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China has changed. Are multinationals ready?

Precision, agility, and local co-innovation are the keys to success in the “new” China.


The economic tailwinds that propelled multinational corporations (MNCs) to lofty heights in China over the past 35 years have dissipated. MNCs now face headwinds in the form of rising costs and more agile, more responsive local competition. Their growth is sputtering.

Despite these challenges, as well as a slowing national economy, MNCs are doubling down on China. For those bets to pay off, they will need more than a superior product and brand reputation. Winning in the “new” China call for a new competitive strategy—one based on marketing precision, organizational agility, and local collaboration and co-innovation.


Key Findings

Against the challenge of rising costs and the threat of new and nimble local companies, “being global” in China no longer carries the advantage it once did. Accenture Strategy research reveals that:

  • Seventy-five percent of MNCs in China are now growing at a slower rate than China’s GDP.

  • Sixty-seven percent saw no profitability growth last year.

Despite evidence to the contrary, MNC leaders continue to be bullish about China’s potential—and their own potential to seize new opportunities.

72 percent of MNC executives are confident in their abilities to tackle challenges in the next three years.

66 percent see high expansion towards 2025; only 2 percent are considering leaving the country.

Seventy-one percent are planning to increase investments in China in the next few years; 24 percent are planning to invest aggressively.

Many are in for a rude awakening. To thrive in China, MNCs need a completely new competitive strategy.



The “new” China is characterized by new pressures and trends. MNCs’ success is dependent on how well, and how quickly, they respond. Three actions can make all the difference.

  • Expand the vision by narrowing the focus. MNCs need to abandon one-size-fits-all products, services, channels and experiences. Precision is the new currency of success.   

  • Unleash their “inner start-up.” MNCs need to free up capital to invest in agility and innovation, boost their efficiencies, and create a culture of risk-taking.   

  • Go local. MNCs need to consider creating ecosystems with local companies, through which they can innovate new products and reach new markets.


Wieger Joosten
Managing Director – Accenture Strategy

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