Cochlear’s successful export relationship with Japan and China
Cochlear’s patience, determination and bold financial decisions have been the key toaccessing the unchartered Japanese and Chinese biotechnology markets. It hassucceeded where many large Australian companies have failed. This achievement isreflected by an award from the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong for itssuccess in the Asia-Pacific region in October 2001.To examine the reasons for Cochlear’s success it is necessary to understand how thevision and product developed. As the bionic ear became a reality, the commercialaspect needed to become more sophisticated. This resulted in Cochlear commencingoperations as the internationally recognised Cochlear Ltd.The sequential development of Cochlear’s three main international markets, America,Japan and China, is a critical factor to their success. It is argued that Cochlear’sachievements in Asia would not have occurred if its international standing did not beginin the US. Cochlear’s American experience allowed them to develop connections andtrial their business etiquette and culture in a familiar market. They needed all theexperience and adaptability that they could extract from America in order to tackle thetougher Asian biotechnology industries.Cochlear’s distinct advantage over other Australian firms came with the nature of theirindustry. Japanese and Chinese markets require patience, therefore Cochlear’s bionicear devices suit these markets because they take considerable time to research anddevelop, let alone implement. This complements Cochlear’s approach becauseextracting profit from trade with Asia is often a long-term process. Thus, Cochlear hasidentified and acted upon the fact that it must first raise awareness of hearingdeficiencies and the potential success a device may have. Whilst establishing neo-nataltesting programmes takes time and money, they are particularly important given that thedevices offer maximum results to children under the age of six. If a child with a hearingdeficiency can be identified in the womb or as an infant, this increases the opportunityfor parents to organise further testing and the necessary implantation while the childremains fully receptive to the device.Cochlear must also train medical professionals in the implant and rehabilitation processand obtain financial support. Their success in the Japanese and Chinese markets can,in part, be attributed to the identification of these issues and their ability to actualisethem.The issue of reimbursement is one that will continue to hinder Cochlear’s development.Without reimbursement, Cochlear’s devices cannot reach as many potential candidatesdue to the prohibitive costs associated with the implementation of the devices. For thisreason it will be seen that Cochlear constantly work on developing appropriate financialprogrammes to increase the availability of the device.