Doing Business in the Chinese-American Community
If you want to find success working with Chinese Americans, you must learn about their traits and habits, and develop specific strategies around these traits.
Doing Business in the Chinese-American Community by Bryce Sanders
Take time to understand the Chinese-American culture, and you will achieve success in this key market.
If you want to find success in selling your products and services to Chinese Americans, you must learn about their traits and habits, and develop specifi c strategies around these traits. Doing so will give you an edge over other advisors who do not take the time to understand this important and growing demographic.
Chinese Americans enjoy a median household yearly income of $65,273, compared to the U.S. average income of $50,046. The attainment of higher education plays a role in this higher income level—51.6 percent of Chinese Americans hold a fouryear college degree, compared to 28.2 percent of the overall U.S. population. Many Chinese Americans are also hardworking entrepreneurs and business owners.
Apart from their higher incomes, most of them also tend to display certain characteristics you must be aware of:
- The elderly get respect. Confucius is seen as an older figure dispensing wisdom. For many Chinese Americans, family is important. Historically, children were expected to provide care for aging parents.
- They rely on trusted associates. Many successful Chinese Americans excel at doing business within their established group of trusted associates, often referred to as “Guanxi.”
- They seek consensus and value respect. Saving face is important in the Chinese culture. It’s considered rude to shout or yell at anyone. Often a person will not take a contrary position in a discussion because he believes that openly disagreeing with someone is offensive.
Succeeding in this market
So how do you prospect and sell to this market? You start by identifying what is important to them and building strategies around these values.
1. They value education. Education is a defi ning factor in the lives of young, upwardly mobile Chinese Americans. Perhaps more than any other group, they truly understand its value. They also develop bonds with fellow students and teachers, and on many occasions, these teachers serve as their mentors for life.
Strategy: The alumni association of your college is a great place to fi nd prospects; the Chinese-American alumni group is an even better source.
2. They value safety and security. Small businesses within the Chinese-American community are often financed informally; as a result, many of them like to work with large established firms, which, for them, represent stability.
Strategy: Make sure you invite prospects to your offi ce. And if your company is headquartered in a city, arrange a tour of the home office for them.
3. They belong to business associations. Major cities have affi nity groups and ChineseAmerican business associations, along with engineering and medical societies aligned to the culture.
Strategy: Join the right groups to mingle with Chinese Americans in professional settings. Acquire a mentor to help you if possible.
4. They have their own business etiquette. When meeting with them, go slowly and always show a great deal of respect. Let them know that they will be important clients who will receive personalized attention from you.
Strategy: Little things make a big impression. When receiving a business card, for example, accept it with both hands. Examine it slowly, read both sides, and place it on the desk in front of you. The card is their professional “face.” Make sure you offer yours in return.
Getting their business
Once you’ve met some prospects and they have become comfortable with you, focus on themes that resonate with them, such as:
- Education: As mentioned earlier, many Chinese Americans value education, but they sometimes do not know how to pay for it. Show them what the best schools are likely to cost and how setting up college savings plans allows the extended family to help their children achieve.
- Older family members: The current generation is expected to provide for the previous one. Products like annuities and long-term-care insurance can reduce uncertainty in their lives, and life insurance can act as a savings vehicle.
- All in the family: If they are happy with you, transition to the role of a trusted advisor who helps them solve specific financial problems. It’s likely that other family members need your help, so let them know that you can provide that help.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pa. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” is available on Amazon.com.
This article appeared in Advisor Today.
Topics: Diverse Markets