Episode 25: Innovation in the Land of China w/Monika Hansson

15 Seprember, 2020 / Host: PETRA FÄRM

Innovation in China: Lessons for Product Strategy

China has long been known as a nation that specializes in manufacturing and copying other countries' products. However, in recent years, China has become a hotbed of innovation, with companies like Facebook, Apple, and WeChat changing the way we think about product development. In this episode, we will explore some of the lessons that we can learn from China when it comes to product strategy.

Ecosystem-Driven Innovation

One of the key lessons we can learn from China is the importance of ecosystem-driven innovation. Rather than simply focusing on individual products or services, Chinese companies have become experts at building ecosystems that create value for customers across multiple channels.
The three biggest players in China's ecosystem-driven innovation landscape are known as the BAT companies: Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. Recently, a fourth company, Bytedance, has emerged as a major player in the ecosystem-driven innovation space.
Bytedance is famous for its short-form video platform, TikTok, which has taken the world by storm. However, the company is involved in many other areas, including AI research and development, cloud services, and automated driving.
Alibaba is often referred to as the Amazon of China, with a strong focus on e-commerce and cloud services. Meanwhile, Tencent is known for its WeChat platform, which combines messaging, social media, payments, and other services into a single app.
These companies are creating ecosystems that bring together a range of products and services, creating value for customers and driving innovation across multiple channels. For example, WeChat allows users to access a range of services from within the app, from messaging and social media to payments and e-commerce.

Investing in Startups - Speedy Innovation

Another lesson we can learn from China is the importance of investing in startups. Chinese companies have been very successful at investing in early-stage startups, providing funding and resources to help them grow quickly and develop innovative products.
This approach has led to a thriving startup ecosystem in China, with many companies emerging as major players in their respective markets. Chinese companies have also been successful at investing in startups outside of China, helping to drive innovation and growth in other markets.
One of the most notable examples of this is the Chinese company DiDi Chuxing, which invested heavily in the ride-hailing company Uber. This investment helped DiDi Chuxing to become the dominant ride-hailing company in China, while also giving it a strong foothold in other markets around the world.

Service Design - Radical UX

China is also a leader when it comes to service design, with many companies focused on creating products and services that are tailored to the specific needs of their customers. This approach has helped Chinese companies to create products and services that are highly user-friendly and easy to use.
One of the key drivers of service design in China is the country's rapidly growing middle class. As more people move into the middle class, they are demanding products and services that are tailored to their specific needs and preferences.

Long Tail

Finally, China has shown us the importance of the long tail, or the idea that there is value in catering to niche markets and customer segments. Chinese companies have been successful at catering to a wide range of customer segments, from luxury consumers to those who are more budget-conscious.
One notable example of this is the Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao, which allows vendors to sell a wide range of products to customers across the country. Taobao has been successful in part because it allows vendors to cater to niche markets, such as customers who are interested in vintage clothing or niche electronics products.


  • China is no longer just a manufacturing and copying hub. It has become a leader in innovation and driving change in various fields, such as AI research, service design, and ecosystem-driven innovation.
  • Ecosystem-driven innovation is a key approach used by big companies in China, such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Bytedance. These companies focus on building ecosystems, creating apps for everything, and investing in startups to drive innovation.
  • China's emphasis on long-tail marketing and catering to potential customers who may not have a lot of spending power has led to the success of platforms like WeChat, which offer a wide range of services and programs, loyalty programs, and easy communication and translation tools. Companies can learn from this approach to cater to a wider audience and drive customer loyalty.

Speaking of product management skills, have you heard about the Productbeats Product Management Certification Program? It's a comprehensive program designed to equip aspiring and experienced product managers with the essential skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the field. Whether you're looking to start a career in product management or seeking to advance your current role, this program can help you achieve your goals.
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