By Emma Rennell, Senior Account Executive, Racepoint Global
The past several years have seen China emerge from a place where foreign companies sent their products to be manufactured to an innovation powerhouse that can hold its own on the world stage. Driven by strong government support behind key segments of the technology value chain, the country now boasts the world’s fastest-growing data center economy, the world’s largest number of machine-to-machine connections, and a semiconductor industry expected to nearly double in value from 2016 to 2020.
For their current InMedia report, Racepoint Global, one of the leading technology PR firms in China, surveyed 16 of China’s most influential technology media personalities to uncover their insights into what this year holds for the semiconductor industry and the marketers who work in the B2B technology space. They also shared their views on the changing media landscape in China and the most effective ways to communicate in the era of an ascendant Chinese technology sector.
As China continues to put policy weight behind becoming the world’s leading semiconductor and microchip manufacturer by 2030, homegrown innovation is becoming a primary focus – but that doesn’t necessarily mean western firms will be shut out or left behind.
Conversations with the media
When Racepoint Global surveyed Chinese media influencers, more than half of respondents agreed that social media has already become as important as traditional platforms for China’s media, and collectively over half of those surveyed favored multimedia formats (infographics led at 32%, with video and motion graphics following at 16% and 12% respectively.)
But don’t throw away the press folders just yet—the good old-fashioned press release is alive and well in China. In fact, the largest group of those surveyed (40%) said that it’s how they prefer to receive updates.
So how do they want to be reached? The most popular channels cited were email (56%) and WeChat (40%), leaving only 4% who prefer phone calls (though we can vouch from experience that the follow-up call is just as important in China as anywhere else).
When asked which outlets they follow for news and updates, the most popular Western media cited were Wired, EE Times—a testament to the dominance of the semiconductor industry in China—and CNET.
The technology landscape
Media surveyed predict that increased demand for servers and data centers will be the strongest driver for fueling growth in the semiconductor industry this year, in China as well as globally.
With domestic chip production showing no signs of slowing down, nearly all media agreed that China will continue to invest in new fabs (88%), and will have a greater voice within the global semiconductor industry (87%).
Industrial and automation were predicted by media surveyed to be the most popular growth areas for the Internet of Things in the China market for 2017, with most agreeing that industrial applications would also generate the highest demand for FPGA products over the next 5 years.
In terms of end applications leading the pace of IoT innovation and adoption in China, nearly half of respondents picked the smart home sector, which is expected to see huge growth thanks to rising incomes and a strong manufacturing sector coupled with support for tech innovation.
Opportunities for foreign firms
While the Chinese government favors growth in its own chipmakers, almost two-thirds of media surveyed do not believe Chinese companies alone can satisfy the country’s growing demand for semiconductor products. Meanwhile, the leading threat to western companies in China, as voted by media surveyed was insufficient local R&D talent.
What this all means for western chipmakers and tech firms is that China can no longer be seen as minor player but as a partner on equal footing and a fertile ground for
innovation and collaboration. It also presents new opportunities as a flourishing Chinese technology sector means and increasingly connected and ever-growing middle class. This means that there is plenty of opportunity to support China’s own growth through collaboration and investment in a way that benefits both China and Western partners.
For Western companies looking to make their mark in the new China, demonstrating support and alignment with the government’s priorities is an important step that will help ensure they are welcomed with open arms. No longer can companies simply enter the market based on financial investments alone, they must show that they’re committed to the growth of the Chinese technology sector In fact, nearly 70% of technology media in the survey agreed that developing partnerships with Chinese companies or government bodies is the most important thing for foreign firms to do in order to break into the market. That figure places it above understanding the technology, media or social media ecosystems, or even having a strong physical presence in-market. It’s true what they say about guanxi—it’s not what you know so much as who you know.