In March, Carlson
Marketing opened its first office in mainland China. The
Shanghai branch is headed by Gabi Kool, managing director, China,
and executive vice president, Asia-Pacific. M&C spoke
with Kool about this new market.
companies currently employ incentive programs ?
Kool: Yes, mainly for
gift incentives and recognition programs, which are used as staff
retention strategies. In fact, China-based companies are among the
three biggest users of employee recognition programs in
M&C:Will this area
continue to grow?
Kool: Companies are
struggling to manage the explosive growth in mainland China. The
fight for market share is turning more and more into a fight for
the available talent in the market. Most China-based companies are
experiencing high annual staff turnover rates, with employees
moving for financial and personal development gains. With China’s
accession to the World Trade Organization coming up, the importance
of sustaining and growing an engaged work force will become even
M&C: Who is running
these existing programs?
Kool: Most of them are
believed to be managed in-house. The Chinese motivation/incentive
firms seem to be strong on the sourcing [supplying merchandise and
gifts] side of the business but presumably still lack the
experience in designing performance improvement programs. This is
an area where Carlson will focus initially.
M&C:Do you think
incentive travel will ever catch on in China?
Kool: I think it will
eventually catch on with Chinese firms, but it will take some time
before there will be adequate funding made available within the
companies to do this in a similar style to U.S. incentive programs.
Chinese management is very eager to travel, since most of these
individuals were not in a position to do so in the past.
Whether travel-based programs will take the form of a pure
incentive trip is still to be seen, but in speaking to one of the
banks here, we sensed that there may be a market for a combination
of overseas training, incentive trips and relationship