The Negotiation

In this episode of The Negotiation, we talk with Andrea Fenn, Founder & CEO of Fireworks, a digital company based out of Shanghai. We talk to Andrea about his early experiences as a journalist researcher with CNN and how the fashion industry has changed over the last decade. We also talk about his company Fireworks and why he refers to it as a “post-digital” agency, and how client requests have evolved since 2011 when his journey began. We then turn our focus to live streaming, an incredible phenomenon akin to QVC or a late-night tv shopping channel, except the extent of production is usually an iPhone on a tripod. We ask Andreas to make sense of it for us, talk about whether the Chinese consumer market could potentially grow tired of it soon and treat it as a fad, and is it something that he is recommending to his current clientele. Lastly, we discuss whether live streaming is a viable option for new brand entrants into the Chinese e-commerce ecosystem. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Today on The Negotiation, Todd speaks with Andrea Fenn, a sinologist and journalist who regularly publishes articles and conducts lectures on China’s fast-paced, ever-evolving digital ecosystem. Andrea is also the founder and CEO at Fireworks, which he refers to as a “post-digital agency”. This is due to his belief that brand growth in today’s digital landscape should go beyond vanity metrics such as likes and followers. Instead, Fireworks focuses on actual conversions.
Andrea sheds light on how luxury fashion marketing has changed dramatically in China when the advent of the “new rich” coincided with the rise of social media and eCommerce solutions. Now that there is less exclusivity in the market and more transparency among buyers, improving one’s sense of style is less about showing off one’s status and more about expressing one’s unique personality.
Much like in other parts of the world, influencer marketing is also on the rise. Todd points out a few outrageous internet personalities who sell millions of dollars worth of product on a daily basis by the sheer power of their personal brands. Andrea replies that “there is a constant need for reassurance; a constant need for establishing trust in Chinese consumers.” He goes on to quote a certain Chinese scholar who said that “the Chinese are suspicious yet gullible.” This attitude, says Andrea, applies to both published news and consumption choices among the Chinese.
There is no “standard marketing protocol” in China. Digital trends are always changing depending on whichever direction the largest eCommerce companies (ex. Alibaba, Tencent, etc.) choose to take. In the West, brands build their audiences from scratch using their unique, individual platforms, Chinese businesses, on the other hand, are beholden to established third-party platforms.

What is The Negotiation?

Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.

The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.