China Food

Hefu Laomian vs Xiaomian: which one is more like “China McDonald’s”?

catering is like a marathon. What matters is not who runs fast in the first kilometer.
If the first half of 2020 after the epidemic is the darkest time for the catering industry in the past decade, the first half of 2021 will be the highlight of the catering industry.
In the past seven months, four “noodle bosses” have raised more than 100 million, and some brands have been marked with a valuation of 1 billion in the initial stage. The horn of “new noodle shop grab war” has sounded, and good targets are already hot in the capital market. Entrepreneurs can’t help feeling that “selling noodles is better than doing business all over”.
However, after reading the major reports, we are still concerned about the number of stores and other common topics. This story of rapid expansion was out of date when Huang Taiji declined a few years ago.
Moreover, young people represented by generation Z are more picky about consumer brands. New things such as central kitchen, retailing and digitization have long launched more than one “catering revolution”, and various star stores that thought catering money was easy to earn also frequently overturned.
When the industry comes to “redo”, what does the “new species” look like? All kinds of new models are blooming everywhere. Whose model can really run through? We have selected two hundred million level financing projects that occurred this month to gain insight.
First, Hefu fished noodles. Round e received 800 million financing, setting a new high in the field of “new noodle restaurant”. Its investors include CMC capital, Tencent investment, LFC, etc., mainly financial investors;
The second is to meet Xiaomian. In just three months, the valuation tripled, creating a new high in the financing growth of “new noodle restaurant”. The new round of investment is led by Country Garden venture capital and followed by xijiade, plus Baifu holdings and jiumaojiu group. The management is mainly industrial investors.
These two noodle brands are the same students of the new generation: Hefu Laomian opened its first store in Shanghai in 2013 and met Xiaomian, which was established in Guangzhou in 2014. This period happened to be the eve of the transformation from traditional catering to new catering, and capital also had an example of entering the catering industry at this time. What is more interesting is that the founders of the two countries mentioned to be “China’s McDonald’s” on different occasions.
Hefu Laomian and Xiaomian are both new noodle racetracks. They are not only in the same catering development cycle, but also in the same capital cycle. This is the comparability of the birth of the same place, but also become the head brand of the new noodle racetrack.
Hefu Laomian has won 6 rounds of financing and has opened more than 300 stores so far; Meeting Xiaomian announced five rounds of financing and opened nearly 150 stores. If judged only by numbers, Hefu Laomian has an obvious advantage. However, under the fine products, the two modes represent two playing methods. The advantages of Hefu are obvious, and the small side has just exposed the tip of the iceberg.
This paper will be committed to unlocking and comparing the two models for investors, entrepreneurs and industry people to disassemble the current core competitiveness and future direction of the “new noodle shop” track.
Product matrix:
Fashion products vs classic products
In Shaanxi, a bowl of oily trouser belt noodles is enough to comfort the hard work of Guanzhong men in a day; In Chongqing, the steaming noodles can make local people suck noodles, and don’t forget to say “Bashi is very good!”
This kind of deep-rooted “that mouth” accumulated in people’s gastrointestinal memory for thousands of years has entered the commercial society and been disciplined into a new word – product matrix. In the law that category determines brand ceiling, product matrix is a core keyword.
Parent culture is the source and the sum of the results of people in a certain region dealing with various social and natural environments. For example, in order to cope with the unique climate and customs of Sichuan and Chongqing, Sichuan cuisine, a spicy style cuisine, was born in the diet. The products with the mother naturally have a mass base and are familiar with it.
Nowadays, entrepreneurship focuses on remodeling and innovation, so fashion products are extended beyond traditional products. We can also divide fashion products into two categories:

One is to use the product matrix as an innovation – innovative products with the product matrix, such as Taier’s chrysanthemum petals + pickled cabbage fish, and then, for example, the crisp and greasy roast duck recovered and developed by Da Dong from Dazhaimen books. These innovations based on the product matrix are very popular in the market, and the popular timeline has continued.
the second is fashion products without a clear product matrix, such as cheese ribs, coke and chicken wings.

There are many popular products of such products. The most common sign is to rush into the microblog hot search and be active in the headlines of various fashion bloggers such as xiaohongshu. However, there will be great doubts in the life cycle after tasting new products and seeking novelty. Some people put forward the view that “the brand should be redone every three or five years” for new consumption.
When it comes to meeting noodles, customers’ first reaction is Chongqing noodles, as well as spicy noodles, pea noodles, beef noodles, fat sausage noodles and other related products. The product matrix is solid enough and naturally has its own market acceptance.
The brand positioning language of “not in Chongqing, meet Xiaomian” is to spread by borrowing the product matrix. The recently launched new products, xiaocrisp spicy Xiaomian and Bangbang shredded chicken noodles, are also deeply dug in the product matrix.
The challenge is that everyone will have expectations for the products they know, and it is not easy for the brand to achieve this expectation. After all, people in Sichuan and Chongqing have eaten this small noodle for hundreds of years. Whether it is authentic or not is a challenge to face for a long time.
From the beginning of starting a business, Hefu has embarked on the road of innovation: “fishing for noodles in the study” has become a positioning language. In an antique environment full of books, a series of products, such as pig cartilage, beef ribs, Angus fat cattle, herbal soup noodles and red wine soup noodles, are enough to meet the taste desire of most consumers. Even if there is not one you like enough, there are enough you want to try – anyway, you haven’t eaten noodles cooked in red wine.
Customers will not compare with expectations for products that have not yet established awareness. Therefore, no one will discuss whether Hefu Laomian is authentic, only whether it tastes delicious, and it is impossible to compare the price, because no one sells herbal soup noodles and red wine soup noodles in the market, which paves the way for the high customer list in pricing.
However, there is no clear product matrix, which also brings trouble to Hefu. Consumers have a vague understanding of its brand, and regular customers can’t tell where they eat noodles, which makes it more difficult to spread the brand.
If history is not visible, its future is unimaginable. Behind catering is cultural support, separated from the product matrix, and the later stage must be short-lived. But history is created by people. The absence of successful cases in the past does not mean that it will not succeed in the future. Times are changing and consumer demand is changing.
In the noodle shop category, it is better to have a cultural matrix or not. Which is more in line with the consumer demand of this era can only be answered by time.
Positioning Pricing:
60 per capita government face vs 30 per capita people face
In the catering industry, there are many cases where the per capita consumption is directly proportional to the store volume. In western style restaurants, there are 7000 KFC stores with a per capita of 30 yuan, 2000 Pizza Hut stores with a per capita of 60 yuan, and less than 100 pizza masano stores with a per capita of 120 yuan; The tea category is also obvious. There are 10000 stores in miyue ice city with a per capita of 8 yuan, 2000 stores with a per capita of 15 yuan, and 800 happy tea stores with a per capita of 30 yuan.
The price of 60 yuan per capita consumption of Hefu Laomian obviously anchors the high-end fast and simple noodle restaurant. Up to now, more than 300 stores in Hefu are basically located in the first tier and provincial capital cities, all over high-end shopping centers and transportation hubs.
According to the feedback of insiders, the stores of Hefu Laomian perform better in Beijing and Shanghai with the highest consumption level, and almost half of the stores are also distributed here. But other cities have mediocre performance.
This may lay hidden worries for long-term growth: China’s leading cities are limited, and there is only one Beijing and one Shanghai in the country. This is a high-quality market for establishing brands, but the success of high-end brands in first tier cities may be difficult to replicate in large quantities to the sinking market. Based on this, Hefu Laomian began to explore hotpot, tavern and other store types, constantly expand the scene and maintain high-end positioning.
Different from the government study culture of Hefu Laomian, it is the common people culture that meets Xiaomian. The fast and simple meal of 30 yuan per capita anchors the mainstream fast and simple meal price in first tier cities. At present, the vast majority of the nearly 150 stores that meet Xiaomian are also distributed in the first tier cities, but the channels are wider, covering shopping malls, transportation hubs, community 24-hour stores, office areas, exhibitions and other occasions. They are also distributed in the second and third tier cities.
Song Qi, its founder, mentioned in the interview that “the small side is kind. Although the small side is small, it is everywhere”. It seems that Xiaomian intends to layout various types of business districts and test the model.
However, 30 yuan is still expensive for the sinking market. After all, Lu Zhengyao, who has just failed in the coffee market, claims to achieve a unit price of less than 10 yuan. From the product supply chain to store operation, facets are much more complex than coffee. It is unknown whether the method of unit price, number of stores and speed can work.
Whether it is Hefu Laomian born in Shanghai or Xiaomian founded in Guangzhou, all brands based in the first-line market will face doubts about sinking and opening stores while enhancing the brand potential.
In China, fast food brands such as McDonald’s and KFC are positioned at 30 yuan per capita, while the positioning of 60 yuan per capita is close to “Pizza Hut in China”. From this perspective, the higher the customer unit price, the greater the challenge.
For Hefu fishing for noodles and meeting small noodles, if you want to become China’s McDonald’s, you are bound to fight for the scale and sinking ability of opening stores in the future. Behind it is the continuous improvement of efficiency. Returning these efficiency dividends to customers and controlling the price of “low flying” can stifle the living space of competitors. The key behind it is the application of high technologies such as enterprise digitization and intelligence.
Entrepreneurial gene:
Successful people’s second venture vs Kochi team starting from scratch
Before joining the catering industry, Li Xuelin, founder of Hefu instant noodles, made 3C category in Jiangsu Jitong, which is already a leading enterprise in its regional market. Therefore, Hefu instant noodles, which has a great style, has reflected the playing method of “top-level design” since its inception: first, it is “eating noodles”, and second, it is in the supply chain.
It is said that before Hefu opened its first noodle shop, the team did not hesitate to fly around the world to carry out “Noodle Eating” research, which cost almost 10 million yuan. In an interview, its founder Li Xuelin pointed out that “only after spending more than 10 million yuan can we really understand the market and the essential needs of users”.
Since then, another thing the Hefu team has done is to build its own supply chain. It is planned to build a supply chain with a capacity of 1000 stores before the formal launch of the project. It shows that the second entrepreneurial advantage with experience: holding high and fighting high.
The entrepreneurial experience of meeting Xiaomian is more like the “counter attack” of grassroots entrepreneurship of high-tech molecules. Song Qi graduated from Hong Kong University of science and technology with a master’s degree. In order to achieve the “catering dream” of McDonald’s in China, he joined McDonald’s (Hong Kong, China) and Yum (China). In 2014, he and two other students from South China University of technology resigned to start a business and pieced together 300000 starting funds to start a self-employed business in a small street store with only 30 square meters in Guangzhou. Buy vegetables, make noodles, recruit people, and do everything yourself.
If Li Xuelin took 10 million yuan as the top-level design, Song Qi took 10000 hours as the basic practice.
The two founding teams represent two distinct genes and entrepreneurial methods.
The entrepreneurial genes of successful people in Hefu Laomian have created its brand positioning of high style, heavy scene and high customer list; In contrast, when you meet the self-made entrepreneurial gene of Xiaomian, the final choice is to redo the familiar products and become a young and grounded brand in the way of old drama and new singing. These genes from the founding team determine the future direction of business.
Development strategy:
Heavy investment diversified group vs focus on gambling super brand
The founder of Hefu Laomian said, “what we do is not noodles, but a concept called lifestyle.” This can be seen from the trademark information under Hefu group.
There are 473 trademark information under Hefu group, and the commercial territory covers noodle restaurant, cooking restaurant, Hefu hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot, etc. In terms of the secondary cards that have been landed, there are the God of wealth noodles whose per capita, products and ordering methods are similar to those of Hefu Laomian; There are also “Hefu hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot and her noodles” with registered trademarks and on the ground; There is also the “small noodle wine of Hefu” with the edge of the tavern.
But the multi brand route is not easy. Meixin group in Hong Kong, China and wangpin group in Taiwan, China claim to have dozens of brands, but few can really produce brand value through large-scale development, and more is to dig deep into financial value in small markets. Although Yum China is in a big market and has more than a dozen brands through self creation, acquisition and agency, it mainly relies on KFC to carry the banner, and its exploration in Chinese food is almost completely destroyed.
From the perspective of enterprise selection, there are two fundamental reasons for multi brand playing. One is capacity overflow. Enterprises with people, money and ability can naturally try more; Second, the main business is weak and eager to find the second growth curve.
When I met Xiaomian, I followed Starbucks and McDonald’s and took a route to be a super brand. Unlike Hefu group, which has registered a bunch of trademarks far away from noodles, almost all the trademarks under “meeting noodles” are about “meeting noodles”.
Song Qi, founder of Xiaomian, who has repeatedly expressed that he wants to be “China’s McDonald’s and the world’s Xiaomian”, once said in an interview that spicy is the biggest common divisor of Chinese youth’s taste and is easy to become addicted. Therefore, Sichuan and Chongqing flavor represented by spicy has become a category for deep cultivation of small noodles.
Therefore, Xiaomian is committed to focusing on a single brand, “making a depth of one kilometer on the width of one centimeter”, and then making horizontal and vertical extension after reaching a certain scale and strength, such as McDonald’s maccoffee and Starbucks bottled drinks.
If a brand can represent a category, it will become a super brand, which is the ultimate dream of all consumer brands. Meeting noodles to be a super brand is more like putting all eggs in the same basket. With China’s consumption volume and international influence, to be a super brand in the face market is the scale of 100 billion enterprises. The only question is, can the strength of these young people support their ambitions?
In terms of supply chain, self built factories are the most mentioned in the use of financing funds for Hefu Laomian. After heavy bets on the supply chain, its focus has become to develop various eating concepts in order to consume the capacity of the supply chain. The newly opened “Hefu home” focuses on retail consumption scenes, including a number of staple foods and side dishes, such as fresh boiled noodles, microwave rice, prefabricated dishes, etc.
In the face of small problems, the supply chain did not focus on assets, but chose to cooperate with mature supply chain enterprises such as YIHAI KERRY, new hope and Shuhai.
Whether the supply chain is self built is the focus of constant debate in the industry.
Industry leaders such as Haidilao and jiumaojiu have adopted the strategy of building their own supply chain. Yihai and Shuhai, the supply chains of Haidilao, began to provide external services after maturity, and became independent listed companies after spin off.
However, among the world’s top 500 companies, there are also consumer goods companies such as apple, Nike and McDonald’s that are deeply dependent on the supply chain and choose to combine with the best suppliers rather than build their own factories. In McDonald’s proud “triangle stool” relationship, suppliers are indispensable.
Some people say that if you don’t have a good factory, how can you produce good products? Others say that I don’t have a good factory, so I can use the best factory in the world to make the best products. Cognition is the core competitiveness of an enterprise or entrepreneur. The essence of the path difference between Hefu fishing for noodles and meeting small noodles is the different strategies brought about by different cognition.
Capital loves “eating noodles”  
But money can’t solve all the problems
Although the data of nearly 150 stores that meet Xiaomian is not superior under the crazy trend this year, its store opening speed has kept doubling every year in recent years. It is expected to break through 1000 stores in 2024, continue to advance into the first tier cities, and accelerate the layout of the second tier cities.
According to the public data of Hefu Laomian, as of June 2021, the number of Hefu Laomian stores was 340, the number of stores in 2021 will double that in 2020, and the number of stores will reach 450 by the end of this year.
After several years of precipitation, both sides hold billions or even hundreds of millions of cash, and are constantly financing, with the ability to speed up the pace of opening stores. At present, the valuation of Hefu Laomian has reached 6 billion and that of Xiaomian has reached 3 billion.
However, the number of stores and financing valuation are likely to be false propositions, and money can not solve all problems.
In the catering market, which is sufficiently dispersed, the demand of customers is that a hundred flowers bloom in the market, and any model will have the opportunity to find its own living space. The essence of catering is the service industry. The service industry is ultimately an operation oriented industry attribute. Without a solid single store model, a stable supply chain and strong organizational power, it will only lose itself in the catalysis of capital chaos, and eventually the store will destroy people.
Catering is like a marathon. What matters is not who runs fast in the first kilometer.
Although there are already large-scale chains such as Ajisen ramen, jiumaojiu and xijiade at the pasta track, the chain rate of 15% of Chinese catering enterprises is still far from 50% in the United States and Japan.
When meeting Xiaomian, Hefu Laomian is not the only player in the “new noodle shop” track. Ma Jiyong, Chen Xianggui and Zhang Lala, the “three treasures” of Lanzhou ramen, which suddenly rose in the magic capital Shanghai this year, have three years to sink the market and expand hundreds of stores. Wuye noodles have obtained huge financing this year and are growing rapidly.
For China’s top brands and catering investors, this is the best decade and probably the last decade. The logic of Matthew effect and the strong has been gradually realized in this industry. Once the industry pattern is established, it is difficult to break.
Today, the new noodle shop track, Hefu Laomian and Xiaomian have become the top brands in their respective segments, and there are also opportunities to grow two distinct “new species”. The growth of all things can reflect the vitality of a business or culture, and becoming “China McDonald’s” is only a metaphor. Hefu fishing noodles and meeting Xiaomian have the opportunity to influence an era as the representative of Chinese catering culture.
Author: Qian dehu; Source: Huxiang app (ID: Huxiu)_ COM), reprint has been authorized. Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246);
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