Coffee Online in China: Coffee First, Culture Later

If you ask one “What first comes to your mind with the word coffee?” what is your supposed answer? Italian may say “I know Illy.” Korean probably says “I know Starbucks”. And for Chinese, chances are that he says “XX (name for some cafeteria) is nearby”. Their most familiar thing is different ankle in business chain of coffee. How come Chinese people can link “coffee” better to a cafeteria? It’s because of culture or tradition. For a region cultures of new-coming affairs are not fixed at first. Online communication can sculpture culture.

Traditionally, China is a tea-culture country. When coffee first came into China it was taken as a kind of “drink” instead of “culture”. As a brief explanation of the difference, there is teahouse and cafeteria but no “colahouse”. Cola does take great share of beverage market. But in terms of culture, it still needs to wait. For selling products, advertisement is enough while for selling culture, communication matters much. Instant coffee is product. China now is open for coffee product but not coffee culture. Thus, who has created its own culture around the word “coffee” will win consumers’ memory link.


Chinese people seldom buy coffee powder and make coffee themselves. Coffee itself is a more like functional tool to wake them up than a joyful treat. But cafeterias have brought another kind of culture. You cannot stay for a long time in restaurants or shops in China. Teahouse? Yes. But you’d better go there with friends or it may be a little bit strange. Also, service in most teahouses is pretty expensive. As a result, the selling point of cafeterias in China is actually its fair service and comfortable environment to enjoy your time with friends or merely alone. They have also created their own culture by online communication.

This is a micro-blog post of “Carve the Time”, a famous Chinese cafeteria in Beijing (micro-blog in China is like Twitter):


Instead of coffee, it sells its own brand. And it usually posts some proverbs about life which are totally irrelevant to coffee or even its brand. But the clients like it. They comment or forward such posts and “Carve the Time” will reply. For some clients, “Carve the Time” is like a familiar friend who can make them comfortable both psychologically and physically. This social media account for a Beijing cafeteria has more than 96084 followers now, more than 1/7 that of Nestle coffee account for the whole China. Clients never care about what kind of coffee they actually use, the Illy one or the Nestle one.

Coffee products have already set their roots in China. And now, China is prepared for coffee culture. That’s the exact point when coffee should go online to create its own culture. Coffee online in China: coffee first and culture latter. Create your culture, promote your coffee!


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