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Making sense of the cultural divide

One of the most common business issues our clients have is how to penetrate the Chinese market with their (Western) brand. Recently we concluded an in-depth study on consumption of Western cuisine with the end in mind to drive in-home consumption.


With the increasing popularity of Western cuisine, our task was to determine how we could translate the Western dining experience to in-home and identify the ‘enablers’ to make it easy and affordable for the Chinese consumer.   

We found that one of the current barriers was not having the right cutlery and cooking tools to prepare Western meals at home. Given that the Chinese use about 80 billion disposable chopsticks each year (equivalent to 20 million trees annually), in comparison, 99% don’t have forks at home. While we are not advocating the end of chopsticks which is a cultural icon, there are things you can do with a fork that you can’t do with chopsticks, such as twirling pasta with a fork which Chinese consumers associate with the pasta eating experience.


Hence the fork which was traditionally seen as violent or barbaric, is now associated with the ‘romanticism’ of Western dining, thanks to the influence of Western movies, Pizza Hut and Ikea’s lifestyle section. 

Identifying these ‘enablers’ helped our client devise their marketing strategy which focused on educating consumers and identifying the paths to purchase. 

"We were absolutely elated with your work and do look forward to doing work with you in the near future. The China focus groups were my first and it was a great learning for me. As our brand enters new markets and research is required, I can use that experience as a benchmark and know what to expect, the types of questions to inject, etc. You have set the bar very high. Please forward a list of countries that Acorn conducts research in for future reference."


CKE Restaurants, Inc.

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