This April I ran the first of a series of International Business workshops at Plymouth University, open to all Plymouth University students and regional business professionals. The first workshop was organised by the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre with support from Devon and Cornwall Business Council. Devon and Cornwall Business Council (DCBC) represents the views of private sector businesses both regionally and nationally. DCBC was made to complement existing services and to provide a forum for discussion, debate and partnership development between other key representative organisations within the two counties.
The workshop was introduced by Gideon Maas, Director of Plymouth University’s Futures Entrepreneurship Centre. This was followed by short introductions by Ben Rhodes from DCBC and Antoaneta Becker from the China-Britain Business Council who highlighted the importance of nurturing relationships with Chinese business partners and the risks of making market assumptions.
We were also privileged to welcome Steve Wickham from Yeo Valley who came to work with our international students and gain insight into the branding interpretations and purchasing choices of Chinese nationals.
The workshop focused on doing business with China and included a very successful live case study from Yeo Valley. The main purpose was to provide our students with an opportunity to engage with the regional business community and put their knowledge and ideas into practice. The workshop mainly focused on market expansions of regional businesses aiming to tap into the Chinese market due to China’s swelling middle class. Currently, one third of all individuals globally classed as having middle class incomes are Chinese and this amount is approximated at half a billion individuals.
International student, Jailu Li gave a moving talk on where she came from in China and helped the audience visualise China’s vastness by telling us that she shared her last name “Li” with 93 million other people in China!
marketing Director, Steve Wickham then introduced the prominent and regional company Yeo Valley. Steve further talked about the future possibilities of Yeo Valley expanding their market to China and provided us with the most delicious ice-cream and frozen yoghurt.
Yeo Valley was very keen to find out student opinions of the challenges that Yeo Valley as a company may face in China. Our audience was tasked to consider the following topics in groups and then shared their ideas.
- Whether Yeo Valley’s products will be fit for Chinese market as they are? Which of the products would be best to introduce(milk, yoghurt or ice-cream)?
- Is the packaging style relevant for Chinese population? Would they relate positively to their current branding/brands?
- There are different marketing styles in different countries. Do all brand messages translate effectively? How else could the products be sold?
- What flavours should be launched on to the Chinese markets.
- From our international Asian students at Plymouth University, Yeo Valley wanted to know what students liked about the dairy products here in the UK as opposed to China.
The live case study of Yeo Valley assisted Yeo Valley with targeted brand development. The students brought up many interesting points and Steve Wickham took home an endless number of ideas to consider. The workshop was of great benefit to Yeo Valley and provided them with valuable market research at the cost of a dozen tubs of ice-cream and frozen Yoghurt. The workshop also benefited students by giving them the opportunity to engage with businesses. Students gained confidence in expressing their ideas, understanding how businesses operate and communicating with business professionals by exchanging ideas and networking.
We found that working on live business case studies with real businesses and students encourages everyone to think and engage with the idea of doing business internationally in meaningful ways. This workshop was so much fun, and we at Futures Entrepreneurship Centre hope to have all future workshops (starting in October 2015) available via webinar as well as in person.
We are planning more International business workshops to start in October 2015 and would welcome any suggestions you may have. Alternatively if you are part of a regional business with international aspirations, plans or connections and would like your business to benefit from being a live case study at one of our future workshops please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org