Chicecream CEO takes to livestreaming in bid to save debt-ridden brand

On the evening of 28 May, Chicecream founder Lin Sheng appeared on Taobao livestreaming to sell goods, with the background of the livestream room being ‘Chicecream old Lin selling sweet potatoes’. Lin Sheng said Chicecream had not been operating well over the past year, with tight cash flow, leaving a large number of employees’ salaries, compensation and reimbursements unpaid. However, the company will try to help itself by livestreaming and making an effort to sell ice cream, gradually paying off outstanding funds. The number ‘729’ on the backdrop represents the number of employees owed salaries.

In April, due to the company’s debt, the goverment restricted Chicecream founder Lin Sheng from high consumption. The topic #Chicecream founder said he would sell sweet potatoes to pay off debt# (钟薛高创始人称卖红薯也要把债还上) trended on Weibo, garnering a total of 220 million views. Yesterday, Lin Sheng appeared in livestreaming to sell sweet potatoes as promised. 10 minutes after the start, the number of livestream viewers exceeded 80K, and 130 minutes after the start, the number exceeded 500K.

The livestream featured a total of 74 products, including sweet potatoes, ice cream, dumplings, rapeseed oil and so on. But many netizens didn’t recognise the livestream, with 0.5 kg of sweet potatoes costing more than 8 RMB (1.13 USD), leading them to call it ‘sweet potato assassin’, and claiming they could not afford to buy. Addressing the question of sweet potatoes being too expensive, Lin Sheng said: ‘Most people think unusual things should be cheap, but in fact, the most expensive things in the world are pure air, sunshine and clean water, and the people who are quietly good to you. But it is easy for us to ignore. Behind a tasty sweet potato is a little bit of the farmer’s heart and soul.’

The ‘sweet potato assassin’ that netizens are spouting is also, to a certain extent, a mistrust of Chicecream’s past product overpricing. Chicecream was founded in March 2018 and was initially positioned in the high-end ice cream market, with six products released early on priced at more than 10 RMB (1.41 USD). In the same year, Chicecream launched Pink chocolate crispy crust (made from naturally pink ruby cocoa from Ecuador) priced at 66 RMB (9.28 USD), becoming the ‘ Hermès’ of the ice cream world.

Until the summer of 2022, Chicecream faced negative public opinion, such as ‘ice cream is hard to melt even when burned’ and ‘high pricing makes it known as the ice cream assassin’, and Chicecream gradually fell into financial difficulties with tight cash flow.  

In March this year, Chicecream’s pricing was no longer high, with products close to their expiry date as low as 2.5 RMB (0.35 USD) a piece. In 2022, during the ‘618 Shopping Festival’, Chicecream was still the winner of the ice cream category’s brand self-play list, but by the second quarter of 2023, it had already been overtaken by Yili and Cornetto, with a market share of only 2.99%.


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