Established and emerging Australian wine exporters gathered in Adelaide in early July for our first ever Asian Cultural Workshop. The event was held at the National Wine Centre, with exporters hearing from leading experts on Asian culture and getting practical advice from industry thought leaders who have extensive business experience working across Asia. The Workshop, hosted by Hiro Tejima (Wine Australia’s Head of Market – Asia Pacific) and Jing Cao (Director at Chinese Language and Cultural Advice), helped attendees become more aware, sensitive and pragmatic in how they work in key Asian markets.
“The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy – the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something that we have failed to see.”
Senator J. William Fulbright
Australian wine export markets in Asia - an overview
The Asian Cultural Workshop began with an overview of the enormous potential for Australian wine exporters in key Asian markets presented by Wine Australia analyst, Angelica Crabb. Free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea have come into effect recently and have given a substantial stimulus to Australian wine exports into Northeast Asia. As a result, Northeast Asia continues to dominate Australian wine export growth, with value increasing by 44% to A$601 million in the twelve months to March 2016. There is clearly huge potential in these markets. Hiro and Jing used a series of cultural scenarios to demonstrate how taking advantage of this potential will require patience, commitment and consistency from the Australian wine community.
Understanding cultural differences - Asian Cultural Workshop
One of the key themes of the Workshop was understanding the differences between Australian business culture and Asian business culture. Australian business culture encourages a linear, logical approach to meetings and business relationships. Bold, confident and decisive decision making is encouraged. Meetings and decision making will go from Point A to Point B to Point C to Point D. This approach to business is very different to Asian business culture, which is much more ambiguous and non-linear.
Guest panellists Paul Byron and Denis Gastin OAM
'Australia sees it like a 100m sprint, Asia sees it like a marathon!'
In Asian business culture at any point of the decision making or meeting process it is possible to move in multiple directions. It’s possible to go from Point A to Point D to Point B to Point C and then back to Point A. Attendees were encouraged to understand that this repetition and repeated analysis is how you qualify and build trust in Asian business culture. This key point was reinforced by guest panellist Paul Byron, Director of Periscope Management, who shared his five meeting rule for doing business in China. Paul will commit to five meetings with potential business partners in China, no matter how slow or fruitless meetings two, three or four may seem. Paul’s insights were complemented by anecdotes and sage advice from Denis Gastin OAM. Denis was perfectly placed to provide real world practical advice to attendees, having provided strategic advisory and marketing services for Australian exporters in Asia for well over 30 years.
Guest panellists Andrew Tierney and Jonathon O'Neill
Patience, commitment and consistency - key learnings from the Asian Cultural Workshop
The perception of time and the need for consistency does come with its rewards when conducting business in Asian markets. Guest panellist Jonathon O’Neill, Export Manager for Angove Family Winemakers, explained how this patience can pay off. Jonathon explained how importers and distributors in Asia are generally prepared to remain loyal through thick and thin, unlike their Western counterparts. While it has taken a large investment of learning and time, the reward has been a valuable export market in Japan for Angove.
A better understanding business etiquette in Asia
Another key theme of the Workshop was business etiquette. Topics like the golden rules for exchanging business cards, gifting practices, bowing in Japan and seating arrangements in meetings where all covered. Guest panellist Andrew Tierney, Sales and Export Manager for Torbreck in the Barossa Valley, has almost twenty years’ experience working across Asia and around the world. While keen to remind audiences that there is no silver bullet for ensuring success when conducting business in Asia, Andrew implored attendees to do what they could to understand Asian business culture and put their learnings into action. He assured attendees that their efforts would be greatly appreciated and respected.
Practical advice, insights and lessons from the Asian Cultural Workshop
There were many other topics covered at the Asian Cultural Workshop, including winery visits and cellar door experiences for Asian guests, dealing with non-performing importers, techniques for becoming a member of the in-crowd and the appropriate communication tools (WeChat, LINE, KakaoTalk, WhatsApp etc) used in each market. All of the key themes were tied together with a Q&A session with Hiro, Jing and all of the guest panellists, allowing attendees to share their own experiences and get bespoke advice from thought leaders in the Australian wine community. While this was the first event of it’s type run by Wine Australia, it was clear by the end of the day that the Asian Cultural Workshop had given attendees a better understanding of the importance of considering culture when exporting Australian wine to Asia. This ‘acquisition of empathy’ will help attendees to make better business decisions with the patience, commitment and consistency that are required for success in these key export markets.
Interested in the key insights from the Asian Cultural Workshop?
If you weren’t able to attend the Asian Cultural Workshop and are interested in the key insights from the day we will be sharing a selection of podcasts from the thought leaders and panellists as well as a piece focused on the topic of ‘Why we should consider culture when exporting wine to Asia’ here over the coming weeks.
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