Catering sector changes tack to embrace diverse needs of young Chinese consumers
By Zhang Shixuan, Jin Yang

Several unique emerging businesses have sprung up across China to meet the diverse dining needs of young Chinese consumers who have a plethora of dining experiences, focusing on relaxation after work or spending quality time with friends. 

Sales of convenience food jumped seven times year on year since last February on Tmall, with self-heating items witnessing the fastest growth. And the business has been so promising that the Brand Zi Hai Guo has gotten five rounds of funding in just three years, which brought the company's value over $1 billion. 

Shanghai Memory Museum is a café which opened ten years ago. Displaying some 600 outfits and 30,000 antique items, it is an ideal place to get an immersive classic milieu. 

Visitors feel like they have gone back in time to the last century by wearing those old-styled outfits and accessories, especially for the younger visitors who have only seen those things in movies. 

The café now host about 10 customers a day, making sure they are able to have full experience. There are also a good number of overseas visitors.

"Ten years ago, our main customers were born in the 1980s or 1990s. But now, many of them are born after 2000, some even younger than 16 years old. And they are looking for deeper experiences as they know a lot, and that requires us to add more informational content to the museum. We've spent a lot of time and money and moved three times," said Wang Xiaojia, owner of Shanghai Memory Museum, 

"Here, we have more space, more scenarios, more exhibits and better lighting. And we've added more fun to it, as the younger generation are used to those new role-playing games. We're letting them experience what they've never seen in their childhood," she said. 

There are many restaurants nowadays in China that offer costume services. People can choose to change into their ideal clothes, like Hanfu, dresses from the Tang Dynasty, and Japanese clothes.

"Catering+" is becoming popular and attractive for consumers. Some analysts said theme parks and night economy are very popular in south China. People are not buying food itself, but experiences. For these restaurant owners, their revenue are much relied on providing convenience and services. 

Chen Jiahe, chief investment officer of Novem Arcae Technologies explained the changes that Gen-Z is bringing to China's catering sector. "They have much more money. Their income is much higher than 10 or even 20 years ago. And now many young people don't cook for themselves, so they are bringing a lot of changes to the catering market."

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