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Top 10 Reasons Why China Loves Subway


Top 10 Reasons Why China Loves Subway

With more than 44,000 stores located in more than 100 countries, the Subway brand is the world’s largest submarine sandwich franchises and one of the fastest-growing franchises! Subway’s menu offers a range of items from submarine sandwiches and paninis to salads and cookies. The sub sandwich chains menu varies between countries, so in some locations, you can find some interesting submarine sandwich combinations. The chain is becoming steadily more popular in none other than China! You can start to spot these stores almost as often as the glowing yellow golden arches. There are over 400 locations in China and it is estimated there will be well over 600 stores in the future. 

10. They Love Trying Western Food 

Subway restaurants have a difficult time competing with McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut in China they still have many fans. Subway is the latest American fast food among the big three; hamburgers, pizzas and sandwiches. For this reason, they may need some more time to become better known by the Chinese market but they have started to make their mark and are “climbing to the top of the food chain”! Many Chinese people are liking the food! It is very different from traditional Chinese food, from the food to the environment and seating arrangements, as well as table mannerism, being all completely different. Two decades ago, only five-star hotels and the odd restaurant would offer good western food in China. Now it has become more widely available with more western food restaurants in cities and the Chinese people are following the foreigners to try the food. Why are the Chinese so inclined to try western foods though? Well, it started with curiosity from the younger generations and then it also comes down to the reasons why the Chinese choose western brands and food chains, brand reputation, exclusivity and best seller items. On top of that, even though it’s quite different from their traditional food they like it and restaurants like Subway adapt their menu items to appeal to their taste buds too, with sandwiches and drinks offered on the menu. 

9. It’s Cheap!

Considering it’s the healthier version of the Western fast-food chains it is cheap! Chinese food can also be cheap depending on where you go and what type of Chinese food you eat but it’s just as comparable to the prices at Subway. There are sandwiches you can choose for 18 RMB or even 22 RMB which translates to about $3.50-$4.30 in Canadian dollars. In comparison to Chinese food, you can get a bowl of your choice of noodles for anywhere from 16-20 RMB, about $3.14-$4 Canadian. In 2008, Subway began to offer almost all foot-long submarine sandwiches for five dollars, excluding premium and double-meat varieties. This was supposed to be a limited time only promotion in North America but quickly became Subway’s most successful promotion.. ever! When the initial promotion was coming to an end, the high volume of customer response for a permanent $5 footlong menu prompted Subway to create one. This is when the “$5 Footlong Everyday Value Menu” became a regular thing and of course, the $5 footlongs are available in China as well! Only instead of $5 its 25 RMB! Other promotions at Subway include their $3.50 6-inch selection for the Sub of the Day sub sandwiches. Another great and cheap option in the 6-inch size for a low price equivalent to 15 RMB. 

8. You Can Get a Hot Sub Sandwich

A sandwich is known as Western cold food. Chinese people are not accustomed to cold food especially because this goes against Chinese traditional love of hot food. Naturally, Subway needed to adapt to this and created a few “hot” sandwich options for this market with a selection for their taste buds and love of spicy food! They introduced the Hot and Spicy Flavoured Thick Cut Steak Sandwich and the Black Pepper Thick Cut Steak Sandwich. Two things Chinese people love about their traditional food are that it can be spicy and served hot; both of these steak sandwiches have a nice kick to them and are served hot. Additionally, in Beijing, they also introduced on the menu a Roasted Duck Sub, it was created especially for the Chinese market by combining Chinese and American tastes. These hot new subs in Chinese Subways maintain the same classic American Subway style but instead are made with popular ingredients like the roasted duck and served hot to be more appealing not to mention tasty! Michael Johnsen, Subway Development Agent for Shanghai commented on these subs saying “This combination is perfect not only for making sandwiches more accessible to people who are hesitant to try Western style cold cuts but also for fusion aficionados looking for new culinary twists”. 

7.  Grab and Go, It’s Quick and Convenient 

China is a country with a history of certain rituals and etiquette when it comes to dining and their food. Eating is highly important in China’s culture and many Chinese food chains or restaurants are usually set up in a way where customers come to sit down to dine banquet style with a very noisy environment. It is uncommon for Chinese restaurants to have a grab and go option with small lineups, a quiet atmosphere and available seats. For some Chinese people especially the Generation 2 population, they like to get something to eat that is quick and convenient. With Subway they can come in, build a sandwich of their choice and choose to sit down and eat or take it to go. Food insiders have mentioned that cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen are full of young and busy professionals who want to live healthily but have little time to think about preparing meals. This is where the Subway chain becomes one of their choices for food because they provide convenient, fast and healthier options. 

6. It’s a “Healthier” Alternative

Chinese food tends to be quite oily, carb-heavy and doesn’t focus on having many vegetables included. For some time in China, the expat community in the city starved of good Western food. So once Subway chains started to pop up all over popular cities, the expats started creating business for them and the Chinese followed for this healthier alternative and to fill up on some fresh veggies, like the slogan says to “Eat Fresh”. It is an ideal place to pick up a reasonably healthy and quick lunch or dinner. For the Chinese customer, this is still new because in their eyes a big sandwich is still a burger without the fries hence why we mentioned: “they may need some more time to become better known by the Chinese market”. But with the variety of vegetable options like soups and salads on the menu, it is viewed as a healthier western food chain. Subway gets a good name in Chinese: 赛百味, which means “better taste than any other food”. Perhaps, Subway can focus on advertising healthy western food more so than chains like KFC or McDonald’s because people are taking it more seriously. Another thing Subway did back in 2011 to be more “healthified” is they cut the salt content in their sandwiches by 15 percent.

5. You Can Customize It

For most people in China it may feel a little bit unnatural to have so many independent choices when it comes to their food. Usually, with typical Chinese food, you order it one way, it is what it is and there isn’t a variety of ways to dress it, have it cooked, etc. So, it can become strange when they have different bread, vegetables, meat and salad dressing choices to choose from for their sandwiches. Subway offers something new for the Chinese in this respect where they can make their own sub, which is not only a new experience but nice when you’re picky, want to change things up or choose items according to your cravings or your palette for what you like most. Subway also gives you the option to toast your sandwich so it is served to you nice and warm, a feature many Chinese like! Subway offers many different toppings you can add to your submarine sandwiches like olives, pickles and jalapenos. Subway has a great menu that allows you to get creative by choosing between your favourite type of bread, meats, cheeses, veggies, condiments and dressings. They also have the option to choose any sub sandwich and to have it made into a salad! Other than having choices you can also choose the standard recipe option for each of the menu items as well with their recommended condiments or dressings. 

4. Sub of The Day Special

The Subway “Sub of the Day” is one of the most well known fast food promotions of all time. As we mentioned in China they also offer “$5 Footlong Everyday Value Menu” which is a neat feature for Chinese people. Not only that but there is also the 6 inch for $3.50 option as well. Not only is it cheap and convenient but gives them the option to try different subs for a value on different days of the week. Again, this is an uncommon feature for them as it is not something you would see at Chinese food chains or restaurants. The sub of the day promotion varies with the sandwich options for each day of the week by international locations, they choose them based on local and cultural favourites.  This can be appealing for the Chinese people especially when their favourites are the special on certain days of the week!

3. You Can See the Food Being Prepared

As you might have heard, Chinese people have a hard time trusting their food with so many food scandals like fake eggs or fake lettuce and tomatoes. So, not only is it is unique for them to be able to see the food they are going to eat through a glass display being prepared for them but also they have a tendency to trust Western brands. The fact that they can see the fresh food items like the bread and vegetables and see it being assembled for them is kind of a big deal. Generally, most restaurants take the order and make the food in the kitchen where the customers do not see the food until the finished product comes out to them. Being able to see the food it is easy to tell if it is fresh or not and you can also smell the freshly baked bread and cookies which adds to the trust the Chinese people put in Subway. 

2. You Can Get Cookies With Your Meal

The sub company also offers cookies! Now they may not be fortune cookies, traditionally known Chinese cookies, but make no mistake they are cookie monsters just like the rest of us. As advertised, they are ‘baked fresh daily” and are a popular part of Subway’s meal combos. The Chinese do love their dessert options anywhere from Chinese mooncakes to Western cookies. The Subway cookies come in a variety of options and taste so good. The taste, texture and size of cookies are much different from a fortune cookie and also don’t tell you your fortune but they are appealing because of many reasons listed above, they are “Western”, cheap and delicious. Subway is also offering fun cookie flavours for Chinese New Year, pineapple cookies! Looks like New Year’s came early this year, let’s celebrate!

1. It Tastes Good!

Since it’s made fresh and served with fresh vegetables, freshly baked bread and prepared fresh meats, it tastes good. It definitely tastes much better than food from a fast food chain that serves food that is frozen in bulk and then cooked to eat! Many can agree that Subway will taste better for these reasons and the Chinese can appreciate this as well. Subway has a sandwich for everyone! They appeal to Chinese people because they keep introducing more and more Chinese tastes to switch is up from the standard American cold cuts they aren’t too keen on. Starting in January 2019 for CNY (Chinese New Year) they also introduced a few new sub specials. They are being offered until February 28th as the 2 “egg-bundance” otherwise known as the Golden Egg Campaign sub-options. The egg-bundance promotion is Subway’s spicy Italian sub or the chicken strips sub served with a heaping spoonful of their creamy egg mayo topping and if you didn’t know they love their eggs in China (from quail to chicken eggs). It sounds good, looks good and probably tastes egg-cellent! The Egg Mayo & Spicy Italian comes with slices of pepperoni and salami, fresh vegetables, any choice of sauce and the egg mayo concoction. You can, of course, modify this with your choice of vegetable toppings as well and add melting cheese. The other egg abundant sub experience they are offering the Egg Mayo & Chicken Strips sub. This sub sandwich comes with chicken strips, veggies, sauce of your choosing and again the egg mayo! We are sure Subway will have lineups of egg-cited expats and Chinese people this for 2019 CNY!

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