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CKGSB Host Pioneering Event on Digital Strategies and Market Expansion in China

December 13, 2023 | School News

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Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business successfully launched its new case study book, “Unleashing Innovation: Ten Cases from China on Digital Strategy and Market Expansion,” at an event held at its Shanghai campus on December 13, 2023. The event provided an insightful exploration of China’s dynamic landscape in the realm of digital innovation and market expansion, convening a fantastic line-up of industry leaders from Yili, Oatly, Google, Albemarle and PwC Strategy&, as well as CKGSB’s Professor of Strategic Management and Associate Dean for Strategic Research, Teng Bingsheng and Professor of Strategy and Economics and Associate Dean for Global Programs, Tao Zhigang.

The book chronicles the incredible success stories of eleven remarkable companies that are spearheading innovation in the China market with their strategy, business models, and ability to navigate the ever-changing landscape of tech innovation and globalization. The event brought to life some of the companies featured in the book, drawing on extensive expertise from industry leaders, and research from scholars and academics committed to studying these companies.

Cathy Chen, Assistant Director of CKGSB’s Case Center, kicked off the event, highlighting the importance of CKGSB’s Case Center, which was established 20 years ago. There were only a handful of cases applicable to business situations in China. Most of the cases were based on businesses in the West, and students found it hard to apply these cases to their experiences. Since then, CKGSB has been at the forefront of producing cases that showcase the competitive advantages of a wide range of businesses in China and Asia more broadly, with over 500 cases on China business. The latest case study book showcases some of the latest cases written by academics and researchers at the school.

CKGSB Professor of Strategic Management Teng Bingsheng

First to speak was Professor of Strategic Management Teng Bingsheng, who wrote several of the cases featured in the book. His keynote speech focused on the strategies employed by foreign brands to thrive in China’s competitive market. He emphasized the need for international brands to continue to improve their product localization, build new channels based on local conditions, and innovative marketing approaches through collaborations with influential brands.

CKGSB Professor of Strategic Management Teng Bingsheng with President of Oatly Greater China and CKGSB alumnus, David Zhang

Following his presentation, Professor Teng and President of Oatly Greater China and CKGSB alumnus, David Zhang, discussed some of the innovative strategies Oatly employed to achieve success in China. Under David’s leadership, the Swedish oat milk brand Oatly has spearheaded the food & beverage industry to establish a new plant-based protein category in China.

David Zhang shared, “As a foreign brand, the main reason Oatly has been able to achieve such great success in the Chinese market is its effective localization strategy.”

The company chose to focus on its Barista product by targeting boutique coffee shops rather than competing with popular drink beverages in the retail space.

Zhang says, “Through our ‘three-one’ strategy, focusing on one city (Shanghai), one market (coffee shops), and one product (Barista), we eventually became partners with hundreds of specialty cafes and gradually opened up the Chinese market.”

CKGSB Professor of Strategy and Economics, Tao Zhigang

After hearing about foreign brands expanding into China, Professor of Strategy and Economics, Tao Zhigang, delivered a keynote speech on “Chinese Companies Going Global: Strategies and Challenges in China’s Outbound Expansion.” Featured in the new book, Professor Tao researched and wrote about Yili Group, the Chinese dairy powerhouse expanding globally. He discussed the changing geopolitical and globalization trends which have impacted global supply chains and opened up new opportunities in markets such as Southeast Asia and Africa. Professor Tao then highlighted three key winning strategies for Chinese companies going global: market entry strategy, overseas brand strategy and overseas employer reputation.

CKGSB Professor of Strategy and Economics, Tao Zhigang with Zhihu Shang, Yili Group’s General Manager of the Digital Technology Center

Following Professor Tao’s speech, Zhihu Shang, Yili Group’s General Manager of the Digital Technology Center, and Professor Tao explored how digital transformation can contribute to Chinese companies’ global expansion. Zhihu Shang shared experiences from Yili, emphasizing the universal applicability of effective digital products and the importance of understanding local markets.

Panel discussion, from left to right, Weisi Xie, Jerry Hua, Zhihu Shang, Leslie Tang and Yao Di

Attendees were treated to a dynamic panel discussion moderated by Weisi Xie, Shanghai Director at the Economist Intelligence Corporate Network and included Jerry Hua, Partner, PwC Strategy&, Zhihu Shang, General Manager, Digital Technology Center, Yili Group, Leslie Tang, Finance Director, Asia Pacific, Albemarle and Yao Di, Head of Legal, Google Shanghai. The panelists discussed topics ranging from the challenges and opportunities Chinese companies face when going overseas, to the digital transformations taking place in different industries.

Lastly, Patrick Brody, Editorial Director at Earnshaw Books, the publisher of the book, ended the event by saying, “CKGSB has played a pivotal role in bringing businesses and markets together, and this book is a blueprint for future innovation and cross-cultural economic synergy. Unleashing Innovation has been a project over a year in the making and will act as a flagship in increasing the influence of CKGSB and also expanding the influence of China as a whole. The book is not only contemporary in its content, but also a crucial tool in an era where understanding and utilizing global interconnectivity can make or break market leaders.”

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