Bill Dodson

Localizing your products is the mantra for all consumer products entering the China market. China veteran Bill Dodson discovered the local retail store of Gap uses that mantra, but has no clue what it might mean, he writes on his weblog.

Bill Dodson meets a Gap buyer:

She acceded, “We see Uniqglo as our competition. They are doing extremely well in China. Interestingly, in New York, Americans claim their clothing is too little,” she laughed. Of course, we both agreed, Americans tend to feel constrained by East Asian sizes for clothing. “We admire the variety of colors Uniqglo has, for instance, for polo shirts. The Chinese will buy theirs, but don’t consider buying ours – even though ours are cheaper!” Still, I asserted, GAP had work to do to localize their products.

“You know,” I said slyly, “1969 was a bad year in China.” 1969 is the latest ad campaign for GAP jeans and shirts. The idea is to elicit the idea of the fun and freedom of the era in AMERICA. Some of the clothing even brandishes a 1969 logo next to the GAP trademark. In China, the Cultural Revolution was in full swing in 1969 and no one but Mao Zedong and the most righteous of the Red Guard were having fun.

She hesitated, rolled her eyes. “I know,” she said. “But GAP’s plan is to rationalize it’s offerings around the world so that a store in New York City will have the same as the store in San Francisco and in Shanghai.”

Though its children’s lines are a hit in China, it looks as though GAP will have to go full circle on the localization issue before they’ve figured out this latest historical mis-step.

More on Bill Dodson’s weblog

Bill Dodson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.


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