Delphine Lau, Global MBA 2014-2016, France
A big and unique opportunity during the Shanghai field trip was to visit the almost opened Shanghai Disneyland Park, the biggest investment for the Disney Company (at leat 5,5 billions US$ sharing with Shanghi Shendi Group Joint Venture).
During several hours all the batch was emerged with the Walt Disney Shanghai team who shared with us their way of thinking business and their big challenges to integrate Chinese culture so far away from Western culture !
Indeed, the Disney stories hold a special place in the heart of millions people in Western culture. For more than 90 years, the Disney unique characters have inspired generations of adults. I, personally, grew up with Disney which let a strong print in my imagination. I always became really excited when visiting the Paris Disneyland park and each year I looked forward to watching the new happy end Disney movie.
So when you know that Chinese people did not grow up with Disney characters and that the Chinese popular stories should end up sadly, how do you think that Disney Company would be able to integrate a traditional Disney theme park in the heart of China?
Through important and deep market research, Disney understood that Chinese people wanted the traditional Disney experience even though they did not bear in them the Disney culture. But Disney had also this certitude that they would fully enjoy if they felt comfortable with Chinese culture reference. Thus Disney company created and built all its Shanghai Disneyland park following that short motto « Authentically Disney, Distincly Chinese ». In other words, enjoy a full disney experience with the Chinese way of life and Disney stories knowledge.
Disney company decided to build the park in a style similar to Disney’s other magic Kingdom style parks. But in order to make the Chinese people more familiar with the park, Disney Company adapted the Park to Chinese culture specificity through powerful details which combined Disney stories and characters to attractions specifically designed for Chinese guests. For example, Main Street, which is the first themed land inside the main entrance of the Disneyland park and represents a early-20th-century small-town America, has been replaced by Mickey Avenue. By visiting Mickey Avenue, Chinese guests are invited to discover the past of Mickey and Disneyland roots.
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But integrating China culture is not only the biggest challenge facing by Disney. Another one is to achieve performance according to Disney traditional high expectations and requirements. Disney will have to develop and maintain an innovative and efficient supply chain, as vendors and human capital. As most of the employees would be hired locally, Disney would also have to face with training people to reach the best international practice.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed that company visit because we had that opportunity to enter in the Disney atmosphere and get the global pictures of the business. To sell a product that is not an item but an experience is very challenging and requires the best practices at each level of the project.