After a year of blockbusting collaborations, Luckin has kicked off 2024 with a new collaboration with premium orange brand Chu’s Orange. The co-branded Chu’s Orange Latte mixes the namesake orange juice with New Zealand cheese to create its unique flavour. First teased on 29 December, the coffee was released on the first day of the new year. It is also described as a collaboration with an orange with a story.
The story of Chu’s Orange is a story of redemption. Hailed as the top brand for oranges in China, Chu’s was founded by entrepreneur Chu Shijian. Once called the “tobacco king” of China, Chu held the helm at Hongta Group in Yuxi, Yunnan for nearly 20 years before being arrested and later convicted of embezzlement in 1999. He was released on medical parole due to diabetes in 2002. That was when Chu started his second company aged 74, an orange farm which later turned into Chu’s Orange. An early adopter of e-commerce among agricultural producers, the orange brand quickly became known as the premium orange brand online. By 2013, Chu was already known as the “orange king” of China. Chu passed away at 91 in 2019.
The design of the packaging for Chu’s Orange latte was created by Tiger Pan using AIGC. Pan’s packaging design for Chu’s won a slew of awards between 2016 and 2018. Incidentally, Pan also designed the package for Luckin Coffee’s internet-breaking Maotai collaboration last year.
Notably, the Chu’s Orange collaboration follows the formula of the Maotai co-branding by partnering with a premium domestic brand which possesses a strong brand narrative. The unconventional ingredient of baijiu liquor and orange juice also forms a contrast for the collab. These, according to a recent survey often help make a collaboration memorable.
However, with an orange Americano already in Luckin’s repertoire since December 2022, the element of surprise might not be as strong as the Maotai one. Chu’s Orange, albeit having premium status, is rather niche compared to Maotai. This is reflected on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter equivalent, where netizens reacted with a lukewarm reception to the topic “Chu’s Orange Latte” (#褚橙拿铁#) which has only gained 2.35 million views since its launch on 31 Dec.