Eight years after Burger King first entered the China market in 2005, the world’s second largest burger chain restaurant has only 63 restaurants in the country, falling far short of its own plan of opening 250 to 300 restaurants by 2012.
Many analysts pointed to Burger King’s uphill battle with its competitors. Both Yum! Brands and McDonald’s entered China much earlier and both have established significant presence in the country. Yum! China has more than 4,000 KFCs and 750 Pizza Huts, in addition to its China-based units East Dawning and Little Sheep. McDonald’s China division has more than 1,500locations.
However, there is plenty of demand for more than two big American restaurant chains in China’s $29 billion fast food market, thanks to a growing Chinese middle class. Here are a few things Burger King can do to catch up:
Myth that Chinese Don’t Eat Beef
Burger King has failed to play up the advantages of its traditional beef dishes. Instead, it added chicken burgers, believing Chinese prefer chicken to beef. The reason many Chinese consume more pork and chicken is because they are more affordable and readily available. Chinese farmers typically raise pigs and chickens to sell in the market, while cows are used mainly for farming.
China’s incoming president Xi Jinping has struck a new tone: “the Chinese Dream.” In a visit to the “Road to Revival” exhibit at the National Museum in Beijing, Xi delivered a speech, calling for the revival of China into a strong nation.
“Everyone has their own ideals, pursuits, and dreams,” he said. “The greatest Chinese dream, I think, is to achieve great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” He then went on to say that his generation of Communists should continue to build the Party and forge ahead with the goal of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Since then, the term “the Chinese Dream” has been repeatedly discussed by media and on Weibo, a Chinese social media site with over 300 million users. Both Chinese and foreigners are asking the question: what is the Chinese Dream? After all, the Chinese middle class is now approaching half a billion. What is the Chinese Dream that can inspire their aspirations for a better life?
Clearly, it is not Xi Jinping’s version of the Chinese Dream.
Chinese People’s Reaction
On February 1, the Chinese government newspaper People’s Daily published an article to further explain Xi’s Chinese dream, “Power Source of the Chinese Dream.” The article says: “The American Dream is this: regardless of one’s background, with hard work and determination, one can achieve whatever one aspires. The Chinese Dream promotes the concept that what’s good for the country will be good for individuals. It reflects the Eastern culture of collectivism and believes as long as the country is strong people will be rightfully benefitted.”
As 2012 comes to an end, pundits and analysts alike are making predictions for 2013. Many things could happen in 2013, but one thing is almost certain: China will be the largest e-commerce market in the world. Already, the country has the largest population of online shoppers. In June 2012, people who shopped online in China reached 210 million, compared 179 million in the United States.
Chinese consumers have always been a mystery to many Western companies. Little is known about their spending behavior and buying habits. As they come of age, certain characteristics are starting to emerge. Here are five new trends of Chinese consumers:
A quintessential trait of Chinese consumers is that they are value seekers. They will search hard for the best deals, to make sure they get good value for their money. That means they will spend a lot of time researching products and comparing prices. They tend to resist impulse buying (despite some conspicuous spending), and are more likely to get cues from their friends as to which products to buy.
This trait actually applies to both high- and low-income groups, although it is more apparent in consumers with lower incomes. I know this intuitively, and from first-hand experience. Having lived in the West for over 20 years, I am still “good at saving money” (as my husband put it) when it comes to a purchase. For example, I eyed a giclee painting from ZGallerie for several months before I bought it on sale. I searched on the Internet for comparable paintings, and was willing to wait for holiday sales to make the purchase.