China Food

Lu Zhengyao noodle shop opened. With a debt of 2.1 billion, can he turn around with this bowl of “noodles”?

human high-quality “pasta” is a fierce battle among the three factions promoted by capital.

Text: Wang Xiaoxuan   

Source: whale merchant (ID: bizwhale)

A small bowl of ramen carries a 100 billion track.
In early 2020, after the east window incident of Ruixing coffee, its founder Lu Zhengyao was burdened with more than 2.1 billion debts, which limited high consumption. After staying dormant for more than a year, it is rumored that he recently returned to the Jianghu and started his “fun noodles” again in Beijing, or tried to return to the peak by relying on “a bowl of noodles”.
In addition to the “doer” who founded two listed companies, Shenzhou car rental and Ruixing coffee, capital is intensively entering the pasta track. According to the enterprise investigation, in the first half of this year alone, 12 pasta tracks were financed, and the cumulative amount disclosed exceeded 1 billion yuan, including many traditional offline chain brands.
The online popular brands such as Ramen theory, jinmiantang and a Kuan have developed very rapidly in recent years and once became the trend for young people to choose. Traditional giants such as uni president and Master Kang did not wait to die and tried their best to push through the old and bring forth the new. The offline chain brands with certain potential, such as Lanzhou ramen, Hefu Laomian and Xiaomian, have expanded rapidly with capital support, and also opened up “fast food” shelf products.
With the rise of “single economy” and “one person food”, the tripartite forces have rapidly expanded the capacity of pasta track. However, pasta, as a rigid demand, has entered a white hot competition with the popularity of capital. To judge whether Lu Zhengyao can turn around by “interesting facets”, we need to clearly understand the current competition pattern of the three forces.
Ramen’s subdivision track “stuck”
In 2015, takeout platforms began to rise. Stimulated by company subsidies such as meituan and hungry, many urban white-collar workers and college students abandoned “unhealthy” instant noodles and put them into the arms of diversified takeout.
According to relevant reports, the sales volume of instant noodles once fell to the bottom in 2016, with only 38.52 billion copies sold in the whole year, the lowest in the past five years.
At that time, the unit price of traditional bagged instant noodles was still within 5 yuan. Offline giants such as Lanzhou ramen, Mr. Li beef noodles and Hefu fishing noodles had not yet opened up an online battlefield. Aiming at the gap between the two, Yao Qidi founded the instant ramen brand of “Ramen theory”, focusing on Japanese ramen. It adopts exquisite packaging, Japanese illustration style food map and square paper packaging to visually attract consumers.
In terms of products, in order to highlight the characteristics of health and convenience, the brand claims to use FD freeze-drying technology to restore the original flavor of the materials. When consumers open the package, they can see ingredients such as noodles, barbecued pork, hemp bamboo shoots, agaric fungus and scallion. 3 minutes ready to eat, highlighting the convenience.
The price of ramen products is generally 12-20 yuan, which is higher than that of traditional instant noodles. In fact, since 2015, Master Kang, uni president and other leaders have continuously arranged the pasta market with a price of more than 5 yuan, but there is no “radical” ramen.
By 2018, many new brands have received the dividend of content grass planting. Ramen theory wants the public to implant the consumption concept of “think of ramen, think of ramen theory”, the so-called “brand is category”. This requires the brand to integrate all channel resources and conduct large-scale marketing to expand its voice.
So, hand pulled noodle said that “spend 1 million”, through the jitter, B station, Xiaohong tiktok and other social platforms coverage of product evaluation video, attracted a large number of long-term “soaked” social software in the young people, and received a better ROI feedback.
These measures have opened up a new competition pattern for the Ramen theory with small volume and shallow qualifications.
In 2020, ramen with certain “ammunition” after several rounds of financing said that Zhennan will be signed as the spokesman next week, and the “top flow” of small fresh meat will attract generation Z. Subsequently, the brand was implanted into many variety shows and TV dramas, so that stars and online celebrities could taste Ramen of different tastes in the program and plant grass for consumers madly. When Ramen said “heating” the track, other brands also saw opportunities.
According to the data of the world instant noodles Association, in 2020, the global consumption of instant noodles reached 116.56 billion copies, with a year-on-year increase of 9.53%. As the world’s largest instant noodles consumption market, China’s consumption reached 46.35 billion copies in 2020, accounting for 40% of the global consumption of instant noodles, far exceeding that of other countries.
Established in 2019, jinmiantang seizes this opportunity and positions the brand as “Chinese noodles”, which is different from Japanese ramen.
The team of jinmiantang investigated pasta all over the country. It not only inherited the Chinese pasta culture and production technology with documentaries, but also refined the differences and essence of all parts, trying to maintain the original flavor of pasta in instant noodles.
In March 2020, jinmiantang landed on tmall. Now, it has two product lines: one is the original soup product line, including three flavors: beef sliced noodles (butter Sichuan spicy), tomato beef noodles and pickled pepper beef noodles; The other is China’s top ten famous noodles series, which classically restores Shaanxi fried noodles and Henan mutton stewed noodles, including 10 regional famous noodles.
At the same time, Wuhan hot and dry noodles and Nanchang mixed flour have become popular products in the live broadcasting room. With the rise of “Cai Linji” hot and dry noodle brand, “Yangji Shanye” powder mixing brand has captured the stomach of many consumers. Baijia food, the parent company of wanghong food “a Kuan red oil pasta”, which focuses on sour and spicy powder, has obtained tens of millions of yuan of financing. These brands innovate around tastes according to regional characteristics, increasing the diversity of fast food tracks.
In terms of playing methods, cutting-edge brands are relatively similar. They all give consumers a sense of freshness through taste innovation, expanding SKU and strengthening marketing. From the perspective of sales growth and brand volume, these “routines” can make cutting-edge brands famous, but the predecessors in the instant noodles industry are also trying a new path.
unification, Master Kang’s Jedi counterattack
Master Kang and uni president, the industry’s predecessors, built a “river and mountain” in their early years with products such as braised beef noodles and laotan pickled vegetable noodles, but the decline of traditional instant noodles has appeared.
Nowadays, the instant noodle track “meets on a narrow road”, and traditional brands still despise cutting-edge brands strategically, because the Ramen segment track is too narrow, and the current volume of the latter is still difficult to become a climate; But tactically, traditional brands have to pay attention to cutting-edge brands. After all, the latter is better at attracting young consumer groups.
In 2016, when Ramen was born, Master Kang’s instant noodle sales in the same year were 22.13 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 10.34%. The unified instant noodle business achieved a year-on-year increase of 8.6%. This is mainly because the new products with more than 5 yuan, such as “metropolitan small pavilion”, “mixed one city” and “man Han meal”, have been loved by some consumers.
In order to adapt to the new competitive environment and meet the personalized needs of consumers, Master Kang launched the high-end product line express express noodle restaurant at the end of 2018. The cooked noodles series of Suda noodle restaurant is priced at 66 yuan / 4 boxes, and the big meat instant noodles can be sold for 113.9 yuan / 6 boxes. It can be seen that the unit price of this product line is more than 15 yuan.
The decision to develop products to medium and high-end is particularly outstanding in the financial report of Master Kang in 2020. Master Kang’s revenue in 2020 was 67.618 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 9.10%. Among them, a large part of the growth of performance is driven by high-priced bag instant noodles. The revenue of high priced bagged instant noodles in 2020 was 13.066 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 28.12%, which was much higher than that of medium priced bagged instant noodles.
Selling instant noodles at a high price can not only increase the price, but also have the characteristics of delicious and healthy. Master Kang had previously carried out popular science in some activities and demonstrated the “whole process quality control system for food processing oil” developed by him. On the one hand, he put an end to the mixing of inferior oil, on the other hand, he ensured the stability of oil quality during frying and avoided the decline of oil quality.
In addition, Master Kang also uses concentration, freeze-drying and other technologies to “lock fresh” to retain the delicious flavor of meat, vegetables and broth. This has played a certain exemplary role in the industry.
Jinmailang also pays attention to the health of products. After exploration and research, the brand started from 0 frying and cooking technology, applied the cooking process of Chinese traditional pasta into the production of instant noodles, and launched the sub brand “laofanjia”, so that instant noodles can be upgraded and become a new growth engine of the enterprise
On the other hand, uni president upgraded the Tangda series launched in 2012. The brand-new tomato, dolphin bone and beef Ramen in golden soup are sold for 80 yuan / 4 boxes with the blessing recommended by Weiya. In 2020, the upgraded version of “Jiwei hall” of Tangda people will be launched uniformly for medium and high-end consumers. Among them, the “Manchu Han meal” series adopts the appearance design of palace style, the surface bowl is covered, and the folding chopsticks replace the plastic fork. The price rose naturally and sold to 79 yuan / 4 boxes.
In addition to product innovation, the advantages of “veteran” are also reflected in the stable supply system and the layout of traditional channels. Master Kang has already built its own factories in Tianjin, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou and other places, and now has added whole process risk management, origin traceability and other systems.
At the beginning of the establishment of new brands, they often take the road of light assets and hand over the production to the agent factory. The brand focuses on the marketing mode, and the strength of quality control and innovation is weak.
It can be seen that Master Kang and Tongyi can “go to a higher level” with their own advantages, but learning from young brands and “rejuvenating” the brand is also the only way.
Online counterattack of offline Tangshi brand
In addition to online brands such as Ramen theory and jinmiantang, as well as old players such as uni president and Master Kang, offline pavilions have also attracted much attention in recent years.
In the first half of this year, several hundred billion level financing occurred in chain noodle restaurant brands, and even some new noodle restaurants opened less than a year were promoted to 1 billion level due to financing.
As a brand born in 2012, Hefu Laomian obtained its first financing three years after its establishment. Since 2015, there have been 6 rounds of financing for Hefu Laomian, with an amount of more than 1.6 billion yuan. Tencent investment, Longhu capital, CMC capital, Huaying capital and Rongxun assets have become shareholders of Hefu noodles.
Founded in 2014, Xiaomian also conducted five rounds of financing, of which the fifth financing was as high as 3 billion yuan. Why are they so favored by capital?
Over the years, there are many players in the offline food track, but most of them are husband and wife stores and retail shops, which are difficult to form a brand and have a low degree of chain. At the beginning of its establishment, Hefu Laomian built the store into a “study” style. The visual high-level sense makes consumers think that the price of this store is naturally not cheap. In fact, according to the data of public comments, the price of Hefu Laomian is about 50 yuan per capita, which is indeed a medium and high-end pasta brand.
Its products are mainly Chinese noodle soup, while selling noodles, rice fishing and various snacks. The audience is mainly white-collar workers and students. For consumers, the biggest selling point of this store may be free noodles to meet the needs of different food quantities.
In order to efficiently manage the stores, Hefu Laomian has developed a standardized management process. For example, snacks and cold dishes are displayed first, and the staple food menu is the last, which is in line with the diet process of most consumers. In addition, Hefu Laomian has also established a supply chain and central factory system that can support 1000 stores, as well as an information system including supply chain, operation and logistics.
By the end of June 2021, the total number of Hefu Laomian stores in China has exceeded 340, mainly brand direct sales. With the financing injection, the speed of opening stores has been significantly accelerated. On average, a new store is opened every two days nationwide, and the total number of stores is expected to reach 450 by the end of the year.
However, the expansion of the scale will bring problems of food safety and quality control. The recent “dead mouse” incident of Hefu Laomian is a lesson from the past.
In addition, the main specialty pasta in Sichuan and Chongqing is small noodles, mainly including red bowl of pea miscellaneous noodles, hand copied in cash, hot and sour powder and roasted pig feet.
The deployment mode of “factory + DC (distribution center) + store” is adopted. Compared with the form of central kitchen, it has stronger expansibility and lower management cost. As of July this year, nearly 150 stores have been opened, distributed in 12 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
At present, a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend in pasta chain brands.
In addition to Hefu fishing for noodles and meeting small noodles, there are three Lanzhou ramens: Chen Xianggui, Ma Yongji and Zhang Lala. Among them, Ma Jiyong, founded the year before last, only opened 30 stores, which was overvalued by Sequoia China by 1 billion yuan. The brand valuations of Chen Xianggui and Zhang Lala also reached 1 billion yuan and 400 million yuan respectively.
These stores can give consumers the freshest pasta and improve the user experience. The offline chain pasta brands such as Hefu Laomian and Xiaomian have opened up online flagship stores and joined the battlefield of instant noodles.
In the future, the competition of three food brands will only accelerate the horse racing and enclosure of new and old players. Facing consumers with low loyalty, it will be more and more difficult to keep their stomach.
Original title: can the founder of Ruixing coffee, who has a debt of 2.1 billion, turn over with this bowl of “noodles”?
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