Hot pot chain Haidilao heats up university dining with campus branches

In a move to cater to a younger demographic, the renowned Chinese hot pot chain Haidilao has opened a branch within Xi’an University’s cafeteria for a week-long trial period before becoming a permanent establishment. The restaurant branch is the brand’s first global campus store and is exclusive to the university’s student body.

The new Haidilao Campus Hot Pot aims to meet university students’ dining needs by offering a special campus menu at exclusive prices. These include uniquely curated hot pot sets, snacks, and other varieties that are not only designed with the students in mind but are also 40% to 80% cheaper than normal prices. As post-pandemic economic recovery slows down and youth unemployment hits a new high, this new budget hot pot comes at the perfect time for China’s students.


So far, news of the restaurant opening has made waves on China’s social media platform Weibo. At present, the hashtag “Haidilao opens in university” has garnered over 37 million views.

This year has seen Haidilao consistently expand its brand’s appeal to the younger generation, launching special hot spot series tied to Gen Z- favourite IPs, hosting collaborative events with other brands and IPs, and situating stores in strategic locations such as near concert venues and in camping areas. Their focus on adapting and catering to regional tastes and the diverse food demands of younger generations underlines their commitment to staying relevant in a rapidly evolving market.

Following its 2019 expansion, which saw the launch of over four successful sub-brands, the company has refocused its strategy around its primary business: Sichuanese hot pot. The first half of 2023 has proven successful for Haidilao, as they reported a 24.6% revenue increase from the same period last year.

All in all, Haidilao’s move to break into the university market highlights the importance for businesses to continually innovate and adapt to shifting consumer demographics. By strategically positioning themselves in high-density youth areas and diversifying their offerings, brands can stay relevant and foster loyalty among emerging consumer groups.


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