The burgeoning yogurt market in China:
- Revenue in the Yogurt segment in China amounts to more than USD 37 million in 2020.
- Annual growth expected is 5.1% (CAGR 2020-2025).
- China is among the largest markets for yogurts in the Asia-Pacific region.
- The average per capita consumption stands at 6.8 kg in 2020.
Yogurt consumption has significantly increased in China, by the appropriation of Western cultures and their eating habits. The craze of Chinese for yogurt is not a simple matter of taste: often in China, food consumption will be justified by its supposed health virtues.
Imported dairy products are more reliable in China
It is wrongly thought that the Chinese did not consume dairy products until they were influenced by the West. While the sale of yogurts has boomed since the opening of China in the 1980s, honey yogurt in China was already a Beijing tradition. These yogurts are easily found in North China but also in Shanghai, where they are sold in well-established street shops. They are recognizable by their shape of small craft pots whose lid is held by a string.
Domestic milk production has to hold high quotas but still suffers from the distrust of Chinese consumers, scalded by the resounding scandal of melamine milk in 2008. Co-operatives abroad – even led by Chinese investors – enjoy a boost of greater credibility.
Chinese consumers, between lactose intolerance and dietary deficiency
While much of the Chinese population still suffers from lactose intolerance, yogurt presents the advantage of being fermented, which makes it digestible.
Chinese people usually eat soy milk or even coconut milk. To succeed in the Chinese market, the brand Danone has chosen to highlight the calcium deficiency among the Chinese population, arguing in favor of cow’s milk. Funny anecdote if you compare the current movement in Europe, which tends to back down to sheep milk yogurt and soy milk beverages to counter the Europeans’ new intolerance to lactose!
The virtues attributed to yogurt boost Chinese yogurt market
Why this yogurt rush in China? The eating habits of the Chinese have evolved in contact with the West. The main argument in favor of yogurt: it’s content of probiotics, which strengthens the immune system and makes it the health ally against stomach problems and female hormonal discomforts.
There is no doubt that Chinese parents, always very concerned about the health of their only child, are particularly sensitive to a product long known in Europe to strengthen the bones of growing children.
Chinese sports coaches and health professionals are now even recommending the consumption of cow’s milk yogurt to strengthen the body in sport practicing and even to develop muscle mass faster in fitness, just like eggs and meat.
You can also read our Strategic Guide to Export Food Brands in China
How dairy products are consumed in China?
For Chinese consumers, yogurt is a product that gets carried away: if it does not come in the form of a bottle to drink, the yogurt solo will be sold with a straw or a plastic spoon, which allows one to eat it in walking in the street. A real boom in the market, high-sugar milk drinks are increasingly marketed in China.
The tastes that please the most? Strawberry and nature first, then tropical fruits like coconut, kiwi, mango, or pineapple. We then find blackberry and peach. Tapioca pearls are trendy, added to milk drinks as does the famous brand Yi Dian Dian. Bubble tea is now the most popular street food in China. You can easily see people walking in the street, with a bottle of bubble tea in the hand.
Goat or sheep milk yogurt may be trendy in China in a few years
Foreign products are judged by Chinese consumers as better quality products than domestic products. This quality image actually defines the strict hygiene controls that surround milk production in Europe; this is why Chinese consumers place greater reliance on imported products.
Being a foreign brand is a more significant way to highlight your products in the Chinese market. Be careful, however: it would be wise to anticipate the wave coming from Europe which decries cow’s milk as a product harmful to health, largely due to lactose intolerance.
If currently, China has cow milk in high esteem for its calcium intake and its food supplement action to the sport, the boomerang will return the other way. More and more Europeans are favoring goat or sheep milk for yogurt, and this turning point will inevitably reach China within a few years.
The best strategy to adopt? Export yogurt made of goat’s milk and bet on the communication of prevention to lactose intolerance. China is not closed to a new niche market. Consumers are always fond of new trends and willing to test any mystical method for better health and beautiful skin. Donkey milk in exported cosmetics is already in the beauty department of Chinese supermarkets, right next to… snail beauty care!
Why my advertising has to go through Chinese social networks?
E-commerce is the most popular shopping channel in China
While e-commerce is timidly taking off in Europe, the Chinese are hyper-connected consumers who pay their purchases by mobile payment and carry out their shopping on Taobao via their Smartphone.
It has become essential for a brand to be visible on Chinese social networks and traditional e-commerce platforms. Tmall, Taobao, and JD are leading e-commerce platforms, selling your products on those platforms can help your brand to reach more Chinese consumers.
However, the Chinese are very suspicious, that is to say, they won’t buy yogurts of which the name is unknown in China. Therefore, a marketing campaign on China’s social networks is very important if you want to enter the market.
WeChat is a powerful tool for your marketing campaign
WeChat, with its 1.2 billion users, has become the best way for you to start your marketing campaign and for viewers to be aware of promotions and brand launches; it is a digital fumble where to find new and used products, good deals, and sales of all kinds.
Especially with the integration of mini-program, WeChat is becoming a center of Chinese social networks and e-platforms. Users can use for example JD or Weibo (micro-blog) directly on WeChat without downloading.
The transition to digital is essential for your business. Fortunately, we can guide you to the best choices for your business plan.
Chinese city-dwellers aspire to a healthy lifestyle combining sports and balanced food. In this, the agri-food in China is a market that has the advantage of being able to develop jointly with the sports market.
To fully understand the Chinese market on which you want to make your brand known, many companies like yours choose to join our Gentlemen Marketing Agency, which brings them the most innovative digital strategies. We help companies on a daily basis to develop their business in China by optimizing their digital communication on Chinese social networks.
Want to know more? Do not hesitate to contact one of our experts.