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Foreign Credit Cards in China: To Adapt or Not to Adapt?
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Foreign Credit Cards in China: To Adapt or Not to Adapt?

Author: Mike Willis; Stephen Worthington
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Edition/Format: Article Article : EN
Publication:Journal of Asia-Pacific Business, 7, no. 3 (2006): 45-77
Database:ArticleFirst
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Document Type: Article
All Authors / Contributors: Mike Willis; Stephen Worthington
ISSN:1059-9231
Language Note: EN
Unique Identifier: 707539298
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schema:description"A relatively recent area of foreign market entry into China is that of foreign credit cards branded with the acceptance marquees of American Express, Mastercard or Visa. These have now been marketed in a variety of Chinese geographic markets, including Shanghai and Beijing. Like many other areas of foreign market activity in China, the issuing of foreign credit cards-and associated services-in China raises, at least conceptually, the issue of the degree to which they should be adapted or standardised to meet the need of Chinese consumers. Recent research on areas such as education (foreign sourced programs in China) indicate that products and services of high status and value seem to be best delivered in an unadapted manner so as to preserve their international status and image (Willis, 2003). Other authors, however, have viewed the issue rather differently, arguing that foreign companies need to adapt their products and services to meet the needs of the local market since, logically enough, every foreign market is different (Cavusgil, Zou, and Naidu, 1993). Foreign credit cards are of particular interest in this debate because they would appear to carry particular value and image-and perhaps status-to a market such as China. For example, a card, such as American Express, is an internationally recognised icon. This paper investigates the degree to which foreign cards, banks, and card advertising should or should not be adapted or standardised. To do so, the views of a range of respondents across China were obtained. The overwhelming response was that foreign cards, banks, and associated services should be kept as original, authentic, and unadapted as possible to preserve their sense of status, value, authenticity, and international brand equity. This was so in cosmopolitan Shanghai and even more so in more remote parts of China, where a foreign credit card and associated services were associated with the world of the west. This is perceived to be a world of money, success, power, and-to at least some degree-the future of China. At present, it is noted that foreign banks and credit cards need to adopt a degree of adaptation required by law, but this may well change over time. The paper took a more conceptual approach, asking respondents to discuss what they would like to see in terms of their ideal foreign credit card and associated services in China. The passion and conviction of the respondents' views was an indication of how important it was for companies to preserve original, foreign, unadapted products or services in China, particularly when the product and/or service carries a high level of value and status."
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