Chinese gastronomy follows a cosmological and medicinal logic. It’s a balance between hot and cold dishes based on ancient philosophies like Yin & Yang, Five Flavors and the emphasis on harmony between colors.

Chinese food, a philosophical and medicinal gastronomy

Chinese noodles

Chinese gastronomy is a spicy cuisine where the dishes are revived and savored for their texture as for their taste: gelatinous, sticky, slippery, crisp, crunchy, melting, unctuous … The structure of the meal follows this balance: a large number of dishes are simultaneously brought at the table (up to 16 or 24 depending on the size of the assembly), there is no “dominant” dishes and desserts like cheese are not common.

The symbol aspect of food is very present: Chinese people consume noodles because they are long, synonymous with longevity, and red wine because of its color rhymes with happiness and success, even though the white wine would fit better the Chinese consumption habits. But white color has the misfortune to evoke the mourning, so white wine is not privileged neither for gift nor in business dinner.

A new apprenticeship of flavors

By comparison, Western cuisine pursues a more hedonistic logic by accommodating food (salty, sweet, spicy) with drinks, dishes are brought in four courses with a “main” dish. The soup in the West is a thick soup, against a clear broth in China where one will eventually pick some vegetables and pieces of meat with the baguette.

On the other hand, the multiplication of the big chains like Starbucks did not have any incidence on the practice of the breakfast in Mainland China: it remains unchanged with salty dishes and soya milk.

The icing on the cake

What image do Chinese consumers really have of Western food? If we question the least informed, we get this type of answer: “One day, I ate yogurt bread, this is foreign food, right?”. When asked for their opinion on European desserts, the answer will often be preceded by a grimace: “too sweet!”.

Indeed, dessert in China does not necessarily rhyme with sweet, where even the notion of sweet differs. Chinese desserts frequently contain red bean paste, sesame seeds, coconut, eggs, pineapple and dried pork crumbs. The must? Portuguese egg tart, which benefits from true infatuation and national ownership, and roasted sweet potatoes. The taste of chocolate still produces a mixed opinion.

What you need to know before you market your product in China

Yet you know the importance of symbolism and medicinal virtues in food products consumed by the Chinese. Your brand name must be eloquent, especially not be issued from an approximate translation in Chinese that could include a ridiculous pun and totally discredit you. This brand name must have a positive connotation that clearly indicates the main benefits to expect from the product.

In China, it is common to go to the doctor to prevent the arrival of illnesses rather than to fetch seek treatment for an illness already installed. Food plays a big role in the prevention of diseases, with great use of spices. Above all, the Chinese are looking for foods that keep them healthy, prolong their life and give a free imperfection skin. Feel free to highlight these aspects in the marketing promotion of your product.

Chinese consumers

With the recent food scandals, Chinese consumers are increasingly suspicious. They rely more on imported products from foreign developed countries and choose major brands well-known for their quality.

It can not be told enough, a red packaging is a symbol of success and happiness in China. Products commonly associated with other colors in Europe – like blue water bottles – will adopt the red color code in China : this is the case of the brand Nongfu, producing mineral water.

White is a very used color in the sale of cosmetics for its concept of purity, but not only. In its advertising campaign as a sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the Vivo brand is deploying large posters highlighting its smartphones … on a white background. White has not easily associated with food apart from dairy products.

E-reputation, the key to exporting to China


To introduce a new food product on the Chinese market, it must above all give it a reassuring image: be transparent about the ingredients, attest quality control and hygiene using recognized Labels. In addition, Chinese consumers are commenting heavily on their purchases and experiences on social networks, so it is essential to healing your e-reputation.

As e-commerce is highly developed in China, you must be able to sell your products on the most recognized platforms such as Taobao or allow mobile payments via Wechatpay and Alipay. Feel free to talk about your brand on major social networks like Wechat and Weibo. The internet speed of your site must allow a loading and a fast display of the images on mobile, in adapted format.

The internet speed of your site must allow a loading and a fast display of the images on mobile, in adapted format.

Did you know? The model of European breakfast was codified in the 19th century with the import of tropical hot drinks in the cities of Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Seville.

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