Driving the need for innovation
The fact that China has kept growing in the midst of a downturn is no longer headline news, but what is more newsworthy is the idea that the country is gradually moving from being the world’s factory to becoming a global innovation greenhouse.
Many an industry are setting their business compass to the East as prospects of rapid global recovery are uncertain. Brushing off cultural, linguistic and time zone differences, highly motivated players seem impatient to access the huge pull of hidden” brain power in China and South East Asia. Proof of this is Japan’s intense use of Chinese R&D capabilities.
Chinese companies themselves are heavily investing in R&D locally and one of the most impressive examples is to be found at Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology Co. Ltd, better known under its brand name “aigo”. Its dedication to R&D and brand promotion is an extension of the founder’s passion for technology – Mr Feng Jun – who graduated in 1993 and founded Huaqi with only 26 dollars seeding capital, lent to him by his mother. Swiss Style spoke with Mr Feng prior to the Tianjin Meeting to get a glimpse of the Chinese story from the inside.
Making the customer happy
This young entrepreneur believes that by focusing on innovation and research and development, Chinese companies can attract the attention of the outside world a little like Japanese companies did some 40 years ago. In Mr Feng’s opinion, the trend is further amplified by internal considerations, such as upward salary pressures seen in Chinese manufacturing as well as by the country’s evergrowing “hunger” for technology. This calls to mind the recent alarming headlines in the international press concerning price increases on a range of Chinese products at a time when local government is raising the minimum wage and companies are consequently increasing hourly payments.
Along with China’s willingness to grab a considerable share of the world’s top tech industries, further pursuing innovation and investing in R&D looks like the right course of action for young start-ups. Looking back at the history of the West-East strategic ventures of 40 years ago, today’s intensifying tendency towards innovation and technology literacy is merely a logical continuation if not a consequence of this trend.
As the head of what he considers to be a brand promotion company, Mr Feng has a clear view of his customers’ wants and needs and, more importantly, how to market his products to them. His view is that the determining factors in customers opting for a specific product gravitates around three basic questions: cost, ease of use and satisfaction, or, as Feng repeatedly and enthusiastically insists, consumer’s “happiness”. In his mind, the last two aspects are imperative. “We strive to make our customer happy by sustaining a user-friendly approach to our products and by investing in innovation. I believe that technology should be accessible to both teenagers as well as their grandparents.” His approach to marketing is personal, warm and welcoming, as suggested by how frequent words like “friends” and “love” infiltrate his conversation. “Our customers are our friends and our products must reflect love and happiness,” he enthuses with a broad and youthful smile.
Drawing inspiration from cultural heritage
If in the past China’s move into R&D was a well-kept secret, the “aigo” brand has created an entire marketing philosophy under the motto, “China from China”, where their top-notch products are designed to be sold on the Chinese as well as international markets. “Once you know what customers need, we engage our R&D people to create the most innovative design for products both for national and international customers,” Feng says.
In this sense, his teams at the company’s research centres have worked on a revolutionary design packaging concept where the traditional porcelain culture is integrated in hi-tech. An example illustrates this strategy – the “Ge Yao” digital camera. While featuring the latest in digital technology, this lightweight camera’s surprising casing has been conceived to resemble the Ge Kiln ancient Chinese pottery design, distinguished by a unique and artistically cracked surface. aigo’s patented technology celebrates Chinese culture by creating the Kiln “look and feel” experience in a way that allows Chinese customers to “identify with the camera as with a piece of art which draws inspiration from their own cultural heritage,” says Mr Feng.
The new standard in energy saving
For Feng Jun, sustainability is a major concern as well as a great opportunity. He has been fervently pushing for the adoption of a new PC energy-saving standard by the industry worldwide, in a crusade to substantially decrease energy consumption.
“It is a new standard that we think has the potential of becoming an important piece in the sustainability jigsaw puzzle as it would allow for increases of PC energy efficiency by up to 85%. I believe that impact on climate change considerations will be substantial if people of this industry would agree to adopt it,” says Feng, adding that his company took the lead in this sense and is now implementing the standard internally.
Feng Jun is no newcomer to the Meeting of the New Champions, and by bringing his enthusiasm and energy, he will not only add to the ongoing debate on sustainability worldwide, but also share his “happiness and love” with the participants in Tianjin.
Article by Rodica Miron