Eating a wide variety of healthy foods promotes good health and helps to protect against chronic disease. Healthy foods like fruit and vegetables are becoming very popular in China. However, Chinese “fast food” breaks almost every rule of the traditional Chinese diet, which is actually one of the healthiest in the world. The Chinese diet has a long and complicated history and is based on the millennial tradition of Chinese medicine.
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Chinese culture is based on the “Yin” philosophy of “Yang” and “Five elements”
From medicine to martial arts to dance and cooking, this culture is built on a basis of balance, harmony, and contrast. Part of this balance is represented by food. Every organ of the body is linked to an element and a taste. For example, the bitterness is linked to the heart and the fire, the sweet to the spleen and the earth, the acid to the liver and to the wood, the spicy to the lungs and the metal to the salty kidneys and water. In building a healthy meal, all five of these tastes should be inbuilt to keep the body balanced and to defend itself against disease.
The cultural revolution
To understand the Chinese diet today we need to understand the history of the country. For thousands of years, the concept of balance of Chinese philosophy has kept this peeps away from the traditional diet. There were always periods of famine and periods of wealth. There was, therefore, no question of “traditional diets”. This meant that when there was food, it was prepared according to the recommendations of Chinese medicine.
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All this until the end of the 1800s when the influx of new eating habits from the West began. Then, in 1949, a terrible famine hit China, killing millions and millions of people. Only in the 1950s did a dramatic change occur in the way people have relied on food. We began to consume more cereals and pork accompanied by “junk” food. The proportion of energy input from fats has tripled, and in 1982 China saw its first significant increase in the number of overweight people and people affected by food-related cancers.
Start over from the past
Many attribute the blame for this worsening eating habits to greater availability of Western foods. In particular, today’s Chinese diet has shifted towards fats and sodium. The food is steamed, baked, or boiled and, less frequently than it was in the past, they make many more snacks than once (an idea that was unknown before the new millennium).
So today many Chinese are looking for a return to the old traditional diet. Although only in a few years, a decline has already occurred in the general health of the Chinese population. And the good eating habits have been assimilated to the western ones, undergoing the fascination of fast food
How to maintain the traditions of the kitchen?
1. Drink green tea
Green tea helps keep hunger at bay, helps digestion and fights free radicals that cause heart disease and cancer. In China, it is customary to leave the leaves in a pot for a long time and simply add water when a person wants a second or third cup of tea. In this way, less caffeine is consumed than would be done using different tea bags and at the same time avoiding chemicals involved in the production of these sachets.
2. Waiver of milky-dairy products
Dairy products are good for children and infants, and the human species is the only species that continues to drink milk even in adulthood, instead of taking calcium from green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, and fermented calcium-based soy curd.
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3. Eat white rice
Brown rice is white rice with a shell around the grains, but the nutrients of this shell have poor bioavailability. This means that our body uses energy to digest them. That said, the Chinese diet has values of moderation and balance. This is why we must try to use more laughter without having to give up anything.
How To Market Healthy Foods to Chinese Consumers?
China is the largest market on the planet and the fastest growing market, which many Italian companies have been focusing on for years. For this reason, we believe it is necessary to begin to know its characteristics in more detail
Any strategic choice of digital marketing regarding a country like China must go through the consideration that the culture of the Chinese people is profoundly different from ours. Therefore, if we want to try to involve Chinese consumers, it is necessary to understand these cultural factors.
Use of the internet in China
On a total population of 1.38 billion people, internet penetration in China is 47%. It is, at an absolute level, the country with the largest number of users in the world, despite the penetration level is lower than in other Asian countries, such as Japan and North Korea (the latter with percentages close to 90 %). It is a very high number: just consider that it is twice the total US population
One of the most striking aspects of using the internet in China is the surprising growth of users in particular increased the number of social accounts used by mobile.
Instant Messaging and Social Media: the different channels used by the Chinese
In total, social users active in China in 2018 were 911 million, accounting for 46% of the total Chinese population. Of these, 706 million users access mobile social media. If we think that in the world, in total, there are almost 3 billion active social users, the Chinese population in this count weighs 30%.
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Why in China there are social networks completely different from those in the West?
As you can imagine, the main reason why Facebook, Twitter, and Google are not present is that they are censored by the Chinese government. Western social networks can only be used by the few daring ones who, navigating through the gray areas of Chinese legislation, access it from VPN, which anyone can potentially do, but to see from the very low penetration of Facebook – that in China has only 820,000 users – evidently the Chinese do not feel the need.
China has a cultural environment particularly favorable to the proliferation of social media, as already mentioned in the introduction. The censorship by the Chinese government did not avoid the Chinese netizens’ desire to connect with other netizens. The limitations on foreign sites, therefore, first of all, Google and the western social networks, have allowed the flowering of local social media and a social web ecosystem approved by the State, so for every Western Social Media, there is, in fact, a Chinese equivalent.
Online purchase behavior and the impact of advertising in China
The total number of Chinese users using search engines exceeded 500 million. The search engine that dominates with 98% market penetration is Baidu, with rates between 45% and 20% 360 Search, Tencent Soso, and Sogou. Google is used by less than 40% of users, most people doing research in English and who appreciate the excellent level of search experience offered. To simplify the whole speech: visibility in China = Baidu.
In line with Western trends that see Amazon and eBay substitute for Google in pre-purchase exploration searches, 60% of Chinese users search for products of interest directly in marketplaces such as Taobao and Tmall.
Regarding the sensitivity to online advertising, 48% of Chinese users pay attention to paid advertisements and only 1 in 3 states that they have little confidence in ads. The same situation occurs in searches carried out within the marketplace, in which 68% of people notice advertising messages but no one shows confidence in them.
What instead influences more people’s online purchasing choices and their trust are the reviews of other users and, secondly, the reputation of the brand.
Mobile connections in China
Let’s concentrate for a moment on mobile connections: in one-year subscriptions to a mobile SIM rose by 8%, but the most important part concerns absolute numbers. If active internet users represent 47% of the population, active internet users surfing from mobile are as much as 41% of the population. So we are talking about not very high levels of penetration, but at an absolute level, it is 706 million Internet users who connect from a mobile or 81% of the total Chinese netizens.
What do Chinese people use smartphones for?
- 21% use social media applications
- 22% use the phone to watch video content
- 25% use the smartphone to play
- 19% perform localized searches based on their position
- 26% use mobile banking applications
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