First time at Wide Angle? Thanks for visiting! Please consider subscribing to us in your favorite RSS reader. Like what you’re reading? Use the tools below to share this post with your social network.
One of my favorite things to read about and experience is how quintessential American brands have localized themselves around the world. It’s odd, for instance, to think of American mainstays like McDonald’s and 7-11 offering radically different products and services in their outlets abroad, but they do: McDonald’s, for instance, serves porridge in Singapore and Malaysia, and 7-11 sells video games and consoles in Japan.
And as China’s economy and level of personal wealth has exploded, so too have the number of Western companies doing business there. Unsurprisingly, Chinese consumers have made their imprint on companies like Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and, believe it or not, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Here are some funny, insightful, and just-plain-weird examples of stuff they sell in China:
5) Pig faces at Wal-Mart
Picture me, sitting at my desk in MLC World Headquarters, perusing an off-topic link sent to me by a colleague. “16 Items They Only Sell At Chinese Wal-Marts“. Imagine my horror as I scroll down to find pictures of pig faces – not the heads, just the faces – stacked in a bin.
Apparently pig face isn’t just a delicacy in China – in Spain, it’s called careta – and, in any case, I’m not one to criticize. I’ve eaten even more disgusting things on a dare.
4) Pabst Blue Ribbon – for $44 a bottle
Catering to the growing Chinese business class is proving to be quite a boon for some American manufacturers, including Pabst. Long known as a blue-collar (and later, a hipster) beer in the United States, Pabst Blue Ribbon has a special edition in China called “Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844″, is sold in a bottle that’s reminiscent of a high-end vodka, and advertisements suggest that the beer be served in – what else – a champagne flute. Retailing for an astonishing US$44 a bottle, the beer is marketed to the Chinese public as similar to scotch, brandy, and Bordeaux because all four are aged in wooden casks.
In a country where per-capita income remains just over $3,500/year, Pabst probably doesn’t move many units of this premium brew yet. But it’s an interesting anecdote illustrating an empirical truth – Chinese consumers are gaining purchasing power, and quickly. Read More »