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Approaching China with a childlike curiosity: SY Lau, Tencent

China is set to the world’s largest digital economy, expected to surpass even the United States in the next two years in digital advertising. Brands from China have already broken the age old shackles of crossing over to the West, and leaving a global footprint. Amongst some of the brands that have been able to achieve this, Tencent has given the business various platforms including the likes of WeChat that have pushed the boundaries of marketing services and communication.

However, according to SY Lau, Senior Executive Vice President, Tencent, who is also named the Media Person of the Year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2015, even if China is the greatest untapped market today, it is still ‘fragile’ and should be handled delicately, in a manner of speaking.

“It took 200 years for the United States to achieve its greatness and achievements. In comparison, China has only 30 years of experience in market economy,” Mr Lau explained, adding, “What does it mean in this global village that we live in?”

Mr Lau explained that this primarily also meant that China has so much more to learn. By virtue of that, China is a market that needs to be curious and presents an opportunity that should be explored wholeheartedly. “But don’t be too hasty to exploit the returns. Money is important. However, return on investment in China is often created by the eyes of the curious and not the minds of the calculus,” he advised.

He urged marketers and agencies to not just review profit statements of the team when they visit China but take a walk, go down the streets, go to internet cafes and even drink with the locals. “Come to China with the curiosity of a child. Learning the Chinese way of doing things does not make one any less Western. Keep the curiosity and you may just be surprised of what you may find along the journey with China,” Mr Lau concluded.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.