Avada Bobo ice, which is co branded with hi tea, is “out of stock”, and Avada flavor waffles, which are co branded with McDonald’s, have “played a greater cooperation” because of their good sales. Avada cake rolls, Avada popcorn puffs and Avada sandwich waffles launched by local prepackaged baking brands are sold well
Perhaps many diners will find that in the past two or three years, ah Huatian, known as “the childhood memories of the post-80s and post-90s”, has begun to be active again in people’s vision, and has also captured a number of new young consumers. This Swiss brand officially entered the Chinese market in 1993, especially in South and East China. It was all the rage, but it was silent a few years ago.
“As of August 31 this year, in the 2021 fiscal year, the growth rate of the business in China ranked the first in the world and the absolute value of growth ranked the second in the world, reaching a record high. In the view of the headquarters, the business in China can be regarded as a star performance. We have made good progress both on the consumer side and the supplier channel side.” Du Gang, general manager of a Huatian brand, told the snack generation a few days ago.
Du Gang, general manager of a Huatian brand
Behind this is a Huatian’s continuously enriched and expanded product line in recent years, as well as the brand reconstruction and a series of innovative playing methods invested heavily.
Xiaoshidai noticed that at this year’s fair, ahuatian launched two new products – classic high wheat malt cocoa powder and ahuatian cool crisp mood sandwich biscuits. It is worth noting that this is also the first time that this century old Swiss brand has entered the biscuit category in China. At present, ahuatian has a rich product line in China, covering powder, ready to drink and snacks.
During the exclusive exchange with the snack generation at the Expo, Du Gang also “revealed” in detail the reasons for ah Huatian’s success in becoming popular again and the specific measures to promote “maintaining high growth momentum” in the next five years. Tonight, the snack generation will take you to listen to the latest ideas of this foreign brand with its own “childhood feelings”.
From “nutrition” to “delicious”
In Du Gang’s opinion, there are two important turning points in the development process of ah Huatian in the Chinese market for more than 20 years: one is to turn losses into profits in 2008; Second, strategic brand positioning changes were made in 2018, which is also the starting point of high growth in recent years.
“What we are focusing on now is delicious. Slogan is’ sunshine ahuatian, delicious positive energy ‘, and no longer puts too much emphasis on nutrition.” Du Gang explained to xiaoshidai that ahuatian, as a beverage of malt cocoa powder, has been focusing on nutrition since it entered China, but in 2018, some problems were found through consumer survey.
He said, first of all, the survey found that ahuatian’s brand awareness is declining, especially in some areas with low penetration, such as central China and North China. Secondly, for consumers who know the brand, the relevance of ah Huatian with them is not high. “Our target consumer group at that time was the mothers of children aged 6 ~ 12, focusing on providing nutritious and delicious breakfast for the whole family. The crowd positioning and application scenarios of the product were relatively narrow.”
Ahuatian 2021 Expo booth
Therefore, since 2018, a Huatian’s brand positioning has changed significantly. “Our target population has changed. We have become young people aged 18 ~ 35. At the same time, we no longer talk about nutrition, because it already exists in our brand DNA, so we focus on ‘delicious positive energy’ and pass the delicious food to more consumers.” Du Gang told snack generation.
This also makes the product form of ahuatian not only limited to the prepared powder, but also made a lot of product extension in terms of delicacy.
“As long as I have the taste of avatian and meet our quality requirements, I can innovate in many fields and give consumers a different experience of avatian,” Du Gang explained. He sighed to the snack generation that if the direction had not been adjusted in time and had been struggling with weak growth and small-scale categories, ah Huatian might still be in an embarrassing situation today.
What is impressive is that it is revealed that in just over a year since its listing, ahuatian’s instant malt milk beverage extra strong cocoa has now surpassed powder products and become the company’s best-selling single product in the Chinese market.
“This product is mainly sold in retail and e-commerce channels. At present, it is the single product with the highest proportion of our sales.” Du Gang said that this is also because compared with powder, ready to drink products are more convenient, more scenes and strong channel penetration. At the same time, a Huatian also made a lot of efforts in packaging, such as printing blessings such as “every test must pass”, “water reverse scattered retreat” and so on.
A Huatian powder, ready to drink and snacks and other products
Now, the food company’s overall vision for the product portfolio is that powder is still the core, but ready to drink (RTD) and snacks (RTE) are the main incremental sources in the future.
For example, the classic gaomai malt cocoa powder launched at the Expo is intended to strengthen the core powder business. “This new product is not only a classic return but also a more high-end version to meet the market demand,” Du Gang said. The new product is based on the direction and formula of Switzerland’s original A Hua field products. The malt extract reaches 65%, high protein content, and contains 7 vitamins and 5 minerals.
Classic sorghum malt cocoa powder
Another biscuit product launched at the Expo is a new attempt of ahuatian in the snack (RTE) business.
“Ah Huatian has never made biscuits in China, but in fact, biscuits are a very large business category of ah Huatian in Switzerland, and it is consistent with my new brand positioning, that is, to use different product forms to deliver delicious food to more consumers.” Du Gang said that ah Huatian had a consumer test in China earlier and asked them: “In addition to powder, what do you think is suitable for making ahuatian flavor?” as a result, biscuits ranked first.
Ah Huatian cool crisp mood sandwich biscuit
The snack generation noticed that although the inspiration of ahwatian cool crisp mood sandwich biscuit came from Switzerland, it also made a lot of localized ideas. “Our biscuits will be smaller, and there will be more biscuits, so that we can control the weight and have greater satisfaction each time. In addition, we have added some expression packs that young people like to use now to increase interest and social attributes,” Du Gang said.
Jointly open a “new situation”
So, after repositioning, how should ahwatian make efforts on the brand end to improve its popularity and popularity? The “shortcut” chosen by this Swiss brand is to cooperate with brands popular with consumers.
At the beginning, the joint cooperation with Xi tea in 2019 made ah Huatian taste the sweetness. “We didn’t expect that the products were basically sold out as soon as they were on the market. Xi tea was initially distributed in large warehouses, and stores delivered goods as long as they placed an order. Finally, it was a quota system, so that some stores wouldn’t get a can of ah Huatian,” Du Gang recalled.
Interestingly, he told xiaoshidai that when the joint theme came out, everyone’s first reaction was to play with childhood memories, but consumer survey data showed that the first of the three keywords with the highest relevance was actually “delicious”.
“The general feedback from consumers is that it’s delicious. For example, our powder and our cool crisp sauce are used in the tea loving ahuatian Bobo ice. The whole product tastes rich and has a strong sense of satisfaction,” Du Gang said.
A joint product of Huatian and Xi tea
After the successful cooperation with Xi tea, ah Huatian opened a “joint name road” like philately.
For example, the snack generation noticed that in October 2020, ahuatian and McDonald’s cooperated to launch ahuatian flavor waffles. “We planned to sell them for four weeks, but within two weeks, all the goods prepared were sold short.” Du Gang told the snack generation, “So next, we made a wave of larger cooperation. In March this year, we listed a number of CO branded products in all McDonald’s stores and dessert stations across the country, including waffles, milk tea, thousand layer cake and so on.”
The results of the second cooperation are still surprising. “This time we have 10 times more goods than the first, but many areas are still sold out soon,” Du Gang said, “What I personally felt at the dessert station is also very exaggerated. This time, there was a specially designed envelope for the co branded waffle. Three days after the activity, I went to the dessert shop near my home, and the clerk told me that all the envelopes of the co branded waffle had been used up.”
Co branded products of a Huatian and McDonald’s
Obviously, whether it is popularity or penetration, this series of joint cooperation has produced a great improvement effect on ahuatian brand.
In addition, Du Gang pointed out to the snack generation that this has also broken the previous product limitations of ah Huatian. “For example, I found that our cooperation in ice cream was successful. In the past, most of our sales of malt cocoa powder were concentrated in winter, and now we can have suitable products in summer, spring and autumn.”
“Many things will naturally have good results only if you have the right direction and put your energy into doing them. Facts have proved that only by strengthening the brand can sales come up. Now, we have completely deviated from the original growth track. In the past two years, our growth curve has approached 90 degrees. At this stage, I think we (high growth) have just begun.” Du Gang said.
Plan for the next five years
Looking forward to the next five years, Du Gang told xiaoshidai that for a Huatian, there are two clear growth engines, the first is catering channels and the second is ready to drink products.
He said that over the past few years, ah Huatian’s growth in catering channels has been very good, and it is still in its infancy, with great potential. “In the future, we regard catering as the first growth force of the five-year plan, or in the vanguard position, it needs to make a breakthrough. We need to constantly explore new catering customers and develop new catering products.”
Another big growth engine is ready to drink. “One of our best-selling SKUs is ready to drink products. At present, we have formed a good reputation in the beverage business. We can go deeper and further and improve the penetration rate. There is still a lot of market space to expand in the future.” Du Gang described that, therefore, catering and ready to drink are the “two wings” for ah Huatian to achieve growth in the next five years.
A variety of imported products
In addition, he mentioned that ahuatian is making some attempts in new areas, such as licensing cooperation with other businesses.
When talking about this cooperation model, Du Gang said that ahuatian would choose high-quality local partners to jointly develop a product with ahuatian flavor, such as cake rolls. “We provide raw materials for ahuatian and authorize the other party to use ahuatian’s logo for product sales, and the sales subject is the authorized company.”
“At present, we have three partners. The products officially launched in July and August this year, and the sales performance of authorized cooperation products is very good, far exceeding our expectations. We will try more in the future, but this model is only to plant a seed in the next five years. At present, it is not our ‘wing’.” he said.
Du Gang mentioned to the snack generation that in order to lay out future growth, ah Huatian will also invest 20 million yuan to build a new production line, increase production capacity and launch more products that meet the tastes and health needs of Chinese consumers.
“Our main theme is delicious. In the future, all products will focus on this core point, and deliver the delicious food of ahuatian to more consumers through different forms, channels and product forms, so as to achieve sustainable growth,” he said.