Yuanshang Coffee in China - food tech news in Asia

If I choose one drink to represent the city of Shanghai, the first thing that comes to mind is coffee. According to the Shanghai Coffee Consumption Index released by Shanghai in 2021, there are more than 7,000 coffee shops in Shanghai, more than any city in the world. Compared with 3233 in London, 3826 in Tokyo, and 1591 in New York, Shanghai ranks first in terms of the total number of cafes.

Many coffee brands gathered at the Lujiazui International Coffee Culture Festival that just ended not long ago, including Starbucks, Nestlé, Yongpu, and many more. Among the various coffee brands, one brand has attracted attention; its products are named after the five elements of “metal, wood, water, fire and earth”, which combines coffee, an exotic product, with traditional Chinese elements. And different from the traditional way of freshly ground and hand-brewed coffee, the brand chooses to use small cans of instant coffee for special blending, which is really a novel way of thinking. The name of the brand is Yuangshang Coffee.

After investigation, it looks like that the Tmall GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) of this new brand, which has only been established for two months, exceeds one million RMB sales (~US$ 156,800) in a single month. What is the reason for this fledgling brand gaining such large-scale consumer attention in such a short time? There are two main factors – one is the unique product design and the other is a different marketing strategy.

At present, with the new trend of consumers in China going back to traditional themes, the choices of young people are no longer monopolized by foreign brands. The rise of brands, such as Saturnbird and Yongpu, also proves that domestic products are gradually gaining the right to speak in the coffee business. Yuanshang Coffee applies innovation in its products’ package. Yuanshang introduces the image of Chinese traditional culture – “round”, symbolizing perfection. Whether it is the five-element circle of the product name, or the round small can, it represents Yuanshang Coffee’s unique interpretation of traditional Chinese culture. Choosing the five elements as the product name also conforms to the current popular traditional trend.

Where short videos and live broadcasts are becoming so popular, consumers seem to focus not only on the product itself. Fancy editing, fast-paced scripts, and huge discounts on online content platforms have become the reasons for consumers to place orders. Massive amounts of information are being poured in, and consumer behavior changes accordingly. In the post-epidemic era, not only online consumption has been stimulated, but consumers also cherish the opportunity to participate in offline activities.

Yuanshang Coffee launched the “Sleepwalking” activity by teaming up with over 200 independent boutique coffee shops in 7 major cities – Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Tianjin; the brand presents sleepwalking driver’s licenses to consumers and encourages everyone to punch in and get special coffee drinks in the form of commemorative medals. Coffee can wake up tired drivers, and the activity named “sleepwalking” reflects the brand’s desire to bring consumers an immersive coffee experience.

At present, Yuanshang coffee is in its initial stage of development and there are certain limitations in terms of channel and brand building. The brand also mentioned that the “Yuanshang sleepwalking” campaign is limited by the size of the team, and it can only be promoted one city at a time. The road to breaking through to success is difficult and long, and it may be difficult for us to show a clear path in a short period of time. However, Yuanshang Coffee desire for innovation makes us expect more business possibilities for the brand and more surprises for consumers in the future.

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