Saturday, January 20, 2007

Chinese Bloggers Posing Real Threat to Western Companies

An interesting article in The Wall Street Journal (subscription) on Friday ("It's Called the Forbidden City for a Reason," by Geoffrey A. Fowler) about how bloggers in China have been pressuring Starbucks and some other Western companies to be more culturally sensitive as they enthusiastically try to capture market share in the burgeoning Chinese economy. The article focuses on a Starbucks located in the Forbidden City in Beijing. One blogger -- Rui Chenggang -- took his distaste for the Western coffee shop's location near such a sacred area to his blog. In a week, the Journal reports, the post was viewed more than 500,000 times.

Chinese it seems are much more comfortable taking their feelings to the blogosphere than other methods we might be more comfortable with in the West -- such as complaining about the government in the press.

This means Western companies (the article mentions Yum Brands' KFC, Dell and Procter & Gamble also being attacked by bloggers in China recently) now have to become acutely aware of how their brand can be criticized in the burgeoning social media space.

Full disclosure: The Journal is owned by Dow Jones, the company for which I also work.

No comments: