Five Questions with Intel's Jane Price

Developing China's computer industry

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Ms. Price, 48, has spent just over two years in Beijing, first as director of Intel's corporate marketing group for Asia/Pacific, responsible for managing the company's regional end-user marketing efforts in 14 markets. Last August, the American executive was promoted to co-country manager, with co-country manager, Yif Loong Lai, responsible for sales and marketing in China.

She has held various marketing positions at Intel over the past 12 years, including director of worldwide corporate marketing campaign strategy, marketing director for Japan, channel and product marketing manager and business development manager focused on worldwide channel activities. Prior to joining Intel, she was a brand manager for domestic and international brands at Clorox.

AdAgeChina: How important is China for Intel's business?

Jane Price: We look at countries in two ways, first in revenue, and a lot of manufacturing has switched to Asia, including China. Fifty percent of Intel's revenue is now coming out of Asia, and although that is not representative of where purchasing takes place, China is certainly an important part of that revenue picture.

The other important thing about China is the absolute consumption here. Computers built and purchased here by the local market is key, because China is the No. 2 PC market in the world now from a consumption point. It overtook Japan in late 2001, or early 2002.

If you look at the market composition, there are a lot of multinationals, and we now categorize Lenovo as a multinational, then we have local OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), Founder, TCL, Hedy. Then we have another whole group of companies we engage with that we call "the channel," smaller resellers who purchase through distribution but then assemble product. They number in the tens of thousands. Some of these smaller companies may not hit the radar screen in terms of brand recognition outside China or even nationally here, but they could still be very large players in their own province.

AdAgeChina: For a lot of marketers, China is no longer just a manufacturing center, it's turning into an R&D center. What about Intel?

Ms. Price: Our R&D people are decentralized, there are pockets around the globe, and certainly in China we've built out our R&D capability in quite a big way, doing both hardware and software work in Shanghai and Beijing, things that will benefit the domestic market but also becoming part of the worldwide design team.

We started to dial up these efforts in China about ten years ago, not just in R&D and sales and marketing. We also do a lot of other things in education at the K-12 stage, science and education fairs, as well as higher education programs like research grants, internships, fellowships, teacher programs. Last year, we taught 600,000 teachers in China how to use computers to bring their subjects to life. Intel invests over $100 million worldwide a year in education programs. Being a key market, we try to claim our fair share of the worldwide expenditure.

AdAgeChina: In your marketing, do you focus more on businesses or consumers and how much is your advertising localized for China?

Ms. Price: We do the whole gamut, our products go B2B and to consumers. If we can take a global strategy that we helped form, at least have a good representation in how the global strategy was put together, then we use as much of the global work that is relevant to us, as that can to give us a better ROI. But if we have special needs, we do customize.

AdAgeChina: Can you give examples of how you've customized your marketing?

Ms. Price: We launched two things in January, the latest version of Centrino and Viiv technology, our digital home platform, here in China. We did some very interesting things to get some buzz going on, like flash-type things. When the team showed me their plans leading up to the launch, I was worried it would create such a stir that I'd be speaking to authorities! [AdAgeChina: You created flash mobs in China? How was that received?] It worked out fine actually. [Laughter] It was created for a certain type of profile and consumer. Especially for now, Viiv is not a mass market product, it's for people in a very specific demographic with a certain income who can afford to have a lot of digital content. But it was very interesting and targeted, included a Web element, and created great buzz. It worked.

AdAgeChina: What's the biggest challenge to operating in China?

Ms. Price: Two things. First, scale, and being able to come up with the right kind of breakthrough ideas that help overcome scale issues, create the right amount of buzz and interest with the right kind of idea that can melt away the limitations of scale.

Second, the buyer profiles are so different. This is two markets in one, an emerging market and a developed market. In cities like Beijing, home PC penetration is up to 60%. That's on par with any developed place on the planet. You go to another part of China, a tier three, four or five city, you've got many first-time buyers and small businesses, it's two markets in one, and managing the mix while at the same time being mindful that your marketing resources are finite...you can't market to both in the same way. The traditional ways of being able to get scale, target specifically with vehicles like TV, is not as easy to do here. It's hard to hit just the right audience like you can in the U.S. where TV is so focused in terms of programming.


Cheat Sheet:

Who? Jane Price, co-country manager, China for Intel Corp. based in Beijing

Age? 48

Challenge? Overcome the diversity of the market to grow Intel's business in tier three, four and five markets while meeting the demands of sophisticated consumers in the top urban centers.

Top tip for foreigners coming to work in China? "The opportunities in China are immense, but you've got to be very thoughtful and strategic about how you apply your resources. People become seduced with the size, and it is big and full of opportunities, but you've got to be so focused and know your core competencies. The path is littered with the corpses of companies who haven't."

What kind of computer do you use? "My laptop was just upgraded to a T42 model of the IBM Thinkpad."

What's your favorite restaurant in Beijing? "A Taiwanese dumpling restaurant near the Canadian embassy called Din Tai Fung, it's not far from where I live."

What's your favorite hangout in Beijing? "The theaters on Cherry Lane that show Chinese movies with English subtitles. It's a good way to see local movies."


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