Grasp the Similarities, Leave the Differences

Managing businesses and being a bridge between two cultures has always been our core mission. 求同存异 (Qiu Tong Cun Yi) is the Chinese expression for: “grasp the similarities, leave the differences”. As a bridge does, our main aim is to help to connect different business people to build strong partnerships, baring in mind the behaviors and the believes of both Italian and Chinese cultures.

This year has been a tough one for everyone, and there has been more time for all to think more about what we are doing and where we are going. With our team we also had more time to be in touch and talk to our previous and existing clients.

To constantly hear feedbacks and adapt to the changing environment is one of our main cores strengths: so we would like to share some of the precious insights with our public.

With this interview to Mr. Giulio Zhu of EASTWAYS BUILDING TECHNOLOGY SHANGHAI. LTD we are aiming at understand more about doing business between China and Italy through the voices of the business people involved.


We are a high-level decoration company in Shanghai, mainly engaged in the technical development, technical consultation and other technical services in the field of building science and technology, as well as the design and construction of building decoration construction projects. Doing business with Italian companies is a gradual process. At the beginning, we did not know much about the enterprises there. Through introduction and online publicity, we began to communicate with some enterprises and tried to place a small number of orders. After finding that they met our requirements, we gradually increased the order quantity. At present, we have been cooperating with Italian companies to import high-end furniture and decoration materials from Italy. We also visit suppliers in Italy and attend the Milan Furniture Fair every year. However, due to the impact of the epidemic in 2020, business was greatly reduced due to the shutdown and import and export restrictions.


Q: Please talk about the difficult parts of doing business with foreigners counterpart, Italians in particular.

A: Cultural differences are mainly reflected in the understanding and communication of business procedures. For the Italians, they are used to having sales and orders, but they are very cautious about cooperative negotiations and market input. Therefore, in terms of communication habits, Italian businessmen always say they know, but they do not agree with this condition and immediately implement it. It was only out of politeness not to object immediately. Chinese businessmen, on the other hand, like to make promises but tend to have low enforcement rates. This discrepancy results in a misunderstanding when making an inquiry.


Q: The trade between Italy and China has a long history, do you think the import and export channel is systematic today, and is it difficult to choose the right ones?

A: We think there are a lot of potential customers, but most of the Italian companies are small and medium-sized enterprises or family companies. There are few marketing propaganda and market promotion in China and insufficient external image display, which leads to great limitations and difficulties for Chinese enterprises to choose Italian partners.

Q: Which kind of advice would you give to companies that service the international business?

A: This need to be analyzed in various cases. I think the common problem is that Italian and Chinese enterprises on both sides of the communication is not enough in-depth, caused by a lack of publicity and web information and customer feedback. In most cases relying mainly on consulting company’s introduction to both companies isn’t sufficient, but it is important to have a third party support during the whole process.

This could solve part of the problem of communication and prevent barriers in the future.

Business Fairs and exhibition

We believe that the information provided by the exhibition is very limited, and the successful cases and advantages displayed often cannot meet the needs of each customer, so the reference value is very limited. We still tend to understand companies through field trips, so the ability of third parties to arrange business trips is important.

Q: Marketing communication for the project or enterprise that you deal with: which channels need more support?

A: Marketing communication needs the support of the third party, but Italian companies often pay insufficient attention to the market, so their investment budget is very limited. It should be useful to have more investment in business specialized reports.

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