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Preparing for International Expansion: The Case of Google’s Failure in China


Entering a foreign market can be a remarkable challenge even for highly developed large-scale companies. The case of Google China, a product designed specifically for the Chinese region, is an excellent example of a failed method of cross-country growth, an endeavor that cost Google substantial time and resources. This work focuses on Google China’s launch in 2006 and its subsequent closing in 2010, ascertaining the implemented entry strategy and suggesting recommendations that could improve the attempted marketing campaign.

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Foreign Market Advancement: Google’s Entry Methods

To secure the success of launching campaigns in other countries, most enterprises devise marketing approaches adapted to their economic and cultural characteristics. Google’s initial entry method for the Chinese market was largely based on complying with the censorship laws, necessitating that the content is filtered before displaying (Yeo, 2016). Moreover, the corporation heavily invested in several Chinese firms, attempting to establish a stronger standing in the market. At first, Google upheld the governmental demands but chose to demonstrate notifications stating that a portion of information was hidden. This detail negatively impacted the relationship between the company and Chinese officials, who majorly disliked the notice (Sheehan, 2018). After four years of censorship, government discussions, and competition with rival companies, followed by the Google systems breach, the corporation withdrew from China.

A crucial complication experienced by Google concerned the entry method implemented. Given that the organization strives to deliver anonymous and free access to the Internet sources to all users, the choice to corroborate the restrictions directly compromised the company’s reputation, causing a substantial public outrage (Levchuk, 2018). The lack of consideration towards potential responses and other entry options was a tremendous disadvantage that possibly impacted the future of Google in China.

Overall, Chinese authorities and the search engine enterprise were following distinctly different goals impossible to align: while Google aimed at transparency and knowledge access, the officials sought to control the distribution of information. In this regard, the corporation followed an unjustified assumption focused on altering the availability of online data in the Chinese Republic. The executives were prompted by the idea of serving a broader market, even while censored, which could potentially lead to greater openness in Internet usage (Sheehan, 2018). Nevertheless, such a global shift in domestic policies and cultural attitudes could not be accomplished so easily, especially given the slow pace of change evident in the Chinese culture (Jia & Winseck, 2018). Therefore, although the product was initially positively welcomed, its further development was significantly hindered, resulting in share loss and withdrawal.

Chinese Market and the Elements Influencing Successful Entry

A majority of shares in the Chinese sector of Internet usage is controlled by a search engine company Baidu, a domestic organization that has proven to be a fierce competitor for Google. Baidu excellently fits the Chinese government requirements, being a local corporation that embraces strict regulations and generally resembles Google’s engine (Yeo, 2016). It is possible that Google underestimated the impact of Baidu on the online sector and its suitability. In contrast with its Chinese counterpart, Google attempted to maintain the idea of accessible knowledge, which contradicted its compliance with regulations and presented additional difficulties in collaborating with the country’s government. Therefore, primary research conducted by Google did not represent the market environment and potential strength of the competitors, while the positioning of the product remained misplaced.

Google’s Product Compatibility with Ethical, Regulatory, and Organizational Factors

A considerable disadvantage concerning Google’s product introduction is connected to the issues of distribution and promotion, which are tremendously distinct from the complications usually encountered in other markets. The unique environment of China, which heavily guards the availability of knowledge and attempts to repress the possibilities to access specific information, decreased the potential of the Google search engine (Stevens et al., 2016). Although the corporation initially considered these restrictions, hoping to overcome them in the near future, they directly contradicted the corporate values. Thus, Google was unable to promote the primary qualities of its product, namely knowledge accessibility, due to the media and advertisement restrictions. Such a dramatic rivalry between corporate and government ethics became the major reason behind Google’s withdrawal.

Personal Recommendations to Improve the Marketing Strategy

In addition to the contrasting values, a significant cause of Google China’s decline was the competition with the Baidu search engine. To overcome such a tremendous presence, it is essential to create a marketing approach that highlights the benefits of Google, simultaneously explaining its prevalence over the well-known competitor. Therefore, it might have been advantageous to focus on the distinction between the two search systems, adapting the marketing strategy to represent the product’s uniqueness. For instance, the speed of search and design, categories previously favored by Chinese users, could be used (Jia & Winseck, 2018). In addition, referring to the cultural attributes would also be efficient, as this method focuses on the users’ ethnic identity.

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To conclude, the case of Google’s launch in China and the reasons behind its failure were discussed in detail in this work. Such precautions as entry strategies, extensive research, product promotion, and regulatory factors are the primary elements to be examined prior to attempting international expansion. Although the company seemed prepared to launch in the Chinese sector, the consequences proved that analysis of additional options and reliable evaluations are required to establish a strong presence in a foreign country. Furthermore, securing company presence in the Chinese sector of the global market can be incredibly strenuous without careful consideration of the economic and regulatory environment.


Sheehan, M. (2018). How Google took on China—and lost. MIT Technology Review. Web.

Jia, L., & Winseck, D. (2018). The political economy of Chinese internet companies: Financialization, concentration, and capitalization. International Communication Gazette, 80(1), 30–59. Web.

Levchuk, K. (2018). Why China is a no-go land for Google. Forbes. Web.

Stevens, C. E., Xie, E., & Peng, M. W. (2016). Toward a legitimacy-based view of political risk: The case of Google and Yahoo in China. Strategic Management Journal, 37(5), 945–963. Web.

Yeo, S. (2016). Geopolitics of search: Google versus China? Media, Culture & Society, 38(4), 591–605. Web.

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