The joy of having some chitty chats over packs of snacks has been deeply rooted in China’s socialising culture and this is particularly true on special occasions like Chinese New Year.
When gathering with family members and long-missed friends, snacking plays as essential a role in China as drinking pints of beers in the West. It is the thing that brings people together to socialise. As a result, this custom-turned consumption trend has brought out the emerging New Year snack market, drawing in not only those specialised in snack food but also e-commerce giants who look to gain a slice of a growing market.
Three Squirrels, China’s largest online snacks retailer and an expert in nuts and dried fruit snacks, has so far reported an accumulated online sale of over 2.8 billion RMB ($440.2 million) since January 2022. Its rivals, including Be & Cherry (a Chinese snack maker acquired by Pepsi in 2020) and Bestore, also saw applaudable results. With 50 million RMB ($7.86 million) recorded by Be & Cherry from sales on Juhuasuan (a group-buying online platform owned by Alibaba) and 80 million RMB ($12.58 million, a 94.1% year-on-year increase) generated by Bestore on Tmall during the same period of time. Such a noticeable increase in snack sales, on one hand, is driven by consumer demands. On the other hand, it also comes from the diversified marketing efforts from both snack makers and online platforms.
While food retailers like the above three have been leveraging China’s digital landscape at full speed, pulling up their online engagements by teaming up with a range of influencers across different social media, such as Douyin, Kuaishou, and Xiaohongshu. Others have capitalised on the national wave of guochao, such as collaborating with The Nation’s Greatest Treasures (a history and cultural documentary commissioned by China’s state media CCTV), to replicate historical objects and incorporate them into their contemporary snack offers.
By making considerable new strides and producing greater quality marketing, the snack industry has managed to leverage new consumer bases and a larger appetite for their products.
In the meantime, online platforms and tech giants, namely Alibaba (owner of Taobao and Tmall) and JD.com, have been treating the New Year snack shopping season in the same manner they do during the annual shopping extravaganza’s like JD.com’s 618 and Tmall’s Double 11. Thanks to their technical support, the virtual shopping experience has been sprinkled with interactive activities and surprise coupons, which helps to direct more online traffic to retailers. In addition, better logistic service afforded by e-commerce platforms like JD.com even during the holiday improves the whole consumer experience.
By tapping into the Chinese socialising culture, and adapting it to the modern society with a digital twist, the combined offers from food retailers and tech firms cater to Chinese consumers’ needs of observing the celebrating tradition while injecting jolly spirits to entertain those young snackers.