Lessons For Doing Business In China

HAVING operated in China for the last three decades, K.K. Chua has seen the country evolve, both in terms of its growing wealth and its strengthening global influence.

Riding this growth spurt, the direct selling brand he represents, Mary Kay, has become the number 2 cosmetic brand in China, and the leading skin care brand. And it is spreading its reach into the rest of the region.

Chua, who as been involved in a variety of industries, ranging from printing, publishing, and movies has taken direct marketing of cosmetics to a level where it is viewed as a way of bringing meaning to women’s lives.

“There are currently 7,500 cosmetic brand in China,” Chua explains. The idea of scale often baffles those new to doing business in China. But the country’s entry into the modern world has complicated matters.

“To be able to build a brand now is extremely challenging. Building Mary Kay 22 years ago was a lot easier. Now it has become a very expensive exercise.”

The need for key opinion leaders and social media platforms drive the cost up.

The Mary Kay Way

In the first of a series of interviews with STORM.SG, Chua talks about doing business in China. How he is “cautiously aggressive” in his approach, and why he feels technology is key to success.


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Marco Polo Award, K.K. ChuaAs the only Singaporean to have been bestowed the Marco Polo Award, Chua’s contribution to building connections has not gone unnoticed by the Chinese authorities.

According to Chua, the three biggest opportunities are: Internet sales; Fintech and the new Silk Route 2.0.

And for Singaporeans venturing out, he has three pieces of advice: Be adventurous; take risks; be humble.

Lessons that can be adopted by all levels of society and leadership.

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