What’s Wrong With Industrial Food? In China, Nothing.

Four men, covered head to toe in protective uniforms, hover over the conveyor belt, checking off items on their notepads. The product shuttles along the manufacturing process, and is optically scanned. A second QA person, covered so thoroughly they might as well be wearing a burqa, peers out from a slit in their face covering to triple-check the item. Satisfied, it goes out to the loading dock and into the cold chain, transported at 10 degrees Celsius to its final destination: the Chinese consumer.

FamilyMart POS QA Video industrial food[ABOVE: FamilyMart’s POS video assuring customers of their food products’ safe and hygienic production]

What is this mysterious product? Blood plasma? Medicine? No.

This is a China marketing strategy for lunch by Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart. Science means safety, apparently.

This scene plays out every 10 minutes on the in-house video monitors at the counter, reassuring the tens of thousands of office workers and others that not only is their pork chop and rice cheap and filling, but it’s been industrially manufactured in a state of the art facility, not made in a dark, unhygienic cave of a kitchen.

Why does this work in China? Isn’t the global food trend back towards hand-made products with “integrity”?

What is FamilyMart thinking? Can this brand strategy work?

Food safety. And yes. Clearly, FamilyMart has judged that the need to assure the customer about the origins of their lunch outweighs the need to appear natural, and they have invested in that message.

Are they right?

Thousands of prepared lunches move through their doors every day. At their scale, it was always going to be an industrial process — they have just chosen to focus on it.

The question is: can this work for other food brands in China? Other brands, such as dairy brand Yili, go to great lengths to assure customers of the safety of their supply chain.

Yili dairy quality assurance industrial food

[ABOVE: Taken form the Yili Dairy website page about product quality – this photo showing a worker with one of their cows in Inner Mongolia]

But FamilyMart has gone one step further and appears to be unique in not just acknowledging that its lunches don’t come from Mom’s kitchen, but leveraging that into a competitive advantage. Is this a new marketing path, or one-time folly?


The Silk Initiative can help you uncover these insights and more and put them to use to localize your brand concept with our Brand Builder ™ solution. Click below to talk to us today to see how we can help make sure your brand translates well not just into Chinese, but into China.