Last week, amongst the disconcerting headlines about the uncertainty of the British high street, with retail giants such as House of Fraser struggling to stay afloat, emerged an encouraging story of a small fish making waves in a big pond. As well as being picked up in local waters by national papers and the BBC, the story of Scott’s Fish and Chips, on the A64 outside York, popularity has even been promoted by Chinese state media because of the buzz it has created almost 5,000 miles away.
So how is this local Fish and Chip restaurant breaking into the Chinese market, attracting hundreds of tourists every day and making a name for itself in one of the largest markets in the world?
Focused Target Market:
Scott’s Fish and Chip shop began to capitalise on the Chinese market after President Xi Jinping visited the UK in 2015 and shared fish and chips with Prime Minister, David Cameron. With this viral story, Chinese tourists became eager to taste the classic British delicacy on their own tours of the UK.
In order to cater to hungry Chinese travellers, Scott’s specifically translated its menu into Mandarin and Cantonese, making the Mandarin version downloadable from their website via a QR code so the tourists were able to plan their trips in advance.
With its customers feeling welcome and at home, the shop has seen a 1,500% increase in Chinese coach trips visiting the restaurant. There’s no doubt that Scott’s can provide an enjoyable, international customer experience.
Rather than broadly catering to the tourist market in general, Scott’s focused serving the Chinese market and serving them well. Sticking to their niche enabled them to stand out from the crowd and attract this lucrative new customer.
It’s all very well understanding your own local market, but this specific targeting required a thorough understanding of how the Chinese market works. In order to make sure that the marketing was successful, Scott’s employed Chinese social media expert, Will Zhuang to build their international presence in a way that is tailored to the Chinese market.
With certain western websites and platforms censored and blocked in China, building a global presence isn’t as simple as pushing out a few tweets and providing a translation of the menu: if the customers don’t know you’re there then they won’t be visiting. Zhuang has been talking about the restaurant in Mandarin and building awareness in this foreign market, bridging the gap between Yorkshire and the Chinese hunger for fish and chips.
Public Relations isn’t just about hard promotion – it’s important to understand who you’re promoting to and how to effectively speak to them. A cold impersonal marketing campaign or, even worse, a cultural misunderstanding could drive customers further away rather than welcoming them in.
International Social Media:
Social media is always key to building a recognisable brand, even internationally, and for Scott’s it’s been no different. China’s “Wechat” is the most popular social media channel in the market and, despite its minimal presence in the UK, tapping into this platform got the Chinese tourists talking.
Wechat is often how tour bookings are made, how pictures of the food are shared and how, ultimately, the Chinese tourists began recommending Scott’s Fish and Chips to their friends and family back home. Creating a specific and usable customer experience for the Chinese market allowed Scott’s to efficiently utilise the powerful tool when building their name as a small fish in an international pond.
It’s important to tailor social media content to make your brand stand out on the overcrowded platforms. Generic copy that is pushed out across multiple platforms won’t give your company a voice, in fact, it will only make you disappear even further into the crowd. Understanding what each platform brings and how to communicate to its users is crucial, especially when using an unfamiliar site such as Wechat.
Capitalising on an international hunger for the British speciality, Scott’s created an enjoyable customer experience, not just for locals passing by, but also in casting their net into international waters and creating a worldwide buzz. By building a friendly experience for the Chinese tourists and making it renowned both locally and internationally through a targeted social media campaign, the restaurant is certain to keep reeling them in by the coach load.