Twist & Drink is a child-friendly drink brand from Austria that launched in 1973. The juices are all made with natural mountain spring water. There is a range of different fruit flavors highlighted by the bold colors and unique designs of their bottles. Young consumers easily twist the top of the bottle to open it. They are a family-owned company that now produces over 50 million bottles of the popular kids’ drink each year. They currently sell in over 20 countries.
Twist & Drink set their sights on China.
China represents a huge market for child-targeted drinks. With its population of 1.4 billion potential consumers and the lifting of the one-child policy, this was the right time for the quality, international drinks brand to enter this market. Twist & Drink realized that only a small slice of this lucrative market would pay dividends.
The right market positioning
With the brand’s playful, visual design and novel, twist to open bottles this was the perfect example of a brand made for the Chinese market. They combined the international appeal of quality with a branding style very suited for China. A cartoon character was created to match each flavor that strongly appealed to the consumer aesthetically.
The Chinese Market was a different proposition
Twist & Drink had always expanded into different global markets relatively smoothly. The brand however initially struggled to enter China. This market is a very different proposition for businesses with different buying behaviors, languages, ways of thinking, and purchasing habits. In addition to this Chinese State rules & regulations govern all business activities.
It is because of this uniqueness that Twist & Drink approached Gentlemen Marketing. We entered into very productive discussions about how the brand could be re-marketed to China in the most cost-effective way. Partnering with a local specialist is vital for tailoring a brand for the Chinese consumer and targeting them on the right digital platforms.
The brand was unknown in Mainland China
The issue was Twist & Drink was simply not known in China. Despite increased international trading and influence the marketplace is still relatively separate. Digital is everything in China with over 850 million online users. The internet is a closed system, separated from the rest of the web by the infamous ‘Great Chinese Firewall’. The brand focused its efforts on digital growth as the most cost-effective method but faced a huge challenge, they had to essentially start all over again.
They had no reputation and little visibility on Chinese online platforms. Many parents in China are discerning and research extensively online before making purchases. They buy brands for their Children; if the brand were not established, they would not sell, regardless of the quality.
Other, less educated families do not realize that many children’s drinks produced in China are harmful to their health with astronomical levels of sugar and additives. In this situation, the selling point of Twist & Drink as a healthier, quality option was not going to be effective.
The brand would also have to educate the market and consumers as part of their strategy
Communicating Via Social Media
Social Media Marketing in China is one of the most effective ways for new brands to build their reputation and visibility, this is the formula for long-term growth and sales increase.
The Chinese are addicted to social networks and spend on average 1.5 hours per day browsing content. This campaign was all about branding and educating consumers about quality, it was important to tap into engaged social media communities of parents.
The brand took to Weibo, the most open social network in China with 300 million active users. Users can see posts by anyone which encourages virality, they do not have to be connected first. Weibo was used as a platform for starting conversations around relevant topics, connecting directly with potential customers, and for content promotion. We applied for and received a ‘Weibo Corporation Certification’ which added weight to the official account we created and managed for Twist & Drink. New content posts were launched 5 days a week at peak times to increase views and interaction.
The key to success was to adopt this ‘social strategy’ for the brand, in the social arena consumers expect this style of engagement.
WeChat is a key part of any comprehensive campaign in China? The platform now boasts over 860 million monthly active users. Here we created a game based around the different characters where users would compete to collect the most points in the ‘twist & drink arena’. Games on WeChat are tremendously popular and a great marketing tool if they are branded well. The Twist & Drink game highlighted the different flavors through the characters with key messages displayed before and after the game was played.
Over 10 000 players joined the game per day which was linked directly to their official accounts. This was combined with sharing content posts every day. The official account was presented in H5 to create a professional ‘mini site’ hosted within the application.
How did we do?
Expanding into China requires serious commitment as it can take time for brands to build their reputation and visibility if they have no presence previously. Twist & Drink went from nothing to a substantial presence within a 6-month window, a presence which will serve as a launch pad for their future success in the Middle Kingdom.
We generated over 3000 followers on their WeChat account and over 5000 on their Weibo account. These communities are the start of a loyal customer base that must be continually provided with content, promotions, and educational insights.
The game was a huge success with over 10 000 players per day engaging with the content. 25% of the players were mothers, the key target audience for the campaign.
Awareness around the quality of Children’s drinks has increased with Twist & Drink now stocked in most local premium stores in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen & Guangzhou. The company connected with a quality local distributor after the campaign and has gone from strength to strength.
There is always more to do in China, Twist & Drink now needs to capitalize on its improved positioning through more keyword optimization, and the development of new interactive content, and engage in constant efforts to grow its loyal base on social media.
A rewarding job
Us ‘Gentlemen’ were privileged to be a part of their initial step into the Chinese market. It is the most rewarding part of our job, to see brands go from invisible to highly visible and then to witness the resulting traction for them.
We look to form partnerships with severe projects for the Chinese market. If you are interested in working with us please drop us a message and one of our experts will be in touch to advise.