Conceptual Equivalence of Tea in the Chinese and French Cultures

free essayThe product chosen for this paper is tea. It is worth acknowledging that McDonald’s outlets in both China and France have diverse tea flavors on their menu. Consumers in both countries are always required to select their favorite flavors once they settle for breakfast. Tea is a vital breakfast item that has been embraced by members from both the Chinese and French cultures. However, there are significant differences in the consumption of tea across the Chinese and the French cultures. For instance, the Chinese culture encourages everyone to consume tea while the French culture tends to limit it to adults. Tea consumption in the French culture is viewed as revolutionary because it is gradually taking over from the coffee consumption culture that had been dominant over the years. There have been significant campaigns promoting tea consumption in France that have been positive perceived by the population. However, the culture of tea consumption in the Chinese culture has been there from time immemorial and it remains a significant culture among people today. It makes up a crucial part of the Chinese rituals and culture in terms of respect, marriage, and socialization.

The availability of McDonald’s outlets in both countries has played an instrumental role in boosting the tea consumption culture as part of breakfast. Many people in both cultures would always prefer taking tea accompanied by a pastry. In the French culture, black tea is widely consumed as part of their breakfast, unlike in the Chinese culture where green tea is widely consumed for health purposes. The functions of tea are diverse across both the French and Chinese cultures. In the Chinese culture tea is offered to seek forgiveness, to show respect to elders, to mark weddings, to highlight the significance of family gathering, and to satisfy individuals as part of the mainstream meals. In the French culture, the function of tea is understood in terms of socialization and interaction among individuals, it is revolutionary, and is mainly used to mark significant parties in the culture. In the Chinese culture, everyone including children, women, men, and the elderly consume tea on a regular basis. It is especially because of its cultural significance in the culture. On the other hand, tea in the French culture is mainly consumed by adults who love socializing and associating with each other in outlets such as McDonalds. It is also worth noting that tea may be consumed as late as twelve noon. Advertisers continue to popularize tea as a vital part of the breakfast menu because of its positive effects on the health of individuals as well as mental sharpness.

The Definition of Tea in the Chinese and French Cultures

Tea is defined differently in the Chinese and the French cultures. It is crucial to note that both countries have culture specific definitions of tea, which tend to match the universal perception of tea. The specific definitions of tea in the Chinese and the French cultures play an instrumental role in highlighting its significance among individuals.

Specifically, members of the Chinese culture believe that tea is a healer in many ways. Yongrui (2008) opines that this is a specific definition of tea in the Chinese culture, and it highlights the reason for the wide consumption of green tea that is mainly associated with the treatment of individuals. The Chinese culture-specific definition of tea tends to match the culture-universal understanding of tea as a stimulant. It is usually believed that tea is a reliever and a healer from different types of heart and brain diseases. The herbal aspect of tea in the Chinese culture makes the definition more culture-specific and limited to the Chinese. It has the capacity to keep individuals alert at all times and boost their concentration levels as they attend to different matters.

On the other hand, tea in the French culture is mainly defined as a social drink because it tends to bring individuals together. Many people in the French culture associate tea with sharing fun moments with friends. It explains why it is not only a breakfast item, but also a drink served at midday for socialization purposes. Berardi, Sevestre, Tepaut and Vigneron (2013) assert that many people in the French culture are substituting soft drinks and alcohol with tea. However, the social aspect of tea is common among the rich and the elite in the community, as most people tend to stick to coffee that has been part of the French culture since time immemorial. It tends to deviate from the culture-conventional perception of tea. Many people in the world perceive part of the mainstream breakfast and not completely part of the socialization process. They tend to prefer other drinks, such as alcohol, in their social aspects.

Core Concepts

One of the core concepts that is associated with tea consumption in the Chinese culture is health. Health is a vital concept that is relevant to the consumption of tea. The Chinese culture perceives tea a vital element for the health of individuals. According to Baruah (2011), the Chinese have a mythical concept that points to better performance among students who drink tea because of the mental strength brought about by tea. It explains the popularity of green tea in the Chinese culture. They believe it is part of their health and mental boost. It matches the universal understanding of tea in other countries where it is believed that children must drink tea before attending their classes.

Another key concept relevant to the consumption of tea in the Chinese culture is ceremonies. The consumption of tea is accompanied by the tea ceremonies that underscore the significance of Chinese art. Taoism has been vital in enhancing the tea ceremonies and improving tea consumption among the Chinese. People are always urged to make tea a daily routine as part of the tea ceremonies. Tea ceremonies enhance the harmony of nature and urge individuals to continue with the consumption of tea in their respective settings.

One of the core concepts of tea consumption in the French culture is etiquette. The element of etiquette tagged on tea consumption tends to influence the behavior of French consumers toward the adoption of tea. Sebenius (2009) affirms that buying one cup of tea in the French culture is always a sign of etiquette and appreciation. It is especially because many people want to show a sense of etiquette and appreciation for other people. Breakfast would be served alongside pastries to highlight the form of etiquette shown to different people.

More so, tea consumption in the French culture is driven by the core concept of socialization. People take time out to socialize with each other over a cup of tea. However, this culture tends to dominate among the rich and the elite in the French society. They are gradually putting aside the alcohol drinking culture because of the tea culture that is spreading at the fastest rate possible. Black tea is commonly served to people during breakfast at McDonald’s outlets and other outlets in France.

Their Meaning and the Role Played in Consumption Myths and Rituals

The aforementioned core concepts associated with the consumption of tea in the Chinese and French cultures have vital meanings, and they play a significant role in consumption rituals and myths. Tea is connected to the myth of good health and strength among individuals. For instance, the concept of health in the Chinese culture means physical and mental strength of people. People are encouraged to take tea every day to boost their body functioning and alertness. The concept of health plays an instrumental role in the consumption rituals and myths of the Chinese culture. Many consumers have been attracted to green tea because of its ‘mythical medicine.’ Hilal and Engelhardt (2007) agree that it tends to influence the behavior of consumers, as most of them believe that it is the best way to access improved health. The concept of health boosts the relevance of tea consumption myths and rituals in the Chinese culture because it makes it easier for consumers to believe in the importance of tea in their lives.

The concept of tea ceremonies means promoting the Chinese way of tea. Tea ceremonies signify vital rituals that promote the culture of tea consumption. The Chinese way of tea consumption is a traditional approach that tends to bring out the tea drinking culture as part of the Chinese art. Tea ceremonies add an artistic aspect to the Chinese tea culture. It plays a vital role in the consumption myths and rituals of the Chinese culture because it is believed that everyone should drink tea during such days. Tea ceremonies boost tea consumption rituals and myths, as they increase overall consumption levels. Many consumers in China want to be associated with the tea consumption ceremonies while creating their marriage, and thus it is boosted by the tea ceremonies concept.

The French concept of etiquette means respect for other people and appreciation of their efforts. Offering somebody a cup of tea in mythical terms is a sign of etiquette and appreciation to other people. It explains why some consumers invite their friends to a cup of tea in various joints such as McDonald’s. According to Chandon and Wansink (2007), this concept plays a key role in the consumption rituals and myths of the French people. It makes it easier for people to choose tea over any other drink in the consumption process. It has led to an increase in the level of sales in the French culture, as people continue to adhere to the myth of etiquette promotion.

Lastly, the concept of socialization in the French culture means having fun with other people at different places. Most consumers in the French culture have continued to embrace the consumption of tea as part of their culture and interaction with other people. It plays an instrumental role in boosting the relevance of ritual aspect of cementing relationships using tea. It is ritually understood that a cup of tea has the capacity of cementing relationships and ensuring that people interact with each other continuously.

Functional Equivalence of Tea in Chinese and French Cultures

The function of tea is understood differently in the Chinese and French cultures. The use of tea varies in both cultures, as consumers hold different views regarding the tea consumption. These differences are discussed below.

The Function of Tea in the Chinese Culture

The functions of tea in the Chinese culture are understood to cover diverse elements of an individual’s life. The function of tea is not limited to one aspect in culture of the Chinese as it is applied in diverse ways that lead to the expected benefits. Edwards (2009) asserts that one of the key functional benefits of the Chinese tea consumption is improved health among consumers. It is understood that tea should add value to the health of its consumers. It highlights the reason for the consumption of green tea in most Chinese restaurants and homes. Most consumers are always focused on achieving good health because of the herbal elements found in green tea. In addition, tea is believed to bear vital benefits that boost existence and continued relationships among people all over the Chinese culture. Many relationships and business meetings are always accompanied by a cup of tea. It is believed that a strong bond would be built using tea in different areas. The booking of restaurants rooms for meetings is always followed by many orders for tea. Therefore, companies, such as McDonald’s, have been forced to work in line with the expected functions of tea in the Chinese culture, because it is the only way to success.

One of the vital uses of tea is to show respect to other people in the society. Tea in the Chinese market is always expected to boost respect among individuals. Such function is always aimed at building a society where everyone values respect for others. Specifically, younger people in the society tend to offer tea to older individuals as a sign of respect. The usage of tea as a sign of respect has continued to dominate the Chinese culture, as it has also been taken to restaurants. Lynn Guenette (2009) agrees that bosses invite their employees in restaurants and offer them a cup of tea as a gesture of respect toward them. Respect among people has been expressed using a cup of tea. Apart from the respect shown by offering a person a cup of tea, there is also the element of selflessness. It is usual for people to serve tea to express their selfless and respect for others in the Chinese culture. It has led to the growth of tea consumption because it is spreading to restaurants, such as McDonald’s, during their various meals including breakfast. Such function is always aimed at benefitting the entire society by ensuring that people live in harmony.

The second use of tea in the Chinese culture is to apologize. Tea has been widely used to serve the function of apology among individuals. It is believed that tea relieves aggression among people and performs the function of reconciling people in the Chinese culture. A person who offends others could offer a cup of tea as a sign of submission and regret for the offenses committed. Apology is always crucial because it ensures that people continue living as friends in the society. Offering tea to people is believed to be the best way to apologize to other people and mark an end to the mistakes committed in the past. Such function has also been moved to restaurants and is always aimed at benefitting the entire society by bringing peace in the community. Tea is believed to serve all people by offering an effective way of reconciliation.

Tea is also used to express gratitude to one’s elders on his/her wedding day. Masanari, Yoko and Hiromichi (2009) bring out the view that the traditional Chinese culture requires the bride and the groom to kneel before their parents and serve them tea as a sign of respect. It brings out the function of tea as a tool for showing gratitude to parents for blessing the wedding and allowing it to occur. Such function has been expanded to friends thanking their colleagues using tea. Offering a cup of tea to people in the Chinese culture serves as a vital way of expressing gratitude and appreciating their efforts toward a particular course. It is always aimed at benefitting the groom and the bride by wishing them good luck. It also exemplifies the level of appreciation among people in the Chinese culture.

Tea is also used as a form of boosting family relationships and gatherings. Tea remains significant in the Chinese culture because it boosts family relationships and understanding in the society. It serves the function of welcoming children home. Yongrui (2008) informs that Chinese parents always believe in organizing ceremonies at any given area, such as restaurants, to welcome the family home. Tea is used to seal the bond among family members after a long time of staying apart. Such function ensures that the family is able to share various experiences, as members unite after a long period of staying away from each other. Therefore, the function of boosting family relationships and gatherings is always aimed at ensuring that Chinese families stick together through a strong bond. It is believed that this bond would always be tight even as family members stay in different places.

Accordingly, tea in the Chinese culture is used as a separate cuisine used for the promotion of cultural values and traditions. It is crucial to understand that tea in the Chinese culture has been regarded a cuisine that asserts the beliefs of the Chinese culture. In this respect, it is always aimed at benefitting the country by expressing its philosophy, literature, and arts. Tea ceremonies facilitate the success of this function. The usage of tea to promotes cultural aspects of the Chinese has ensured that the world appreciates it.

Functional Equivalence of Tea in the French Culture

Tea does not have as many functions in the French culture as it has in the Chinese culture. It is because of the ‘coffee cult’ that dominated France before the emergence of tea. The functionality of tea in the French culture tends to be different from that of the Chinese culture. Tea came into the French culture to take over the functions of coffee that was widely consumed by individuals. The functions of tea are understood in terms of socialization in the French culture. In most instances, consumers would be seen going to a restaurant for a cup of tea as part of their socialization. Black tea is the common flavor consumed by the French because of its believed sweetness and attractiveness. Nehlig (2007) opines that tea is always expected to benefit individuals by boosting their relaxation and ensuring that they remain alert at any given time. Many elites have opted to consume tea at the expense of alcoholic drinks to ensure that they remain sober and relaxed at every given time. Some consumers prefer drinking tea with milk because of its satisfying benefits. It is consumed as a meal alongside pastries for its satisfying abilities. The difference in the understanding of the functionality of tea in the Chinese and French cultures highlights the differences between the western culture and the eastern cultures.

In the French culture, tea is mainly used for social purposes. It is used as part of the socialization process in the French culture. People have continued to perceive tea as a vital part of their socialization process. Tea is a vital part of relaxation even when people use it as part of the mainstream meal. Black tea has become popular and has remained vital in boosting relaxation among different people in the French culture. It is usually served later in the day and people prefer taking it as part of their enjoyment and socialization with each other. In this perspective, tea is aimed at promoting the stability of individuals by eliminating the associated stresses. It ensures that people remain active for the rest of the day because of the stimulating nature of tea. Therefore, tea in France remains a vital part of the relaxation and socialization among individuals.

In some quarters, tea in France is used for health purposes. Some doctors in France have disputed the view that tea has medicinal value. Therefore, some consumers have continued to use tea for health purposes. Green tea is consumed by some individuals with the aim of curing the rising levels of obesity. Hilal and Engelhardt (2007) are of the opinion that McDonald’s has been instrumental in promoting its usage in the French culture to ensure that people remain healthy in their daily operations. In addition, it is believed that tea improves digestion among consumers. They have been quick to embrace the consumption of tea with the aim of ensuring they have smooth digestive systems. Thus, the health benefits of tea have been taken into consideration by consumers in their consumption process. Many of them have moved away from the consumption of coffee with the aim of avoiding caffeine.

Overall, the functional expectations of tea vary significantly in the Chinese and French cultures. China tends to have many uses of tea and it has promoted the growth of companies such as McDonald’s Inc. The French have limited the uses of tea because of their previous affinity for coffee.

Buying Process and Communication across Cultures

Nature of the Buying Process in the Chinese Culture

Yongrui (2008) informs that in China, 100% of the population consumes tea. As noted earlier, the Chinese culture attaches much value to tea because of its health benefits and cultural significance. The entire population consumes tea because of the frequent motivation and encouragement for regular consumption of tea. Parents encourage their children to drink a cup of tea before going to school or doing other activities. It has increased the level of tea consumption all over the country as people continue to make it a cultural aspect. The regular tea ceremonies have also played a significant role in boosting the level of tea consumption in China.

Tea is consumed everywhere in China. Many people tend to consume it at home while others prefer drinking tea at restaurants such as McDonald’s. Accordingly, the consumption of tea is based on the availability and location of a person at any given time. Others can have a cup of tea at the train and bus stations where it is offered at varied prices. In China tea is served at any given time depending on the availability and convenience of an individual which is considered a positive factor. Navarro (2009) points out that people are encouraged to drink at least 3 cups of tea each day, and it has been vital in boosting the level of tea consumption. Wealthy individuals tend to have their breakfast in restaurants. McDonald’s sells a cup of tea for 6 Yuan hence making it affordable for many people in China. Business meetings held in restaurants boost tea sales for most restaurants because companies always look forward to sharing a cup of tea with their employees as a sign of gratitude and respect for their services. The process of tea consumption continues at all times depending on the events available in the country.

Nature of Buying Process in France

The buying process in France is extremely different from that in China. The two cultures do not have any commonalities in terms of the buying process and the consumption of tea. According to the CBI Market Survey (2008), an estimated 45% of people in France consume tea. Such population is mainly the upper middle class who drink tea as part of their social process. It is different from the Chinese culture where 100% of the population drink tea. The reason for the low levels of tea consumption in France is the dominance of coffee. Coffee has been part of the French culture for a long time, and tea is only trying to find its way in the market. Nevertheless, persistent marketing activities by companies, such as McDonald’s, have played an instrumental role in increasing the rate of tea consumption in France. Majumder, Bera and Rajan (2012) project that the population is embracing tea consumption at the fastest rate possible, and the level of consumption is estimated to rise to about 65% by 2016.

The French culture also exhibits significant differences in terms of the places and times of consumption. In France, tea is mostly consumed in restaurants because people have embraced it as a social activity. People would prefer to take tea at restaurants to receive the required level of satisfaction. Tea is served at any given time, but most people in France prefer drinking tea at around 12 noon because it is the best time to socialize. In France tea is perceived as the best way to abstain from alcoholic drinks and other unhealthy substances. Berardi, Sevestre, Tepaut and Vigneron (2013) inform that a cup of tea at McDonald’s in France costs about 5 Euros, which is favorable and affordable among most people. The French culture is still growing in terms of tea drinking and most people prefer black tea to other types of tea.

Socio-Cultural Forces that Drive the Buying Process in China and France

Several socio-cultural forces drive the above buying processes in China and France. One of the key cultural force that drives the buying process in China is the tea ceremonies. China has frequent tea ceremonies throughout the year that highlight the significance of tea in a person’s life. Tea ceremonies have influenced consumer’s habits in the country because they encourage people to consume tea every day. They bring out the importance of tea in a person’s life, and make consumers appreciate it as part of their culture. Yakup, Mucahit and Reyhan (2011) agree that frequent tea ceremonies have remained a vital driving force for tea consumption in the country. Tea ceremonies promote the consumption of tea on any given day to ensure that everyone keeps the culture. Everyone looks forward to marking tea holidays by consuming more tea every day. Therefore, this cultural aspect has been vital in driving the consumer purchasing behaviors.

Another socio-cultural force that has been driving the buying process in the Chinese culture is the health value attached to tea consumption. The Chinese are mythical in their consumption process because they believe that tea contributes to their wellness in terms of health. The wide consumption of tea in China is explained by the notion that it boosts the health of individuals and increases sharpness in class and other areas that need adequate concentration. It explains why companies, such as McDonald’s, have had to embrace green tea that is usually preferred by many Chinese consumers. Giele (2008) opines that the belief in tea as a healer has been vital in ensuring that it is consumed on many occasions throughout the country. The consumption is not limited to people who have health problems, as healthy ones consume it for purposes of immunity. Such socio-cultural aspect has remained instrumental in increasing the level of tea consumption throughout the country.

In France, the consumption process has been mainly driven by influence from other established consumers in the country. Many consumers among French population have learned their tea consumption habits from other members of the populations. Most of them have learnt that tea is as good as coffee and have been able to embrace it as part of their consumption habit. Hanspal (2010) asserts that the growth of tea consumption habit has emerged from the relationship of consumers to each other hence boosting the buying habits. For instance, many consumers have aspired to join the social classes that mainly feature the rich middle class, and it has presented an opportunity for restaurants to earn more from consumer who derive their consumption habits from their colleagues. The desire to fit in a particular group within the French culture has continued to increase the popularity of tea and the purchasing habits of all consumers.

The socio-cultural aspect that revolves around socialization and fun in the French culture has been vital in influencing the buying process in France. The consumption of tea in France has been massively boosted by the ability of the French to get out and have a good time with their friends. The buying process has been specifically boosted by the consumers’ desire to avoid alcoholic drinks that are believed to affect their health. Many consumers in France have decided to adopt tea as a perfect replacement for alcoholic drinks. It explains why most tea sales have kept on rising in the country. Majumder, Bera and Rajan (2012) believe that 65% of the population would be consuming this product by 2016. The new twist in socialization and fun has given companies, such as McDonald’s, a chance to move forward and popularize the product.

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Advertising and Branding of Tea in China and France

The marketing and branding of tea in both France and China is dominant. China has witnessed more mythical elements in media advertisements relating to the consumption of coffee. Companies, such as McDonald’s, have taken the initiative to market tea consumption in China basing on the mythical understanding that it is an antidote. Yongrui (2008) reiterates that one of the popular commercials aimed at marketing tea in the Chinese market was associated with the mythical element “Shennong tasted different types of herbs and came across seventy two poisons, and used tea as an antidote.” This advert was dominant in the Chinese market and was aimed at marketing tea as an effective solution to health problems that individuals are likely to face. The advert appeared on common newspapers, such as China Daily and China Economic Daily, hence attracting many consumers to the consumption of tea as a mainstream product in the Chinese market. Such myth has always played a vital role in attracting more customers to consume tea. The myth that tea heals has continued to attract consumers because of the belief that tea is the best way to live healthy life. It was also covered across different media with doctors urging the population to take tea as part of their healing process. The advert placed emphasis on the consumption of at least three cups of tea daily.

In France, the approach has been different. There have been no specific mythical elements attached in the marketing of tea in the French market. However, the ‘revolutionary’ tag attached to the tea marketing comes out as a mythical element that has boosted the consumption of tea in the French market. The mythical element rotating around a revolution has been vital in attracting more tea consumers. Many have preferred going to restaurants to share a cup of tea as they discuss various matters as part of their socialization. Initially, advertisers tried to embrace a similar approach that had been used in China. In their marketing process they emphasized the health benefits of tea. French doctors who reiterated that tea could not cure any given diseases among individuals rejected this. Morris and Waldman (2011) affirm that the key advert that appeared in the French media was “The Tea Revolution”, which draws routes from the aristocratic dominance and the subsequent emergence of democracy in the country. It comes out as a mythical element in the advert because it encouraged the French to replace coffee with tea. It brings out tea as an alternative drink to other drinks, such as alcohol and coffee, which are likely to cause health problems among individuals. It has not been easy to market tea in France because of its unpopularity. Companies, such as McDonald’s, have had to go an extra mile of teaching individual populations about the importance of consuming tea.

Overall, the marketing process and mythical elements utilized in the Chinese market differ significantly from those used in the French culture. It is especially because of the wide preference of tea in the Chinese market compared to the French market. However, the difference in myths has not hampered the growth of tea consumption in both France and China. There is no difference in the manner in which consumers in both countries have responded to the consumption habits. Consumers in China and France have been attracted to the consumption of tea in equal measure hence facilitating the expansion of the market in these countries.

Recommendations and Conclusion

In tandem with the above analysis, it can be noted that consumers in the Chinese and French cultures are driven by different motivations in their tea consumption process. Therefore, marketers should be keen when dealing with market adaptability and market standardization when promoting the consumption of tea in France and China. It is recommended for the marketers to utilize the element of market adaptability because it will enhance wider understanding of the product and its increased consumption. Different messages and approaches should be utilized in the marketing of tea in France and China due to the different meanings it has in both countries. In working with the market adaptability approach, they should change the visual and messaging elements to match country-specific beliefs and needs to ensure that the product gains popularity. Market standardization would not be appropriate when marketing tea across these cultures because of their different views. Therefore, it is recommended that marketers remain keen on ensuring that country-specific messages and visuals are used in the marketing of tea consumption.

In conclusion, tea has been culturally significant in the Chinese culture especially due to the medical value that is attached to it within the culture. It is also used as a sign of showing respect to other people and apologizing for any of the offenses committed against other people. Tea is also used to cement wedding relationships among the Chinese and it shows appreciation among individuals who offer it. The whole population in the country consumes tea because of its the cultural value. Marketing is still based on the mythical understanding that it is an effective cure. The French culture differs from the Chinese culture in terms of tea consumption because France was commonly characterized with the consumption of coffee compared to tea. In the French culture, tea has been driven by the socialization approach. It is usually served at midday and it has given individuals a chance to avoid other drinks such as alcohol. The marketing approach has been based on the revolutionary movement that aims at promoting diversity in the consumption habits of individuals around the country.