Ben Cavender
Ben Cavender

When US fast food chains entered the China market, they mostly kept rigorously to their American diet. But now they are struggling to gain share of the US$100 billion market by experimenting frantically with tastes and flavors, tells retail analyst Ben Cavender in CNNMoney.

CNN Money:

There’s just one problem: double cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizzas aren’t exactly typical Chinese cuisine. As a result, the chains are constantly looking for ways to appeal to the local population, while keeping signature items on the menu.

“The trick is, they want to keep as much of their DNA as possible in terms of having core menu items that are recognizable in any market, but also figuring out what the hero products for the specific market are going to be,” said Ben Cavender of China Market Research.

McDonald’s in Hong Kong, for example, serves noodles, fresh corn and lychee punch. KFC offers rice with its fried chicken meals….


Pizza Hut offers lobster bisque and mussels stewed in white wine. The restaurant is a popular spot for teenagers to spend a romantic evening.


These are “nicely-decorated sit down restaurants,” Cavender said. “In most cases, people going tend to be white collar — comparatively speaking, these restaurants are still quite expensive compared to a street corner noodle shop.”

More in CNN Money.

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