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Although the traditional Chitos that Colombians have been eating for years is originally an American idea, as the real name stands for Cheese, (Cheetos=Cheese) the chitos we consume are quite different from the ones American do.
Chitos in Colombia were adapted to common tastes, needs and desires and are mainly based on corn. This snack has accompanied our lives since we were just kids and has become with no doubt part of our childhoods and idiosyncrasy.
In the last decades, the world has been observing with attention the accelerated economic growth of Asiatic nations and thus the importance of their markets and eventual business opportunities. China would not be the exception, and has become an attractive target for companies willing to explore new markets and position its products or services abroad.
Our intention is to develop a successful business idea taking advantage of an attractive market such as the Chinese one, due to the enormous population (1300 million inhabitants), the richness of their food itself and the increasing Chinese demand for healthy snacks. Smart snacks such as our Spicy rice chitos can be the best ally in rush hours, free times or even during common regular activities to avoid hunger moments and make the stomach happier at least for a while.
We will also take advantage of trade fairs such as the one that took place in Beijing this year called SNACKEX where our product could directly be offered and introduced into the Chinese market.
However, this assignment will be focused on an entire analysis of cultural variables, issues and facts concerning Chinese people, and other information that will be crucial to previously take into account for evaluating the viability of our business idea. Also, we will intend to match and combine some cultural features from both the Colombian and Chinese cultures so that we can carry out a more accurate project and guarantee the success of our product in Chinese market.
CHINA CULTURAL BACKGROUND
As itÂ´s widely known and mentioned throughout our project, China is a country that has been moving on and showing an enormous growth in all the fields, gaining a privileged position within the international system as a superpower. This is not a new fact, though, because China and its people have prepared throughout history for what theyÂ´ve become nowadays.
The idea of China's evolution and progress may be justified on the traditions of the oldest culture and civilization (as itÂ´s often said), whose cultural richness and philosophies still manage and rule almost the daily activities of any average Chinese person. Values such as persistence, discipline and hard work are still the pillars of China's people.
At the same time, China is a diverse nation as far as religions and beliefs being Buddhism, and Hinduism the most important ones. Buddhism has three main pillars upon which we could explain many of the behaviors and attitudes of Chinese people: "karma", "nirvana" and "Samsara.
Karma refers to the law of cause and effect which implies that one is what he/she did in a previous life. This law has encouraged Chinese people to act the way they do in the present, in seek of long term relations, and respect for the others, tolerance and several other values that come directly from this deep philosophy.
We can also establish that china is a country whose people are more collectivists that anyone in Asia due, partially, to the Communist Regime and its ideas of collectivism and communism, which still remains.
Another pillar of Buddhism is nirvana, indicating that the Chinese are a society characterized by long term orientation which means they are very resilient and "afraid" to shame. Chinese people arenÂ´t used to say "NO" enven if they disagree with somethin they will keep it up in order to maintain a "good" relation with others. Nirvana would explain, as well, why Buddist Chinese are always in pursuit of a state of peace.
Last pillar is the samsara, the law of birth and rebirth which indicates that nobody has an individual or unique soul.
On the other hand, we cannot leave apart the Confucianism philosophy. More than a philosophy we would rather refer to it as a way of life since Confucius's teachings and concepts are always present in the society.
Although China has a large economic growth (around the 8-10 percent per year), this did not happen one day, and as we have said before, this has been occurring for several decades already, with reforms and political changes that boosted the country not only in economic terms but also in terms of culture, science, technology and development.
In recent years, China and Colombia have signed agreements of cultural cooperation and have even encouraged their citizens to learn both Mandarin and Spanish, considering these two languages of great relevance for encounters, relations and businesses that might be held in the future
To conclude, it is important to say that China can be regarded as a mother culture, with a 3000 year civilization, a solid economic development, a very discipline and collectivist society and all the expertise acquired, China has been setting a new international order and has become not only the world factory but also an attractive partner to do business with and a potential market to take advantage from.
COLOMBIA VS CHINA, DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES
LetÂ´s take a first look at China and Colombia from a cultural perspective in order to evaluate the viability of our business idea
To be able to better understand why we chose to launch our business idea into an attractive but complex market such as the Chinese, we are going to develop an entire and thorough analysis of the variables that could affect negatively or positively the performance of our product. This analysis will be focused mostly on a cultural comparison that will permit identify common aspects between both cultures.
At first sight, it seems like we are dealing with two completely opposite cultures and it may be true, indeed:
China is an ancient country that has undergone spectacular economic and social changes, recently evolving as a new superpower nation, what has created tensions among the other superpower nations over the world.
Colombia, even though the notorious progress, still belongs to the group of developing countries, where poverty, inequality and undevelopment are still widely present. Corruption and the inappropriate use and distribution of resources are unfortunately an everyday thing in our country. Over there, in China, weÂ´re pretty sure corruption exists as well as poverty, although in a lower amount, but there, it is about a different conception of life, behavior and even family. This is due to the Confucianism teachings and legacy and also because the average Chinese still remains entrenched or linked to the traditional roots of their ancient culture.
Hofstede dimensions are a very strategic tool when it comes to analyze two cultures. The dimensions give us the possibility to identify common things as far as culture, even in this case that we are dealing with apparently, two very different ones.
According to these results, both Colombia and China have very similar dimensions, from power distance to masculinity, which refers to the distribution of rolls between men and women. The situation, according to the scores, changes a little bit at the Uncertainty avoidance level and, of course when we reach the long term orientation level, in which china scores one of the highest in the world. But let's go deep inside.
In Colombia Power distance is approached as the distribution of wealth, and, as we all know, Colombia is a good example of how to distribute wealth, money and resources in a bad manner which is precisely what provokes the big gap between poor and rich people today. Besides, Colombia is a country with a low GDP (2009) of 9200, reasons that confirms the distance between rich and poor.
China doesnÂ´t escape from this situation, though. Let's remember that China has a lower GDP (2009) of 6600, which is reflected on the score in the PDI as well, indicating a high level of inequality of power and distribution of wealth among the members that compound the society. However, the acceptance of the condition of being an unequal society may come from cultural teachings or due to the communism system that has ruled the country for years
The next dimension to analyze is the "degree to which individuals are integrated into groups". At this spot, there is an undeniable similarity because of the nature of both cultures: Colombians and Chinese have always shown themselves as group-acting people, being the Chinese people even more collectivists than Colombians, due to a stronger commitment to groups, families and the society itself.
Also, if you have Chinese friends, as me and my mate do, you can realize to what extent this score is accurate. Chinese people use to act and behave in behalf of a group, not being selfish but rather cooperating for the benefit of a group, family or friend. This is directly linked to the long term orientation index since loyalty society members are always looking for well maintained and durable relationships.
The masculinity index says that both countries score in a similar way. Women in both countries have historically had lower status than men, and besides, China implements a strange policy of birth control based on one single child. The preference for boys comes from traditional values and it is believed that boys are meant to take care of families and guide their lives while women are given reduced space in society, being left behind and do not always work because of the male role that this implies.
Unlike countries like Colombia or France, China is not as sensitive to experience new things or to set up strict rules against the uncertain. Contrary to what people may think, they are tolerant towards strange and new behaviors and are not afraid or scared of changes. This is probably due, once again, to their original nature and the state of harmony that they always pursuit. This would be a convenient fact when introducing our product into the country. We are aware, obviously, that our product needs to adapt to the essence of the Chinese culture in order to make it easier for them to get familiar with the snack we are offering.
Colombia is way different in terms of this dimension, is a country extremely linked to conservatism which turns in, sometimes, ambiguity, (doble moral) but still, our country has always refused somehow to changes and the adoption of new things. This dimension tends to be offset by the effects of globalization that increasingly generates integration of economies, cultures and even societies.
In addition, there would also be a difference in terms of relationship with nature, because China is more sensitive to everything that has to with the essence of life so that they can achieve the state of harmony and peace not only with themselves but also with life and everything that surrounds them. Colombia, unlike, is indifferent to nature and doesn't really consider nature as crucial in their lives.
The rigorous discipline Of Chinese has taught us that they are mostly monochronic, there is a preference of doing one thing at a time in a very strict organized way and this can be seen in their factories where the specialization of work makes it visible. Even in the Olympic Games held in Bejing in 2008, with the amazing kick off journey, the world could realize how monochronic strict and organized they are, everything in order to achieve goals the better they can. Contrary, our society has been always characterized by a polychronic way of doing things; Colombians can drive a car, speak on their phones and even have a meal at the same time. The polychronic time characterizes most of the quotidian activities of Colombians.
To conclude and finish up with the cultural dimensions we can say that both Colombia and China's cultures are high context which confirms the similarities according to the scores on the cultural dimensions developed by T Halll and Hofstede.
However, the question would be Â¿could we really take advantages of these similarities in the business field?, Â¿is this going to benefit our product in the Chinese Market?
The answer is yes because that s the reason why we are going to launch our smart snack in China once we have realized that we are dealing with alike countries at least according to cultural dimensions results.
SPICY RICE CHITOS
Food and its derivatives have always been linked to human beings since ancient times. The way people feed themselves is attached to cultural roots, traditions and values coming from the origins of a culture. In addition, it is always seen as forms of expression.
Smart snacks are considered to be the new tendency within the category of small meals or little food before having the main daily meals. The rigid times imposed by globalization where everybody is working at their places and there is no chance of going back home quickly to consume home made products and the necessity of healthy and nutritional snacks was what actually motivated us to carry out the idea of developing a Colombian snack into another culture, in this case, the Chinese.
Chitos was originally an American product that was introduced and adapted to the Colombian market. In North America Chitos are massively sold as delicious cheese Chips ( Cheetos=Cheese)
In Colombia, the entrepreneurs adapted the idea of Cheetos based on Colombians tastes, needs and preferences. They realized soon that the product would better sell with a Colombian "toque" than in its original cheese form and obviously based on a main ingredient: corn.
This cereal, cultivated by indigenous people like Mayas, is present in the majority of Colombian meals, in its all forms and shapes. Probably, the presence of corn might be the key in the success of Chitos as one of the most consumed and representative snacks of the nation.
Neverthless, in order to export new products and launch our idea into China some changes need to be added to the product.
As it's well know, Chinese people are frequent consumers of rice and the richness of their culinary includes spicy sauces that have even had great acceptance all over the world.
Therefore what we want to implement is a little but significant adaption of Colombian Chitos in order to become a hit in the Chinese market. We would like every person to consume our healthy, natural and nutritional snack and recognize it as a delicious product easy to eat whenever and wherever.
Based on different studies it seems that Chinese people prefer salty snacks rather than sweet ones, which would be convenient for the introduction of our product.
Besides, our Spicy rice Chitos could also be seen and regarded as a complement for Chinese meals given the great variety of dishes in the Asiatic country and taking into account that our product is small, healthy and light.
One of the most important adaptations to the original product that we are going to implement has to do with the addition of tiny pieces of toasted rice, coming directly from the Llanos Orientales of Colombia, where the best and finest harvest of rice is produced.
Moreover, my partner and I have already signed a contract with an industry from Cartagena to provide us with a high quality spicy sauce that already sells abroad.
Once we have made the respective arrangements for the two additions to implement, our own family enterprise will be in charge of the development of the product for future exports.
In addition, we carried out a previous investigation of viability in the Chinese market and we found that there are fairs in which international products are offered not only to Chinese potential buyers but also clients from all over, meaning that Chinese people and local industries are interested in products coming from other parts of the world and are not closed only to their culture, customs and food. This has a lot to do with the low ranking in the uncertainty avoidance index.
Another attractive data on China reports that there is an increasing tendency for the consumption of crisps, snack and chips that are healthy but nutritional at the same time. These new type of snacks have been called smart snack.
Our spicy Rice Chitos will definitely satisfy Chinese's demands and needs of healthy, delicious and natural snacks.
We can affirm that our product will hopefully be successful in the Chinese market.
The analysis that has been done shows us that Chinese are open to changes and new experiences. This will be the case with our Sipicy Rice Chitos
Differences in culture still remain between Colombia and China in a huge amount. However, these differences may be offset by the similarities seen throughout our work when it comes to exporting to China and these similarities will make it easy for our product to gain its place and acknowledgement in the market.