A doctor flying from Chicago to Louisville last week had only morning appointments on his mind. Yet within hours, his pre-flight plight would reverberate around the world. Bloody, bruised and manhandled by United Airlines, Dr David Dao’s treatment was followed by what has become a case study in PR mismanagement. Resulting effect; a despised brand devalued by hundreds of millions of dollars. China’s role in the matter is not insignificant.
Among many things, the episode illustrates that poorly managed crises in your domestic market can often flow on to China with a vengeance. Whilst China’s Internet may appear cut off from the rest of the world, there are few things that don’t get noticed – be it through VPNs, millions of Chinese living, studying and travelling abroad, and even state media.
The level of detail Chinese consumers knew about the incident was impressive – right down to the terms and conditions of the lousy compensation offered to passengers if they left the flight and how it fell short of what regulations demanded. When Chinese consumers get a bee in their bonnet, it’s not unusual for hundreds of millions to jump on the bandwagon. Whereas this case can seem a bit doom and gloom, this en masse social engine can equally engage in a positive light.
Little can prepare any brand in China for a United Airlines-scale backlash, however a basic understanding of Chinese consumers and the market can be the difference between costly blunders and happy customers. For that reason China Skinny has put together a free 5-day email course, with concise advice summarizing the key things to know and look out for when selling in China – find out more here and spread the word! Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.