to 400 existing outlets to offset slow sales that have been caused by a slumping housing market.

Increased competition has also been a big factor for many businesses. The number of companies that have poured into China in only the past few years have diluted the earnings potential for any one corporation, said Torsten Stocker, an analyst for consultancy Monitor Group.

In the food sector alone, thousands of fast-food outlets, both foreign and Chinese, have opened across the country. Xiabu Xiabu Catering Management Co. plans to open 1,000 of its hot-pot chains in which diners dip raw meat and vegetables into caldrons of bubbling broth. Yum Brands Inc. has been expanding in the past few years, opening nearly 4,000 KFC and Pizza Hut chains.

Industry insiders point to Yum Brands as the ultimate example of a company that does adapt its strategy to China. KFC sells egg tarts, soy milk and other items that aren't offered on menus outside of China.

Chinese consumers will notice the next time they stop into a McDonald's Corp. outlet that chicken sandwiches and "bubble tea," ... are prominently featured on the menu and in advertising. McDonald's has been playing up its localization strategy to compete with stronger rivals.

A spokeswoman for the company said McDonald's always aims to understand its customers.


Discussion Question

1. What is interesting to you about this article?
2. What other advice would you give to foreign businesses that wants to be successful in China?
3. What are some of your favorite foreign retailers or restaurants?  What are they doing right in the Chinese market?
4. Name some popular foreign retailers or restaurants.  What makes them so popular?
5. What foreign companies that you know of would you like to see in your country?
6. Why do you think some foreign companies did well or bad in China?

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