Japanese food (Washoku), sake, green tea in 14 Asian cities

Jan. 26, 2015
  • Research
  • Global HABIT
  • Top 3 Washoku have tried before: Sushi, ramen, tempura Taipei, Hong Kong and Seoul stand out in experience eating Washoku. Singapore and Manila round out the top five.
  • The proportion of sake drinkers is high in Hong Kong and Seoul, but sake is yet to make inroads in Asia overall.
  • Experience drinking green tea is high in Bangkok and Singapore, in addition to the East Asian cities

To support marketing communication in the global market place, Hakuhodo has conducted its Global HABIT survey of sei-katsu-sha*1 each year since 2000. Conducted in 35 major cities in Asia, Europe the United States and South America, the survey polls middle- and high-income earners.

We have analyzed data from the most recent Global HABIT survey (conducted in 2014) from a variety of perspectives to discover hints about potential opportunities in the global marketplace. To view previous reports, please visit Hakuhodo’s website.

In this report, we present findings from analysis of experience eating and drinking Washoku (Japanese food), sake (Japanese liquor) and green tea among sei-katsu-sha in 14 Asian cities. We also introduce data from the US (New York) and Brazil (Sao Paulo) for reference.

1. Sushi is the runaway No. 1 Washoku had before, followed by ramen and tempura. Taipei, Hong Kong and Seoul stand out in experience eating Washoku. Singapore and Manila round out the top five.

  • The No. 1 Washoku had before across the 14 Asian cities was sushi (60.8%), which came in around 20 points higher than the No. 2 selection. No. 2, ramen (41.9%) and No. 3, tempura (41.2%) were neck and neck.
  • Looking at city-by-city scores, Taipei, Hong Kong and Seoul stand out in experience eating Washoku. Among Southeast Asian cities Singapore and Manila were high, but Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City were all lower than New York.
  • In Taipei, experience eating Washoku is high across all age groups. In Singapore, it is high among those in their 20s.

17 Washoku options: Sushi, tempura, ramen, udon, soba, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakitori, tonkatsu, sukiyaki, yakiniku, shabu shabu, obento, miso soup, onigiri, oden, tofu (tofu was excluded in China, as many Chinese consider it to be a Chinese foodstuff)

2. Although experience drinking sake (Japanese liquor) is just 12.5% across the 12 Asian cities surveyed for this item, scores for Hong Kong and Seoul are around 40%.

When we asked those that drink alcohol about the kinds of alcohol they had drunk in the past 3 months, beer came in the overwhelming frontrunner across the 12 cities surveyed for this item (excluding Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta) at 91.6%, while sake was just 12.5%.

By city, Hong Kong had the highest proportion of sake drinkers (46.6%), with Seoul (39.6%) and Taipei (16.7%) making up the rest of the top 3. These three cities also had high scores for experience eating Washoku, indicating that Japanese food culture is already widely accepted there.

A Southeast Asian city with a high proportion of sake drinkers, Singapore (12.5%) had a score roughly the same as that of Sao Paulo.

7 alcoholic beverage options: Beer, wine/sparkling wine, whiskey, brandy, liqueurs, sake (Japanese liquor), shochu. (Questions about alcohol were not put to respondents in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta or to Malays in Singapore out of religious sensitivity)

3. Experience drinking green tea is 52.2% across the 14 Asian cities, with Taipei, Hong Kong, the three Chinese cities and Seoul all returning scores of 70% or more. Scores in Bangkok and Singapore are over 65%.

  • When we asked what beverages respondents had drunk in the previous year, green tea came in at 52.2% across the 14 Asian cities. By city, experience drinking green tea was highest in Taipei, at 91.1%. The proportion of green tea drinkers was high in East Asian cities, with Taipei followed by Hong Kong and Shanghai, with scores of over 80%; and Beijing, Seoul and Guangzhou, with scores in 70% range. In Southeast Asia, Bangkok and Singapore scored over 65%.
  • In image of green tea, the top-scoring item across the 14 Asian cities was Think it has become popular recently (31.3%). Good for making you feel relaxed (27.8%) and Like it (27.1%) rounded out the top 3.

14 beverage options: Coffee, regular tea, green tea (e.g. Japanese tea), other types of tea, carbonated beverages, fruit juice, vegetable juice, mixed fruit and vegetable juice, mineral water, sports drinks, nutrients and tonics/energy drinks, lactic drinks, milk, soybean milk

*1 Sei-katsu-sha are more than simply consumers, just as people’s lives and lifestyles include more than just shopping. Hakuhodo introduced this
term in the 1980s to emphasize its commitment to a comprehensive, 360-degree perspective on consumers’ lives.

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