The snack industry is booming in China. According to the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), it has an estimated output value of 3 trillion yuan ($433 billion) in 2020. According to Statista, the market is expected to grow annually by 5.5% (2020-2025).
The snacks market in China
Consumers love buying healthy and tasty snacks. When choosing snack foods there are some factors that have become essential:
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- Natural food;
- Whole grain;
The major consumer group for snack foods is young people aged between 20 and 30.
According to Mintel Group, a market research company, China is also the largest consumer of salty snacks.
Mintel estimated that the country consumed about 5.5 million tons of snacks, followed by 3.7 million tons in the United States and 1.3 million tons in India and 582,000 tons in Japan, and 557,000 in Mexico.
E-commerce has led the snack penetration in the country, with snacks taking up 30 percent of online food sales, according to the Snack Report by the Ministry of Commerce.
Chinese snacks market’s characteristics
Snack brands have to develop products that are innovative and surprising in order to have success in China. Different flavors make products more attractive to Chinese consumers, especially if they bring new and exotic elements.
Popular snacks in China usually have attractive packaging, a good brand image, and natural ingredients without sugar.
Consumption patterns are aligning to those of more advanced countries and are becoming more recognizable from a western point of view. This depends on urbanization, increased disposable income, international influence, and changes in lifestyles.
The greater possibility of choice also affects increased awareness of health and food safety, the rapid development of channels of distribution, and the inclination to experiment that increasingly characterizes Chinese consumers.
Kids healthy snacks: a new trend in China
After the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese people put more attention to what they buy and they appreciate more and more healthy and high-end products. Healthy and safe will be more valued by Chinese consumers, that’s why healthy snack producers have great opportunities to increase their sales in China.
In addition to adult snacks, kids have become an important segment for the development of healthy snacks.
According to the “Kids Snacks Market Survey, White Paper” the large Chinese kids’ snacks market is still in its early stage of development and is expected to exceed the market size of RMB 600 billion yuan (USD $86.7) in 2020.
The best strategy for your snacks brand to sell in China
1. Be visible and work on your brand image on Baidu
Why a Chinese consumer should choose your products instead of those of your competitors? This is the question you have to keep in your mind when thinking about the Chinese market. Do not forget that it is a very competitive and fragmented market.
In order to attract consumers’ attention, you have to work to build a good brand image. Reputation in China is everything, especially when you are a new brand trying to set foot into the market. Chinese consumers research extensively when they have to decide which product to buy.
It is essential to present and incisive where Chinese people usually spend their time. The first step is Baidu, the Chinese most used search engine. If they will not find you here, they will not trust you, even if they see your products on the main e-commerce platforms.
Baidu covers 70% of queries. It works like an ecosystem (Baidu Search, Baidu Promotion, Baidu Video, Baidu Maps, Baidupedia) and has many tools. It is similar to Google in this. Of course, Baidu rewards those users that take advantage of all its tools. To be effective, a website must be host in China or Hong Kong, translated in Chinese, with an eccentric layout, a big focus on storytelling, and a lot of information about the company and the products you offer.
2. Chinese Social media to Promote your Snack Brand
As we all know, Chinese netizens are always connected. With around 1.4 billion people and over 668 million who regularly access the internet, China is the country with the highest number of web users. To sum up, one in two Chinese surfs, chats, inquires and finalizes purchases through their computer or mobile devices.
WeChat to get engaged with your community
WeChat is the app where Chinese people spend most of their time. It can be defined as a super App because it allows you to send messages, do video calls, pay at the supermarket, book a taxi, but also to buy products, thanks to its mini-program. For a company, the best option is to open an official account, there are 3 types. We pretty much always suggest a “service account” to our clients if their core business is not content.
Why using a Wechat service account?
Service account unlocks more effective tools to create a “relationship” with your follower. For instance, when publishing content, your follower will receive a push notification, just like if a friend messaged them. You can publish 4 times a month (articles, videos, gif, audio). It is the more complete because it offers extra services like the geolocalization of users, best visibility, e-commerce channel, multiple Qr Codes.
WeChat is one of the best social media to create engagement with your following, to nurture it (it kind of replaces your email marketing – expect you have more tools than with emailing). It offers many tools such as WeChat CRM, WeChat groups, WeChat mini-program, WeChat Channels.
By using WeChat membership functions you can convert your followers into members and keep them interested in loyalty programs (it’s cheaper to retain customers than get new ones). This also allows you to get valuable information. A member can use the geo-localization function to pair up with users by their Wechat ID or phone number. This is perfect to create more custom marketing content to reach your audience more efficiently
There are three kinds of advertising on Wechat:
- Moments Ads. Would not recommend for small brands. They are expensive and in our experience, the ROI is not great if you are not a well-known brand.
- Kols (an agreement between an advertiser and a popular blogger that will be paid for the creation of advertising content in the form of a newsletter),
- Banner ads. It presents itself as an announcement that appears at the bottom of another official account. It uses the same targeting system as WeChat Moments ad.
WeChat is an indispensable tool when doing business in China.
Weibo to increase your snacks brand awareness: buzz marketing
Weibo might not be as popular as it was once, but good commercial content on Weibo can be a lot more impactful than on Wechat. It is a social media similar to Twitter; it allows creating micro-blog, sending messages, following brands, Kols, and trends, to do live-streaming and it has some gaming activities. It is a one-to-many platform, so it is easier to have followers here than in WeChat.
Weibo helps to increase brand awareness, to ensure great visibility for events and promotions. It is the best place where brands can post good content: easy to read and easy to share. Your post will get only some seconds of attention so it’s important to make it count. Weibo is a great tool for being commercial.
After you have worked and invested for some months in the construction of your reputation and brand image, you must definitely test the market with online sales. It is the best option to not go to China with physical stores, at least in the initial stage.
3. Pinduoduo: the e-commerce platform for your snacks brand
Pinduoduo is famous for its group buying function. It is one of the most important e-commerce platforms after Tmall and Jd. It works on the model of social commerce, which means it has a mix of social media and e-commerce functions.
One of its strong points is the cheap price and discounts. In fact, generally, the products on the platform have very low prices. Furthermore, users can take advantage of the group buying function to further lower prices. For this reason, Pinduoduo is particularly used by the most attentive consumer groups.
In the first half of 2020, Pinduoduo had 683 million active buyers. This figure marks a 41% growth compared to 2019 and makes PinDuoDuo the fastest-growing e-commerce platform in China. In most cases, these new users are young Chinese boys and girls. In fact, Pinduoduo is the e-commerce platform with the highest growth rate of users between 19 and 35 years in China (the main target audience of snack brands). In 2019, the platform revealed that 55% of Pinduoduo users come from third and fourth-tier cities. The remaining 45% comes, however, from the first and second ones.
4. Xiaohongshu: the Review App for your Snack Brand Reputation in China
Xiaohongshu is social commerce. The user can buy the products directly from the platform. It has more than 200 million users and it is really interesting for beauty, luxury, but also travel and food.
It is a mix of Instagram, Pinterest, and Amazon. It is based on a “content-driven” model, which gives great importance to content. It was born as a shopping guide. It mainly attracts consumers who reward quality and authenticity.
For this reason, it represents an opportunity for international brands. The content of social-commerce shows the dual nature of the platform: a market place and social media.
While in the traditional e-commerce platforms the user enters when he is interested in a product, in social commerce the user enters even also for diversion.
60% of users are Millennials or Generation Z (the target audience of snack brands) and more than 70% live in first or second-tier cities. 85% of users are women.
It is important to understand that before thinking to sell on these platforms, any brand has to build its e-reputation. We can help you to do it.
Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a digital marketing agency that is expert in helping foreign companies to establish or strengthen their position in China. We can help your brand increase sales in China, thanks to our services like:
- Baidu SEO&SEM
- Social Media
- KOL & Influencers
- E-commerce and cross-border e-commerce
Read more about the Snack Market in China:
- Lyfen, how China Snacks Leader sells online?
- The Most Popular Snack Foods in China
- China Food Industry Latest Trends