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FreePint BlogChinese puzzles: Info to support China initiatives

Wednesday, 13th July 2011 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Robin Neidorf


If you don’t work with or have access to native speakers of Chinese to help you make sense of China-related information, you are likely to be at a distinct competitive disadvantage. Native speakers are among the most important “tools” in today’s information toolkit for companies entering, doing business in or evaluating the Chinese market, according to respondents for FreePint Research: Survey on Information From and About China (data collection still open; click to participate).

This project collects input from information managers, researchers, analysts and content buyers regarding the information their organisations want and need to support China-related initiatives. To date, the survey has captured responses from over 140 respondents in a range of industries. Their current interests in China run the gamut from initial exploration to mature business concerns with thousands of on-the-ground employees.

Survey respondents are buying information from and about China: 64% report that they regularly buy or subscribe to information products relating to their China initiatives. Another 26% report that they do not purchase China-related content, and the remainder are unsure. At the top of their shopping lists are products providing competitive information and financial information, followed closely by business news and analysis of the business environment. Among the most difficult type of information to find is regional information, particularly relating to non-coastal areas.

In addition to paid sources, respondents also rely on non-paid sources. Industry websites and market-focused websites are the most valuable non-paid sources, followed by government information.

We asked respondents to rate their agreement with a series of statements about their opinions on the validity and accessibility of both the paid-for and free information they use to support China-related initiatives. Each statement could be rated on a 1 – 4 scale, where 1 = completely disagree and 4 = completely agree. The figure shows the average ratings for each statement:

The statements with which respondents rated agreement are as follows (variant for free information in parentheses):

  • It is getting easier to purchase the kind of (find the free) information we need from and about China in Chinese.
  • We trust the validity of the data we purchase (free sources we use).
  • Native speakers of Chinese are essential to our use of China-related resources.
  • It is getting easier to purchase the kind of (find the free) information we need from and about China in translation.
  • We are able to find and purchase (find the free) information that is appropriate in scope and depth to our needs.

The figure shows clearly how significant native speakers of Chinese are to making the best use of content, whether free or paid-for. Average agreement ratings are highest for that statement for both paid-for and free sources.

However, a reading of the rest of the data on this figure highlights frustration with the resources to hand: the mid-point on a 1-4 rating scale is 2.5, and average ratings on the rest of the statements barely exceed that level or fall far below it. Respondents barely agree that they trust the validity of paid-for information (2.61 on the 4-point scale), but their trust clearly drops when they consider free information (2.08 on the 4-point scale).

Free sources seem to be somewhat easier to find in Chinese than in translation; the reverse is true for paid sources.

Respondents agree slightly that they can find paid sources of appropriate scope and depth; they are clearly frustrated with the scope and depth of free sources, however.

China itself represents enormous business opportunity, and yet it seems there is also enormous opportunity for accurate, reliable business information to support China-related initiatives. And if you are a native speaker of Chinese, no doubt the opportunities are just beginning.

There’s still time to complete the FreePint Research: Survey on Information From and About China. All respondents will receive a free copy of the resulting report, including more data and analysis on:

  • Sources for free and paid information
  • Priorities for information acquisition
  • Unmet needs for business information
  • Demand for specific types of information in the areas of mergers & acquisitions, business news and scientific data.

Complete the survey now>>

This project has been sponsored in part by Bureau van Dijk and Informa Business Information


About this item:

Robin has been working with FreePint since 2004, and, since joining full time in 2006, is responsible for strategic planning, product development, relationship management, research and communications. She currently heads the FreePint Research division.

Robin Neidorf ran a research and communications consulting business for 10 years, prior to joining Free Pint Limited. As a consultant, she focused on strategic planning, using information to make better decisions, and creating effective audience-focused communications across different media.

Robin has worked with a wide range of organisations in the for-profit and non-profit sector. She has developed online communities, publications and distance learning modules for a range of business purposes. She is the author of Teach Beyond Your Reach: An instructor's guide to developing and running successful distance learning classes, workshops, training sessions and more (second edition, Cyber Age, 2012) and the co-author of E-Merchant: Retail Strategies for e-Commerce (Addison-Wesley, 2001).

Robin can be reached at

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