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Business Communication

L’Oreal, the French cosmetics giant, is hoping to take advantage of one of the world’s most fertile emerging markets. On the 20th floor of its China HQ in Shanghai is a bathroom where L’Oreal researchers have watched more than 600 women taking a shower. The study’s purpose is to discover how Chinese consumers, unfamiliar until recently with western grooming, use the make-up and hair-and skin-care products the organization is introducing to a nation that has traditionally had little use for luxury. “Pharmacies here have changed a lot over the past ten years, say Paolo Gasparini, Managing Director of L’Oreal China. It used to be dried animals and plants, but it’s moving very fast. In the People’s Republic, the use of deodorant and perfume is very unusual and pale skin is the beauty ideal women strive for. The people and culture are so different here that we have to be very prudent, says Gasparini. But the company – with brands that include L’Oreal Paris, Giorgio Armani fragrances, maybe line New York, and Lancôme make-up is determined to be at the forefront of China’s latest Cultural Revolution. Unlike other aspirational western brands such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, which offer a single cultural icon, L’Oreal can offer Asian consumers French chic, New York attitude, and Italian elegance. Already about 80% of L’Oreal’s 7.5 bn turnover is generated outside France and 40% outside Europe. L’Oreal, like many other businesses expanding into China, believes the market has outstanding potential. Despite its success, L’Oreal, like other western investors, is facing commercial and cultural hurdles in China. This country is not familiar with marketing, so it is a huge job to train and keep clever young people, say Gasparini. “My priority is to take care of our staff; the battle will be won by the company with the best people”. Misunderstanding in communications is the leading complaint among members of virtual teams. The first problem is differences in culture. This problem is magnified when working with teams across cultural borders because of nuances in the English language Next, poor communication does account for a multitude of workplace woes-including interpersonal conflict, wasted money and effort, poor productivity, legal exposure, low morale and high turnover-- but the types and causes of communication problems vary as widely as their impact. Some difficulties will arise because of ineffective relationships and information flow between managers and the employees they supervise. Other problems are endemic to the organization itself, either caused by a breakdown in communications by management to employees, or the lack of the proper systems and infrastructure to enable effective exchange of information.

Thu Hiền, Quang Hưng, Thu Quỳnh, Hà Thư, Hoàng Yến