Day 4: Last day in Beijing.

Our last day started with a very interesting Q&A with Matthias Müller, a senior journalist who is working for Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) in China. He provided us unique insights of his daily life in China. Furthermore, we got the chance to ask an a wide range of political and economical questions. At noon, two luxurious buses arrived at the hotel. They took us on a highly anticipated visit to the Huawei testing Center. Different testing processes i.e. sound and connectivity were explained to us in the labs.

After the interesting tour, we headed back to the hotel but not before getting a generous gift in form of a book about the history of Huawei. In the evening we went for a splendid Beijing duck dinner to conclude our Beijing trip.

Day 3: Beijing: The city of innoway-tion

On the third day we had the opportunity to visit Innoway. Innoway is a successful accelerator for Tech-Startups in Beijing. They helped a lot of young firms to grow out their ideas and compete in the market. One of the most noticable examples is Face++.

On our visit we got to try out new technologies and saw different innovative products in the show room. Afterwards, the guide showed us the offices, where cutting edge technology is being developed. In the end, the guide answered our questions. Officially, the day ended with Innoway, but a large group of students decided to visit a famous rooftop bar to sip on fancy drinks and enjoy the breathtaking view from the 80th floor.

Day 2: Visit Great Wall

After a night with a solid zero hours of sleep because of jet lag and excitement, we headed to the Great Wall of China. On the way to the wall the tour guide informed us about the history of the monumental structure. When we first layed our eyes on this marvelous architectural piece of history, we were awestruck by its beauty. The lush green surrounding created a stunning contrast to the brown wall. After an exhausting walk to the top we gazed onto the far reaches of the wall and felt as we looked into the past. Our trip to the Great Wall ended with adventurous ride to the bottom.

Day 1: Arrival in Beijing

The ZHAW study trip started with a welcome drink in the hotel lobby. Everybody was really excited for the upcoming days. All the participants arrived safely except for two pieces of luggage which arrived two days later.

SML Study Trip 2019: China and Vietnam

China is situated in Eastern Asia on the Western shore of the Pacific Ocean and encompasses an area of 9.6 million square kilometers. China’s continental coastline extends along 18,000 kilometers, and its vast sea surface is studded with more than 5,000 islands. More than 1.4 billion people live in China. In 1949, the Communist Party of China established the People’s Republic of China.

Thanks to its reform and opening-up policy in 1978, China has become stronger and stronger in economy, science and technology. The nation’s economy has been growing rapidly. China’s economy is gradually shifting from a merely production-oriented to an innovation-led economy. Thus, the Chinese markets will continue to open up and Chinese companies will internationalize as Western companies will explore China as a future market and supply source to an even greater extent.

China is the world’s largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods. It is also the world’s fastest-growing consumer market and second-largest importer of goods. China is a net importer of services products. It is the largest trading nation in the world and plays a prominent role in international trade and has increasingly engaged in trade organizations and treaties in recent years. China became a member of the World Trade Organization in 2001. Major projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative are testimonial to China’s long-range plan to play a pivotal role on the geo-political world stage.

Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia and is bordered by China to the north. 96 million people live in Vietnam. Its capital city is Hanoi.

Vietnam was part of Imperial China for over a millennium, from 111 BC to AD 939. An independent Vietnamese state was formed in 939.The nation expanded geographically and politically into Southeast Asia, until the Indochina Peninsula was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. Following a Japanese occupation in the 1940s, the Vietnamese fought French rule in the First Indochina War, eventually expelling the French in 1954. Thereafter, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North and South Vietnam. Conflict between the two sides intensified in what is known as the Vietnam War. The war ended with a North Vietnamese victory in 1975.

Vietnam was then unified under a communist government but remained. In 1986, the government initiated a series of economic and political reforms which began Vietnam’s path towards integration into the world economy. By 2000, it had established diplomatic relations with all nations. Since 2000, Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world. Its successful economic reforms resulted in its joining the World Trade Organization in 2007.

Students in their final semester at the ZHAW School of Management and Law (SML) embark on this study trip to China and Vietnam following attendance of the seminar “Doing business in Emerging Markets”. The objectives of this study trip are:

  • Experience the Chinese and Vietnamese way of life through real on-site exploration
  • Explore the cultural heritage and learn how to integrate the findings into doing business in emerging markets
  • Understand the economic thrust of China and Vietnam and its neighboring countries
  • Learn the first steps to expand one’s individual business network beyond Switzerland
  • Expand the horizon for a future professional career.

My heartfelt thanks goes to all organizations, companies and business partners in China and Vietnam who generously invited our SML student group. We deeply appreciate your support.

Moreover, I would like to thank the entire student group who co-organized this trip and in particular the core organizing team Fredrik Rüegg (CEO), Jasmin Schleeh (CTO) and Nicola Zimmermann (CFO). We are all looking forward to this no doubt rewarding and memorable journey.

Best wishes

Dr. Markus Braun

ZHAW School of Management and Law / Zurich University of Applied Sciences

Brussels on two wheels

Bike-sharing in a nutshell

Exploring a new city while simultaneously getting from point A to B is an ideal form of mobility for the broader public. Specially for foreigners to do some physical activity and to actively participate in the daily life of locals, transmits special experience.

The bike sharing system is currently well-established around the globe and particularly convenient in larger cities. Additionally, in times of increased global warming and awareness for the environment, the idea of bike sharing is becoming more and more attractive. And Brussels with its Dutch influence seems to be a suitable market for this kind of business.

The reality test

We have explored the city ourselves by making use of the bike sharing concept Villo, which is one of the four options to rent a bike. Villo started 2009 as a cooperation between Brussels-Capital region and JCDecaux Group (multinational cooperation for public bike rental systems). The service is well-established with rental stations in all 19 districts of Brussels providing 5,000 bikes.

However, as non-cardholders of Villo, the current bike-sharing service revealed to be very inconvenient for tourists. The rental process is lengthy, barely readable, unclear, using a highly outdated software.

Apart from our experience, a local user explained to be satisfied with the service and frequently makes use of it. Being a “super-user”, he also benefits from incentives in the form of additional free-riding minutes. Furthermore, he reported that there is almost never a shortage in bikes. This is in line with what we have observed at four stations that mostly all bikes were available.

Overall, one can observe that bikes are not as popular in the streets of Brussels as they are in other Nordic cities. Whereas apparently the electric scooters have a higher demand due to their convenience with a flexible, digital rental process. In terms of market competition, these other transport options need to be considered.

The bike-sharing of tomorrow

The current bike-sharing rental service in Brussels is well-established but according to our observation, there is some room for improvement and innovation. When entering the market in Brussels, one should consider a rental service convenient and easily accessible to locals but also tourists. Meaning to offer a service that is easy and fast also for occasional users. A new market entrant should focus on a more digitalized service to differentiate from current providers and add attractiveness and flexibility. Additionally, strategic alliances with tour agencies and local volunteer tour guides are recommended, as it could open up new business ideas. Furthermore, partnering with the Bike Committee in Brussels can open new doors. In terms of location, the bikes should be spread throught the 19 districts including residential areas.

Although the market seems saturated, there is still market potential by offering  user-friendly services. For instance, as a new entrant one could provide a customer-oriented rental service. This would motivate more people to change to a more sustainable and convenient way of transportation.

Pick up and let’s explore
Go local and target waffles!

Swiss High-End Watches in Brussels

Brussels is famous for its market place and the “Galeries Royals St Hubert”. Luxury goods such as jewelry, diamonds, watches and chocolate are sold all around this place. Rue Neuve is the most famous and prestigious shopping street in Brussels with 43’000 visitors every day. However, luxury brands must share the street with more casual and low-priced brands such as H&M, Zara and Uniqlo; hence, the luxurious and glamourous flair is compromised and not as dominant as in the “Galeries Royals St. Hubert”. Based on our observations, Swiss watch brands seem to be present in Brussels mainly through high-end retail stores and jewelers. We did not find any mono brand stores of luxury watch brands. Consequently, to establish a strong market presence and perception among potential customers and to differentiate from already established competitors, a mono brand store could be opened. Preferably in the “Galeries Royals St. Hubert” as it is one of the most visited places for luxury products in Brussels. Even though there is no space available now and the rents are immense, it is still concluded that it is the main place to position a Swiss high-end watch brand in Brussels.

Already established partnerships with retailers do not need to be terminated, since it is recommended to the Swiss watch company to open a mono brand store. The store could function as a flagship store and marketing tool to attract new customers. It should offer a small and exquisite assortment of watches that complements the offering of retail stores and does not compromise it. Furthermore, through the mono brand store the watch brand can offer the ever-important customer experience that is essential to the majority of high-end watch buyers. Through own stores the company can better communicate its values and understanding of the meaning of luxury. Additionally, it is easier to build and foster relationships with clients. Particularly in the high-end watch industry, where customer loyalty is comparably high, a strong bond between the brand and the client can lead to long-lasting relationships. Mono brand stores allow a certain brand to offer complementary after sales services. An additional benefit to the customer and chance to improve the customer-brand relationship for the company.

Competition in this area is existing since mainly Yvan’s Jewelry store is located thereby too and sells various luxurious watches such as Rolex, Longines, Vacherin Constantin and Tudor. In general, competition is relatively high. The usual suspects when it comes to luxury watches such as Rolex, IWC, Omega, Hublot and Patek Philippe are all present. However, the domestic high-end watch industry is basically nonexistent. To further establish a strong position in the market and increase brand recognition and customer experience, cooperations with existing companies such as luxurious chocolate stores could be established in the early phase of the market entry efforts.

To summarize our findings, we can definitely say that there is room and potential for further luxury watch stores. Even though the competition is rather high, the lack of mono brand stores opens up opportunities for new concepts to convince new possible customers.

#Turning Brussels On

On is a Swiss sports shoe brand looking to internationalize into different European markets, with Brussels being the centre of the EU, offering great potential for On to expand to. On is a pioneering sports shoe with innovative disrupting comfort technology changing the running shoe game!

Qu’en est-il de Bruxelles?

The Region around Brussel is surrounded with idyllic green spaces offering the perfect opportunity for Joggers to go for a run. According to Brussels Express, 54.4% of Belgium’s capital is made up of green space. This figure presents more green spaces than other major cities such as London and Berlin.

The average salary in Brussels is 3908€ per month, as of July 2016. Having a relatively above average salary, the population in Brussel can actually afford buying the premium quality running shoe.

Brussels is the ideal spot for sports enthusiast, hosting the Tour de France as well as a city marathon in October. The marathon could present the perfect opportunity for runners to show their On shoes and leave the competition behind. In general, the capital of Belgium is known for a healthy lifestyle, a trend which absolutely agrees with the philosophy of the Swiss company.


Location & surrounding gyms

Having walked the streets of Brussels, we found the ideal spot for On to showcase their shoes. Positioned in the heart of the city in perfect surrounding of other stores, tourists as well as local people will be exposed to On. This busy part of the city will be perfect to give the brand the most exposure as it is very unknown to the country yet.

This has been the result of multiple interviews which were conducted with pedestrians as well as store managers.

By choosing this location the main objective will be to increase the brand awareness.

Proposed store location & consulting team

La situation du marché

The mainstream players in the sporting goods market are represented however there is still the great potential in the niche market for a premium sports shoe brand like On.

On offers a shoe that is appealing to a wide range of consumers by offering a broad variety of colours and designs, however keeping a unique look. Even though it is on the upper range price wise compared to the other major sporting brands, it is not classified as a luxury brand. “The young generation looks more towards style than comfort” says the store manager of Nike here in Brussels.

“The young generation looks more towards style than comfort.”

Nike store manager
Interview on 24th March 2019

However, On aims to disrupt this by designing a stylish and comfortable shoe, giving joggers the feeling of running on clouds.

Running on Clouds in Brussels

Having analysed the market potential in Brussels with regard to jogging equipment we confidently believe that on can make great strides by opening another flagship store in Brussels.

Capture of the team #workinghard

#Michelle #Brian #Vlada #Pascal #Amanda #Luca

Premium fashion brands for men in Brussels

The local fashion and retail market in Brussels have seen excellent growth potential over the last decades. Brussels population profits from being the heart of the European Union and therefore has one of the highest disposable income rates in Europe. Consumers in Brussels favor are purchasing their luxury goods in main street shops which accounts for more than half of the sales rather than shopping centers. As Brussels counts numerous European Union institutions, there is always a high demand for premium business suits for politicians but also businessmen which makes it the ideal city to establish Jizoku to cater to the local demand. (Baheux, Van Doorslaer, & Van Meerbeck, 2016)

Boulevard de Waterloo

As one of the major cities in Europe, Brussels shows a highly competitive retail market, has however lost its attractiveness over the last view years for the luxury segment (Baheux et al., 2016; Delguste, 2017). As a luxury clothing brand for men, the positioning is in the higher price segment targeting businessmen with a keen interest in pursuing a sustainable lifestyle (CSCP, 2012). Customers, awareness for sustainability and readiness to pay a surplus for environmentally friendly brands show market potential in the luxury segment in Brussels.

The Boulevard de Waterloo in Brussels is the most suitable location to set up the store for Jizoku. The boulevard already hosts the most reputable premium brands such as Moncler, Gucci or Boss which makes it the right spot for Jizoku to appeal to its customers and create an authentic and premium shopping experience. Furthermore, it is recommended to open the store on the appropriate side of the street, where all the luxury brands have their stores.  (Mason, 2019)

Boulevard de Waterloo

On the one hand, the brand faces global luxury clothing competitors such as Hugo Boss, Armani Fashion, Hackett London and Scabal. On the other side, however, brands advertising with highly sustainable clothing in men’s fashion are more active in casual clothing or women’s fashion sector.  

Hence, even though there are several luxury men clothing retailers, the combination of premium clothing and sustainable lifestyle shows a niche market not yet fully saturated when looking into Brussels shopping streets.

Interview with locals
Boulevard de Waterloo

The highest increase in purchasing channels can be observed In Store (pwc, 2017). Furthermore, a survey by PWC has shown that for Belgium consumers, highly educated sales associates in the store is crucial and almost half of the surveyed customers expect to be able to see, respectively order an extended range of products on an in-store screen. Consequently, brands establishing a retail store in Brussels can enter the market with their core products in-store and using an in-store screen to display further products. With highly educated and professional salesforce, the Belgium customer is ready to chose and orders from the in store screen.
Jozoku needs to focus on its core value producing sustainable premium suits in dedicated premium location to shape the brand as a whole to create the authentic brand experience for its customers (Meacham, Bloch, & Brusselmans, 2013). Despite the growing market a lot of competitors in the premium retail sector have also identified Brussel to be a rewarding location for profit as well as brand creation. Brussels being an international business hub will also help to create publicity and global brand awareness.

CSCP. (2012, December 31). D1.1_Baseline_Report_short.pdf. Retrieved 24 March 2019, from

Mason, A. (2019, February 15). 48 hours in . . . Brussels, an insider guide to the comic capital of Europe. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Meacham, M., Bloch, N., & Brusselmans, G. (2013, November 19). How consumer goods companies can win in low-growth Western Europe. Retrieved 24 March 2019, from

pwc. (2017). 10 retailer investments for an uncertain future. Retrieved 24 March 2019, from

As the saying goes wine is to France, Beer is to Belgium

Beer brewing in Brussels dates back to the 12th century and is therefore very incarnated in Brussels DNA. The beer drinking culture has even been recognized by the UNESCO as an „Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity “. Brussels is the home of many breweries and has seen a rise in innovative craft beers. Brussels breweries produce over 1,000 different types of beers, which have contributed to a very diverse beer industry in Belgium. Since craft breweries have been on the rise globally, the demand of such beer in Belgium has grown and helped establish many more microbreweries. Belgium today has over 230 craft breweries that produce some of the best craft beers worldwide.

During our study-trip we had the opportunity to experience this rich beer culture ourselves. Interested whether a Swiss craft beer brand would be successful, we gathered insights from locals and tourists. The interviewed Belgians are all very proud of their beer and prefer drinking Belgian beer instead of any other due to the perceived high quality of the beer. On the other hand, internationals mostly prefer beer from their own country. In general, quality is highly important and outweighs the price. Most tourists are willing to try Swiss beer while locals are more hesitant to do so. Both of them mostly associate Switzerland with chocolate, mountains, snow, and cheese. However, neither of them was aware that Switzerland produces quality beer.

Additionally, the local corner stores have a wide range of Belgian beers with only a few well-established international brands such as Heineken and Corona. However, for people looking to try international beers, well-known local bars can be visited while smaller bars mostly concentrate on offering Belgian beer. A well-recognized local bar has had a Swiss beer in their selection but stopped selling it. Conclusively, the biggest threats for the establishment of Swiss craft beer are competitors such as Westvleteren, Chimay Bleue, and Cantillon. When entering Brussels, Swiss beer would need to be adapted to local preferences. Women tend to prefer fruity and light beer, whereas men tend to stronger and fuller beer. For this reason, Swiss craft beer brewers should use a differentiated strategy for the gender in Brussels.

To conclude, demand for the Swiss craft beer would exist yet to a certain extent in the short-term. Moreover, Switzerland has a positive reputation for quality products, which could be helpful when introducing a new product. On the contrary, since Brussels has many existing craft breweries, the market is highly competitive. For this reason, it would be difficult to change the buying behaviour on the market in Brussels. Introducing Swiss craft beer in the Brussels, would therefore not be an easy journey. The Brussels beer is strongly dominating its local beer market and “foreign beers have had little to no success so far” according to Jean-Louis Van de Perre, expert in the Belgian beer market. Therefore, a market entry for Swiss craft beer in Brussels is not recommended.

Andrija, Emanuel, Juanita, Patricia, Prince and Selma