Only in China, according to Prophet senior partner Tom Doctoroff, can parents sign their five-year-old kids up for an MBA course - and get them an early head start in life - such is the distinctive worldview of the Chinese.

"Life is a battle, and education is a weapon on the battlefield of life," said the former Asia CEO for J. Walter Thompson of the Chinese outlook.

Any brand in China, therefore, must respect these cultural imperatives — and bring themselves into alignment with it. Doctoroff was presenting a session at Mumbrella360, where he spoke about the psyche of the Chinese consumer, as well as the underlying cultural and business drivers that brand marketers should be mindful of.

"Brands, in order to charge a premium, can't just stay there (and do nothing). They need to be active. They need to be a means to an end," he explained.

Understanding the Chinese world-view

"(In China,) the individual does not exist independently of his obligations and responsibilities," said Doctoroff, singling out the Confucian concept of 'wu lun' - the five key relationships of father-son, husband-wife, brother-brother, friend-friend and ruler-subordinate.