The difference between “wang” and “woef”

I’ve now taken two months of Mandarin classes, and last week our teacher taught us the words for cat (māo) and dog (gǒu) — and as a sort of fun extracurricular, she also explained the sounds they make: “miaow” and “wang” — or rather; how those sounds are perceived by Chinese. In the Netherlands, a […]

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Through the open doorway

(A version of this also appeared on China Daily.) I find debates on objective reality not in the least useful, because eventually you arrive at the question whether all of the truths on which we base ourselves are true. And the answer has to be yes. Even if the truths we hold true would be […]

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China’s young identity market

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.) It’s hard to imagine how different China was only fifty years ago. Chinese people largely dressed the same, ate the same food in cantinas and decorated their homes in similar fashion. Few brands were known, most originating from before the Japanese Occupation, the civil war and the tumultuous 50s, 60s and […]

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The blank canvas that is Shanghai

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.) When you look down at the city from the 121st floor of the Shanghai Tower, it’s as if you’re looking at a computer simulation. The view that houses 24 million people is insane. Across all horizons, the skyline is filled with exotic skyscrapers and thousands of high rise apartment buildings, nearly […]

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One big café

There’s anonymity in crowds. The urban cacophony of Shanghai creates a wall of sound that absorbs everything. It’s pleasant, like a big café. And with a population of 24 million citizens, you never have to worry about onlookers, because you’re likely to never see them again. When someone cuts you off in traffic, there’s no […]

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Waves

Last week was China’s ‘Golden Week’, when the country goes on a collective holiday. Traffic jams and popular tourist destinations are filled with crowds. So too on Nantong’s Mount Lang, its pagoda providing a view across the city and the Yangtze river. I explored the place and behind the facade, I found this trashed frame with […]

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Western brands in China: hits and misses

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.com) Western companies looking to expand their business often underestimate the competitiveness of the Chinese market. Often, what stands in the way of success is a lack of understanding on what Chinese consumers value and how they shop. But then there are some that have done their research, made local partnerships, made […]

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The false start of QR codes in the West versus China

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.com) Around ten years ago, when you used a urinal in a popular bar or cinema in Europe, chances were you had an advertisement poster in your view, with a big QR code in the lower right corner. Western marketeers used the QR code primarily to redirect people to their advertisements or […]

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Contextual China

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.com, and in Dutch on Marketingfacts) When we think about China, we often reduce nuances to black and white absolutes. Either China is a country with oppressed people and smog-filled skies, or it is the juggernaut that will inevitably rule the world’s economy. Neither of these views is particularly useful, and rather […]

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Modern luxury in China: no more same old bling

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.com) With 300 million rich Chinese consumers, China’s takes an 8.9% share of the global luxury market — although it’s probably more if you consider Chinese tourists who buy luxury products outside of China. On the surface, luxury advertising in China is similar to that in the West. There are all the […]

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