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Understanding Asia: US Companies In Action

Businessmen pointing at price tag

“A U.S. company in Hong Kong was dumbfounded when it received very few calls after its grand opening,” reports Suzanne Fox in The China Business Review. As she explains, the company’s phone number was “414-1414, which in Chinese sounded like ‘death, want death, want death, want death,’ and few Chinese would dare dial those numbers.”

“You know, you Americans do things the wrong way,” said NEC’s former chairman of the board Koji Kobayashi to a U.S. senator. “You put four golf balls in a package, and they don’t sell. Why don’t you find out the reason? The Japanese don’t buy things packaged in fours. Four means death. And so, they are not going to buy the golf balls, packed in fours.”

Companies entering Asian markets would be wise to consider the effects numerology, the study of meaning in numbers, may have on their brands. In Asian cultures, numerology is not something to be taken lightly.

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