Saturday, November 01, 2008

Free!

Chris "Long Tail" Anderson has been pushing the focus on "free" in his blog and his upcoming book. It is not, however, a word closely associated with our friends at Global Sources. In fact, if memory serves me well, a good deal of their early criticism of the Alibaba.com business model was that "free is not a business model".

Interesting to see then, that they are embracing the world of "free" in response to the global economic crisis. A press release dated 31st October is headed "To speed world economic recovery, Global Sources offers free website to exporters in search of quality international buyers". The emphasis is ours but it reflects the degree to which the word caught our attention. Nil desperandum, though, the press release's 2nd paragraph focuses onto the good old paying buyers: "Moreover, on behalf of paid clients, Global Sources plans to assist with applications for export development grants from local governments in China, including Hong Kong, thus significantly reducing the overall cost of advertising services".

It quotes Global Sources' Chairman and CEO, Merle Hinrichs saying: "This is a very tough time for buyers and suppliers. Because of the current economic downturn, consumer purchasing behavior is changing rapidly. But over the past 40 years, Global Sources has seen this type of situation before, and we know it represents an opportunity for those suppliers who know how to find the right quality of buyer to do business with. And today, our buyers are more active than ever before, because they must quickly replace canceled orders with products that fit new consumer spending patterns."

Over to you Alibaba. The ball's in your court. Will this be an arm's race towards the free-est of the free?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Different time, different strategy. On good times, why offer "free" things when you can make a buck?
Anyway, read this news on a Chinese site (http://b2b.netsun.com/detail--4041006.html) mentioning that on Oct 30th, HK government increases the export promotion development grant from 100K to 150K for HK exporters. And, Global Sources is one of the approved promotional platforms while Ali is not -- this will help GS -- can you confirm this?

Paul Woodward said...

Interesting comment, thanks. I have heard something about the export promotion grant for HK exporters but am not sure how it is applied. We'll check.

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