In the mid- to late 1970s, when Western fast food chains like McDonald’s and KFC were just gaining traction in the Hong Kong market, I recall lively debates about their future potential in China. The China market was still in its pre-opening and reform stage.
Even in relatively international Hong Kong, McDonalds and KFC experienced some speed bumps in the early stages of market entry, and many “experts” remained very skeptical about their long-term growth potential in Greater China.
The discussion in those days about the future of western fast food on the Chinese mainland was framed by a small number of optimists on one side, and a large number of skeptics on the other.
The naysayers focused on the obvious challenges: Chinese consumers don’t like western fast food, can’t eat dairy products like the cheese in cheeseburgers, can’t afford the prices, and the big question of whether the government would even allow western fast food operators into China.
In the ideological atmosphere of the day, western fast food was perceived not only as a business, but as a powerful and potentially polluting cultural influence, akin to Hollywood. That’s not to mention the obvious public health issues.
It’s useful to recall the time just 30-odd years ago when such attitudes prevailed, because the growth of western fast food in China since then has been nothing short of spectacular.
Moral of the story? One thing which is very difficult to predict is the future.
As of the end of 2011, McDonald’s had 1,464 stores on the Chinese mainland, with a stated plan to open another 250 this year. This compares with their 3,298 stores in Japan, which suggests significant upside for further expansion in China.
Illinois-based McDonald’s had global revenues US$27 billion last year. Any way you cut it, that’s a lot of burgers and fries.
Still, wings are beating burgers in the war for the hearts and minds of Chinese consumers.
位于肯塔基州的百盛餐饮集团（Yum）才是中国快餐业的老大，旗下品牌包括肯德基、必胜客（Pizza Hut），甚至连小肥羊（Little Sheep）火锅连锁店也被它收入了帐下。
Kentucky-based Yum brands is the big kahuna of fast food in China, with the KFC, Pizza Hut, and Little Sheep hotpot chain under its umbrella.
It’s useful to think about things which many experts today are predicting could never and will never happen.
Entrepreneurs with an innovative idea, plus the resources and passion to execute it, can often win big by betting against the so-called leading experts of the day.
2012-03-05 21:22 编辑：kuaileyingyu