Mr. Wu lives in a five star hotel in the city, he’s always surrounded by two big guys and he’s very wealthy, unbelievably wealthy.
He built his position during the Cultural Revolution (I can’t explain you how) and he deals with Iron, Steel or maybe Copper, who knows…
Mr. Wu is one of those clients that pays the day before they are expected and if you take the elevator from his office you will hear your phone beeping because you received a bank transfer on your account. He’s the guy you can phone for “every problem you have, because you are my friend”.
Mr. Wu never reads, he always says that he forgot his glasses, but maybe he doesn’t know how to read and write because I never saw him wearing glasses.
Mr. Wu is building an office tower for one of his companies and since he likes Italian wines he loves Italian designers.
Mr. Wu is important because he totally mistakes the difference between what he likes and what his target likes, or worse, needs.
He’s not able to understand the difference between his opinion, his taste and the other’s taste. He’ not aware of the fact that his workers live a different life from his and they are not so lucky to live in a five star hotel or fly first class.
What happens is that this client thinks that his offices are his living room, so if he doesn’t like white they won’t be white even if inside they are dealing with issues with color rendering and a colour on the wall will be a disaster strongly affecting the work.
Or since he’s very short is hard to convince him that we cannot develop special tables because the height of the table is perfect as it is for the thousands of workes that will live those offices every day, while he live in the hotel.
I always explain Mr. Wu that if he doesn’t like it it means that it’s perfect, because he will never be the target of his products.
The short story is to tell that Chinese design is making today a jump from being local, Chinese oriented, self referred and Chinese consumer oriented to a more international, global perspective.
Mr. Wu can be easily found in an IT company where the CEO transforms his low cost mobile telephone for a popular market into an expensive jewel because of his personal taste forgetting his consumer’s needs and pockets.
This leap will make China develop products by itself sold in foreign market and they will be forced to understand the difference between personal point of view and market’s perspective, between their localized needs and a much global view of demand and offer.
Shifting the focus from the enterpreneur’s taste to the enterpreneur’s ability to understand the market is the new challenge. Whoever can do that is on top of the chain today and will be the new Mr. Wu tomorrow.
The space for market research in a country that has been closed for so many years and that is opening today is massive. Every piece of information that can sneak trough the goverment’s censorship, is protected as a treasure, every perspective on future trends is considered gold.
Mr. Wu won’t be so lucky to be part of this revolution, but his son is probably studying in London today and he will come back with a different attitude, he will be part of that generation of Chinese that will play a critical role in the world of tomorrow, I have to hope he will be I love with Italian wines, like his father.