How to Start a Successful Franchise in China 2020

franchise in china: starbucks

Franchise Business is a HUGE business in China. Haidilao, one of the most famous hotpot Franchise Chain in China, get a valuation of about 79 times its historical earnings. Yes, 79 times it all history earning. Haidilao is certainly one of the most expensive restaurant stocks in Hong Kong.

Food Franchise is a big business in China

In China, most fast-food franchises are company-owned or operated in joint ventures with local companies. But, the opportunities are not only in the restaurant sector and the number of franchises in various sectors is expected to grow given that China launched standardized franchising regulations.

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CCFA English website landing page

In 1997, China set up the China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA) and, in 2001, the country joined the World Trade Organization, and with the Chinese market growing needs, many multinationals choose to open their franchise in the country.

How to launch successfully your franchise in China?

With a franchise business in China, a franchisee has the right to market a brand of a franchiser in return for a fee. Franchising is now a niche strategy in China because you can launch your franchise in many sectors: food service, business service, or customer service.

Even if western brands are highly regarded compared to domestic franchises and given the cultural, social, political, and infrastructure differences, you need to adapt your strategy to the country in order to successfully launch your franchise in China.

What franchisee buy? A Famous Brand with Good Reputation 

Chinese franchisees are searching for famous brands chain, not something conceptual. Starbucks is very successful in the Chinese franchise business partly thanks to its big efforts in digital marketing and online reputation. China’s first Starbucks was opened in Beijing in January 1999. At that time, even drinking instant coffee was a rare thing in China. Today, in less than 20 years, Starbucks has opened more than 3,000 stores in 130 cities in China and stated that Starbucks’s goal is to operate 5,000 stores in mainland China by 2021.

Starbucks’s Chinese website landing page

If you want a flourishing franchise, you must think about the location strategy:

  • Downtown with the commercial and cultural center, but it has high rents.
  • Special economic zones are the site of many multinational corporations and government offices.
  • Upscale residential where millions of people moved thanks to many infrastructure projects.

For your franchise you also need to determine the target:

  • Foreigners, expatriates, or tourists have high incomes and are willing to pay for a premium service with quality.
  • Business people and young professionals are more receptive to new ideas, possess sufficient income, and value foreign products.
  • Young emperors have an influence on family buying decisions.

Your company needs to adapt its strategy concerning the price because the average income in China is still lower than in Western countries. Consequently, an effective strategy includes portioning some products that can be purchased at very low prices. Besides, by emphasizing the fact that you are selling western products, including novelty products and a strong customer experience, your franchise will be more successful.

Pass China’s regulations for the franchise

One of the reasons it is challenging to start a business in china is the frequent rules change. Franchise regulations also have changed several times, but the Chinese government finally published favorable regulations for foreign franchises to improve new franchise’s management ability and increase the probability of success for foreign companies.

In order to establish your franchise in China, the regulation states that your company must have owned and operated at least two franchises anywhere in the world. Moreover, you must own and operate a store for at least a year. 

To recap, thanks to the Chinese government’s new regulations to standardize franchises, launching a foreign franchise in China is easier. Moreover, a franchise in the country will bring you opportunities and benefits due to the 80s and 90s generation seeking foreign products. However, you need to adapt your strategy due to cultural, social, political, and infrastructure differences between China and western countries. The market is vast and great potential exists in various sectors to launch your franchise in China.

What are the opportunities and challenges for foreign franchises?

Launching your franchise in China has many opportunities thanks to its large development potential.
According to a study, 76% of Chinese families will reach the middle-class level in 2022. These middle-class customers have created a very appealing market for brand franchises.

The 80s and 90s generations are seeking a high quality of life and have a strong ability to accept new and modern products at a higher price. Therefore, these Chinese consumers from the middle class are now an important part of the market.

Hypermarket chains and restaurants franchise have a great growth potential in China. Hypermarkets implement low prices on dairy products to attract a lot of customers. Carrefour and Walmart are two foreign hypermarkets with successful businesses in China since their first entrance in the late 90s. Chinese consumers appreciate going to foreign hypermarkets because the brands are symbols of high quality.

Restaurants also have a huge market demand due to the importance of food in Chinese life. Consumers now like to taste different cuisine and many western restaurants emerged in China to grab the opportunity to start their franchise businesses in the country.

Franchiser Challenges in China

However, franchisers have to face several challenges when starting a business in China.
For example, intellectual property protection is quite weak, and, even if the Chinese government regularly promulgates new laws to tackle the problem, a large part of products will be copied.

For a successfull Franchise in China, you need: Adaptation – Localization 

Another challenge for the foreign franchise is the fact that employees are mobile in China and finding a well-trained local manager can be tough.

One of the most important challenges is the Chinese tastes that are different from western countries. Consequently, if you want to launch a food franchise you will have to adapt your products. For instance, McDonald’s added rice, chicken, or home-grown spices to their foreign-based menu.

Macdonald’s Chinese breakfast

Franchises in China have to Invest in Branding

If you want to succeed in a franchise business in China, branding is the key. Chinese consumers are very wary of unknown brands. If they have never heard about your brand, they will never enter in. This is the truth. The following advice is two essential steps for your franchise business in China:

  • Invest in your Reputation first 
  • And then invest in your Awareness 

Reputation and brand awareness play very important roles in the Chinese market. There are many ways for brands to promote their brand recognition and reputation on the Internet. For Example, Baidu SEO, social media marketing, PR, and Website creation. However, keep in mind that all those marketing channels like Google and Facebook are blocked in China, so you can only use Chinese social platforms and search engines to reach your goal.

Good News, is we can help you with this challenge and all cultural and social difficulties with our reliable know-how in Chinese digital marketing. 

We are a Cost-Effective Marketing Agency

We have already operated many strategic solutions for successful franchise businesses.

  • If you want to work out a perfect plan, contact us 
  • If you want to see our Case studies, contact us. 
  • If you want to know our prices, contact us

Read more about Franchise in China:

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  1. Do you help to protect Franchise in the law part ?
    Western and local franchise brands have developed significantly in China over the past 15 years, but the Legal aspect is still blury.

  2. What Are the Most Profitable Franchises to Own in China?

    1 High Level Investment in F&B: Greater than 5,000,000 RMB 1.1 McDonald’s. 1.2 KFC. 1.3 Starbuck.
    2 Medium Level Investment: Between 1,500,000RMB and 3,500,000RMB 7-Eleven

    3 Low Level Investment: Less than $1,000,000RMB

  3. If you’re a small business, your strategy will likely be very different from that of a big brand.

    But no matter your company’s size, there are three key areas where you’ll need to have a clear plan in order to be successful: strategy, structure and execution.

  4. Hello,
    I represent a Chinese investor group, and we are thinking to take a popular foreign Franchise to China. How can I contact you admin?
    You have wechat?

  5. hi,
    We are a Real estate group and we are searching for foreign franchise concept for China.
    Contact us for submit your project

  6. Franchising can help brands grow faster in the local market if they find the right partners. However, one disadvantage is that franchisors can only maintain limited control over their franchisees and their assets abroad and can face risks by creating a future competitor.
    Today Chiense investors are searching franchise, to get rich and diverse their asset investment

  7. Is there any franchise trade fair in China?
    How to find franchises? How to Make Your Franchise Appeal to Chinese Investors

    1. Hello Peter,

      Usually Franchise have their own business center to contact investors, they also have strong online presence and investors can find contact of business center online. You can search online 星巴克 加盟 Starbucks Franchise and you will find contact how to invest in your Starbucks coffee shop.

  8. In practice, Chinese or foreign franchisors do not all meet the registration requirements on the national file resulting from the regulations on franchises detailed below, preferring to remain in the shadow of the government’s radar and taking advantage of the lack of communication from information between the different administrations.

    Key industries and sectors of the franchise market include F&B, retail, automotive market, catering, education, beauty, health and fitness, and hospitality.

    According to the Franchise Observatory, in 2018 France had 2004 franchisors and 75,193 franchises representing 62 billion euros in turnover.

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