Chocolate fortunes: The battle for the hearts, minds, and wallets of China's consumers

The emerging China market was a level playing field for all of the Big Five chocolate companies when they arrived in the 1980s. Chinese consumers viewed chocolate as an exotic foreign product, so each of the chocolate manufacturers enjoyed the same level of prestige and credibility that China's inexperienced consumers associated with foreign goods. Retail prices were relatively high and manufacturing costs relatively low, so none found pricing and cost to be barriers to entry. Importantly, each was flying blind when it came to consumer and market information, and by the seat of their pants when dealing with China's mercurial economic and regulatory environment. How the executives of the Big Five applied the experience, management skills, and leadership capabilities they brought to China would be decisive in how each approached the emerging consumer market and whether they ultimately succeeded.

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