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Global brands in China 1

Global brands in China

March 6, 2020

The Chinese market is still opening up for foreign products. The development of global brands in China is gaining momentum. Leading companies have plans to open a large number of branches

in China in the upcoming years. Foreign brands are popular especially among the Chinese middle class and the young generation. The Chinese are craving for American lifestyle which results in the popularity of such brands as Starbucks, Apple and KFC. Purchasing American products is an indication of social status and high life.

The infographic below shows the most popular global brands in China. Among the foreign companies with the most significant number of branches in China, we can find examples of the American chains (KFC, McDonald’s, Starbucks), the European chains (H&M, Carrefour, Sephora), as well as Japanese ones (Uniqlo, Lawson).

global brands in China


What are the most popular global brands in China?

The title of the most developed global chain in China belongs to the fast food chain KFC. First KFC restaurant in China was opened in 1987 in Beijing. In 1988, sales in the Beijing branch reached the highest amount among all of the KFC restaurants worldwide. Since then, KFC opened roughly 5,000 restaurants throughout China. The key to KFC’s success in China is serving the local dishes as well as adjusting to the taste of Chinese citizens. For example, chicken twister is prepared in imitation of Peking duck.

Starbucks is in second place. At the moment there are around 3,400 Starbucks branches in China. Recently the company announced that there were plans to open another 3,000 Starbucks coffee shops in China by the end of 2022. It means opening 600 branches in a year which equals opening a new coffee shop every 15 hours!

7-Eleven is in third place. It’s an international chain of convenience stores. The first shop in China was opened in Shenzhen in 1992. Today there are over 2,700 7-Eleven branches in China. Most of them are open for 24 hours a day. Stores offer a wide range of warm food, including traditional Chinese steamed buns, as well as local beverages, candy, newspapers and other convenience goods.

McDonald’s is less popular in China than its biggest global rival, KFC. McDonald’s entered the Chinese mainland market in the year 1990. The first restaurant opened in Shenzhen, whereas the biggest McDonald’s branch in the world opened in 1992 in Beijing. It contains 29 cash desks and can seat 700 people. There are 2,500 McDonald’s restaurants in China. This number is supposed to increase by 1,500 in the next five years.

global brands in China - infographic

Global brands in China

Uniqlo is the Japanese clothing brand which has over 600 stores throughout China. Among 130 of Uniqlo branches to open worldwide in 2018, as many as 100 locations were in mainland China.

American ice cream brand Häagen-Dazs is also worth mentioning. It entered the Chinese mainland market in 1996 and today has around 200 stores in the country. The brand completely adjusts to the peculiar Chinese market. They produce unique variants of their products for Chinese customers, such as green tea ice cream or ice cream mooncakes in the limited edition for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The rapid growth of global brands in China

The development of Japanese convenience store chain Lawson is particularly dynamic. Since 2016, in just two years, it has opened 1,642 stores in China alone! What’s interesting, as many as 800 of them are located in Shanghai and around.

Apple brand entered the Chinese market in 2008, which is 8 years before Lawson. In comparison, it has „only” 41 stores throughout mainland China. However, it is the biggest number of Apple stores outside of the US, which also makes it impressive.

European brands in China

As we can see on the infographic, European brands don’t have as many branches in China as American or Japanese ones. Among the European chains, Swedish H&M has the biggest number of stores in mainland China. Last year the brand also started selling clothes on Tmall, the most popular Chinese e-commerce platform. H&M mainly produces its garments in China which facilitates the company’s development in this country. Among the most popular global brands in China, there are also two French chains, Carrefour and Sephora, each with around 200 stores in China.

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