“How do we enter the market?”

Localising a British restaurant brand concept for the China market

A popular British restaurant chain came to us with a need to launch in the China market, though with an understanding that their future Chinese consumers would come with completely different needs than those in the UK home market. Amongst a range of findings, the real insight that aided in the proposition localization was a deep understanding of the Shanghai consumer – the restaurant “discoverer.” Our marketing mix development was designed to surprise and delight this discoverer in an ever-competitive market.


Tweaking, Validating, and Optimising


“How much do we talk about the UK?” Do we need to focus on specific Italian regions?” “Do consumers want to hear about our world-class chefs?”


These were a small number of questions posed to us when adapting the brand proposition for the China market.


Through a range of focus groups and stimulus testing with consumers, we unpicked the parts of the British proposition that resonated most, and determined how to execute these in a way that was relevant for Shanghai.


Beyond providing a safe and hygienic environment, consumers are looking for photographic scenes to be shared on WeChat more than ever. We tested a range of interior designs, furniture, wall art, and photography to learn from consumers the design cues that would appeal most and encourage them to share. TSI also continues to work with the client’s team to land that interior artwork in a way that’s both right for the brand and culturally relevant in China.


Onto Menu Design


We learned the role of ingredients and dish execution, and how this relates to positioning, particularly regarding that space between casual and fine dining. TSI also uncovered a range of cultural necessities, such as when to serve carbs, how much more seafood the Shanghai consumer really needed, and what should actually be labelled as a side rather than a starter.


Of course, you can test without tasting! We worked with consumers to understand and develop as real an occasional scenario as possible, presenting starter, main, side, and dessert options. The goal was to see which items from the UK menu stuck out most to consumers and what items were not generating any interest. Through a range of product trials, we uncovered valuable learnings around dish flavour, presentation, serving size, cutlery, and more.


Bringing It All to Life


Throughout the groups, we worked with consumers to both ideate brand names with our copywriting team, build and validate these on WeChat forums, and ensure the restaurant name was in line with all the prior marketing mix development and strategy work. Finally, we took all of these learnings and packaged proposition, insight, benefits, claims, product descriptors, executional tone of voice, and much more into a China-ready brand book.


Contact TSI

To find out how TSI can help your business enter the China market the right way, reach out today. 


Number 9, Lane 584 Middle Huaihai Rd, Huangpu District, Shanghai. PRC
Tel: (+86) 21 53098757
Email: joel@thesilkinitiative.com

North America

Tom Sommers
Tel: (+1) 513 607 8136
Email: tom@thesilkinitiative.com

Hong Kong
Washington, D.C.
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© 2018 by The Silk Initiative.