Food for thought? Celebrity endorsements hold little sway in Asia

Only Chinese consumers likely to be persuaded by celebrity chef or brand ambassador backing for restaurants and food products

Celebrity chef endorsements are still powerful for Chinese consumers
Celebrity chef endorsements are still powerful for Chinese consumers

Celebrity chef or brand ambassador endorsements of restaurants or food products have far less impact than recommendations from friends or family in Asia-Pacific, with the exception of China, according to new research published by Weber Shandwick.

The agency found that nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of Chinese respondents said they were more likely to buy a product or visit a restaurant on account of its endorsement by a celebrity chef or brand ambassador.

But in Singapore and Korea, just 21 per cent of respondents said they would react favourably to an endorsement. In Australia, only 16 per cent said the same. The most influential source of information or endorsement in all four markets was a recommendation from a friend or family member, found the firm’s Asia Pacific Food Forward Trends Report II.

Weber Shandwick’s chief strategy officer for Asia-Pacific Ian Rumsby said: "Food producers, brands and service providers wanting to create a product or experience that meets the needs of their audience need to focus on a targeted marketing communications strategy that watches, listens and engages with its key consumers across all relevant channels – particularly digital, given these findings."

Despite the findings, celebrity chef restaurants continue to open across Asia, particularly in Singapore. Just last month Gordon Ramsay opened Bread at Marina Bay Sands.

Other findings from the report reveal that social networking platforms are increasingly becoming places where consumers and companies alike can make meaningful connections around food. The report finds that four in ten consumers in Singapore and Korea, and six in ten consumers in China post about their food experiences on social media once a month or more. Furthermore, 17% of Chinese respondents and 8 per cent of Koreans post at least once a day. Australians are less active with just 29 per cent posting once a month or more.

Consumers are also increasingly more comfortable using digital platforms to purchase food. Over the past 12 months in particular, there has been a noticeable shift in online food shopping habits. More than three out of four respondents in China and more than half of respondents in Singapore and Korea said they had increased their online food shopping in the past year.

The complete Asia Pacific Food Forward Trends Report II is available here.

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