As a D2C (direct-to-customer) online instant coffee brand, Saturnbird Coffee has reached immense success in just a few years and has become very popular among Chinese young consumers. The brand opened its first offline concept shop, located in Shanghai, signaling the start of its offline business.
Saturnbird Coffee adopted an online-to-offline retail strategy along with a digital-first marketing approach to appeal to young people. Offline will be an important carrying channel for its brand communication and content. The store has been designed with bricks, metal, and special tables and chairs, which also highlights the concept of “into the force”. In terms of the products, several special coffee products have also brought fresh feelings to consumers and become a photogenic spot for posting on social media. Saturnbird also launched an ordering service on its WeChat Mini program, where consumers can order coffee, bread, and other complementary products online. The mode of “offline stores + online Mini-programs” seems to be reproducing the mode of the bubble tea segment.
It is an interesting trend that one finds many brands opt to open offline stores once they achieve success online. In 2019, Saturnbird Coffee opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Changsha, Hunan Province. Saturnbird is also creating co-branding campaigns with other brands, including the famous bubble tea brand Chayan Yuese. In 2020, the brand explored offline channels again together with Chayan Yuese, gaining good feedback from the customers.
The tale of integration of online and offline in coffee is continuing in every corner of China. The online market has become increasingly saturated and the offline market is an effective pathway to release this bottleneck. Saturnbird enriches its own development channels to minimize risks, strengthen its interaction with users, and extend the brand’s ‘cultural DNA’.
It is reported that offline coffee chain stores in China doubled their valuation in only 5 months, with each store values hundreds of millions RMB. In our previous news, we have mentioned that Manner Coffee secured a new round of financing with a post-investment valuation of US$1.3 billion. Another Chinese online instant coffee brand Yongpu Coffee has revealed its plans to officially enter the offline market this year. At the same time, offline coffee chains have also explored new retail models. Last year, Starbucks teamed up with Alibaba to launch “Starbucks Now” on multiple platforms such as Taobao, Amap, Koubei, and Alipay, allowing customers to pre-order and pay for their favorite beverage and food online, and then pick it up in-person at a Starbucks store.
“A booming scene” has been widely used to describe the development of the coffee industry in China in the past years; however, this also means that the market has become extremely competitive for online brands and offline chain brands alike.