Why is beer so girly in China?


A curious thing in the fairly masculine society that beer, or all things, is decidedly girly. That best friend of man, apart from the dog, has not quite materialized for Chinese men. Here’s why in three points.

It was never passed down from generation

In other markets, men – excuse me, I mean real men – learn to drink beer from their fathers. It is ‘snuck’ and ‘smuggled’ from father to son, as some sort of beverage form of ‘right of passage’.

In China, simply did not happen, beer did not exist as a manly pursuit previously, and quite simply failed to take on the same connotation for China’s newer generation.

So the there was no ‘beer drinking baton’ to pass one, so no one continued the race.

No masculine sports fandom to anchor beer drinking

U.S. men have NFL, the UKers has the Premier League, and other far-flung blokes have rugby, hockey and cricket to structure beer drinking.   It is a solid excuse to create male bonding over beer, sometimes it feels sport was designed specifically with this in mind (occupational hazard).

In China – nada – sports have not taken off in the same way. Yes, some basketball fandom, but this is more likely to lead to a few Gatorades rather than a few lagers.

Beer just has not had its natural partner-in-crime in China, sports

Beer was not premium enough to deliver face

As Chinese men’s wallets grew in the 1980s, they needed to show it through their drinking.   Beer just simply could not convey the meteoric rise of this time, so whiskey took its place as the ‘measure of men’ (even if sometimes it was drunk with green tea).

In this context, beer never became the symbol of men, and has never recovered to this day.

About Author

Jerry Clode

Jerry Clode is Head of Digital & Social Insight at Resonance. He leads Resonance SMART, providing leading-edge research, strategy and naming for brands in China using bespoke methodologies. Jerry also produces Resonance's popular China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly publication covering modern marketing methods of the world's top brands.

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