5 Characteristics of Typical Chinese Clients

Date: September 22, 2012 Categories: Design Comments: 4 Comments Share:

Here are 5 typical characteristics (generalized and a bit exaggerated though) of Chinese clients who hire a product design consultancy to help them developing a product.

1) They treat consultancies as vendors. A vendor delivers a product after an order. Therefore the client does not expect a process of design iteration. They do not expect any risk. They sit and wait for the vendor to deliver without collaboration at all.

2) They expect more than what was agreed in a contract, because they often have no clear idea what they really want or expect from the beginning, as they are inexperienced in new product development. They learn during the process, and ask for more.

3) They often do not understand what it takes to create innovation. They set unrealistic expectations and goals. They do not understand that innovation takes time, money and risk. They do not understand that their own capabilities are limiting themselves. They cannot accept failures. The product has to be perfect. They are comparing everything with the iPhone, but they do not understand the real innovation behind the whole product/system.

4) They think they are the designers and want the designer just to draw their ideas out. They simply do not trust the designer.

5) They gather as much people (5-10) as possible for any design review meetings, and 99% of them do no contribute  at all.


Again, all the above are not always true, but often recognizable for designers working in China. So what’s in for us? As design consultants, we need to learn working with these clients. Both parties need to adapt.

By the way, the text on the t-shirt is reflecting what clients usually ask for a design: we need it fast, cheap and good

The designers respond with: it’s going to be ugly, it takes time, costs more money, or it just cannot exist.

4 Responses to "5 Characteristics of Typical Chinese Clients"

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  1. Waikit Chung

    May 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Barbara,

    Thank you for placing a comment! Yeah, I tried to put a bit of humor to it. Sometimes we should get not too serious about our frustrations.


  2. Barbara

    May 16, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Dear Waikit,

    I love the T-shirt!
    Point 4 – as funny as your description sounds, I know how this feels.
    You are absolutely right, working with Chinese clients being a consultant is not always easy…. I think it is important to emphasize on the design targets and time frame agreed on during every review meeting, to decrease the constant risk of change or project scope explosion.
    You wrote a very funny summary of the reality that we are facing everyday!


  3. Waikit Chung

    December 25, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Hi JS,

    So how do you think I can help you?


  4. Js Salisbury

    December 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Help! I am here in China fir first time developing new line as designer and cannot seem to wrap my head around this process. I am old school designer, before computers and when it was me a patternmaker and a sewer.

    Now, communication though the agent I feel as if I have lost my touchstone and my innovation and creativity with it.

    I realize it is hard at first and as I am learning will become easier for next time but I feel so “fish out of water” and unorganized. …. and time- OMG it takes so much time because its not just my line its others too. I have already blown my schedule for duplicates in time for the shows.

    Frustrated in a foreign land

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