China Food

Case study | unprecedentedly successful white clay and groping Chinese low alcohol wines

always think from the perspective of users rather than industry, so as to better understand the essence of business.
If I want to nominate what is the representative brand of “new consumption” in the United States, I may not choose a group of American DTC brands known as “the future of consumer goods”; instead, I will be the first to recommend the whole hard seltzer hard soda category with my own strength, and even the brand white clay, which has attracted the end of global beverage and wine giants.
How hot is white clay?
In 2019, white clay’s sales exceeded US $1.5 billion (~ 10 billion yuan) In 2020, the overall scale of the global spirits industry decreased by 8.7%; among the top 22 brands of Diageo, the world’s largest spirits company, the sales volume of only 7 brands increased; the world’s second-largest spirits company, Pernod Ricard, was even worse, only 3 of the top 20 brands achieved sales growth; while white clay achieved sales growth of 139%; according to this estimation, the sales volume in 2020 was ~ 3% US $500 million (~ 22 billion yuan), which is less than five years since the establishment of white clay.
What level is this? We made a simple comparison:
Representatives of our overseas listed DTC brands:
On angpao, with sales of 460 million US dollars in 2020;
Casper, with sales of 497 million US dollars in 2020;
Allbirds, with sales of 219 million US dollars in 2020;
WarBy Parker, with sales of USD 394 million in 2020;
What if we compare with white clay’s wine peers? We only started to expand overseas in the second half of 2020, and only entered the UK and Australia; most of the sales come from white clay in the United States: the sales are 48% of the sales of Diageo, the world’s first spirits group, 26% of the sales of Budweiser InBev, the world’s first beer giant, and Baole, the world’s second spirits group Lijia accounts for 128% of the sales in the United States. Compared with these giants with 20 + different well-known brand combinations, white clay achieves such sales only by relying on the white clay of a single brand. If compared with China, the sales of Tsingtao beer with a market value of 110 billion will only be US $4.3 billion in 2020.
In order to catch up with the upsurge of white clay’s hard soda, almost all the global beverage and wine giants you can think of ended up grabbing business: Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Diageo and constellation group; what’s more, AB InBev ended up acquiring and personally, making more than three hard soda brands. In China, there are a large number of people who see the so-called opportunities and claim to do it Chinese version of white clay.
The more important part of white clay with such outstanding achievements is that white clay did not even rely on innovative DTC; and it is not the first player to enter this market and create a category.
This makes white clay a good business sample to understand what is the core of enterprise success? In all operating levers, what is the most important decisive factor. Why do low alcohol start-ups that claim to be the Chinese version of white clay learn wrong.
White clay is an excellent proof of the business philosophy that people-oriented business consulting adheres to. The only barrier of the enterprise is the understanding of user value.
There are not many studies on white clay in the market. When we checked it, we found that in addition to a large number of statements on the historical evolution of the company’s development and summarizing some basic product features of white clay, we generally concluded that these features make it successful. However, after careful study of its product features, we feel that many statements can not justify themselves at all, It doesn’t explain why white clay is successful. Let’s take a look at what we have summarized the reasons for success:
——   “Low alcohol and easy to drink”   ?
However, Budweiser InBev and other beer giants have supported their core product beer with sales of tens of billions of dollars. For hundreds of years, it has taken “low-grade and easy drinking” as the core selling point. Does white clay beat countless competitors and seize the market by relying on a “perfectly satisfied demand”?
Even, the 5 ° alcohol level of white clay is actually higher than that of many traditional beers. The alcohol levels of Budweiser Qingdao and other traditional beers are basically 4 ° – 5 °, not to mention the light version of beer with a lower alcohol level of < 3 °; you say that a new brand with a 5 ° has robbed a large number of giants with products less than 5 ° because it is low alcohol and easy to drink? Is it a little ridiculous?
And, if the low degree is the core driving factor, how to explain that in the past 20 years, a large number of fine brewing beer companies have emerged in the American beer market, and more than 20% of the market share has been robbed by fine brewing beer companies from traditional beer companies, while the degree of fine brewing beer is generally 6 ° – 8 °, or even higher, which is far higher than traditional beer.
Finally, white clay has never considered low alcohol consumption as its core selling point, and does not want to do anything to help young people drink rationally. What does it say? In 2021, John Shea, chief marketing officer of white clay, said, “we found that consumers’ demand is to seek hard drinks with higher alcohol consumption.” According to the consumer insight of this discovery, a new surge product line of up to 8 ° version was launched this year.
Another example is: during the epidemic, a drunken college student party on Lake Michigan beach shouted white clay because he didn’t wear a mask go virtual; We don’t discuss epidemic prevention, but you can see what the consumption behavior of real users is. We have previously proposed that only the user’s consumption behavior can really define the product kernel. What rely on low degree to help young people drink rationally / drink healthily? If there is no “popularity”, the more you believe, the worse you will die.
Coincidentally, veylinx, an innovative user behavior research company, which claims to innovate the highly biased user research methods such as “through the traditional focus group and questionnaire”, shows that increasing alcohol consumption significantly improves the purchase intention of hard seltzer users in the user behavior research survey of hard seltzer.
——   “Healthy low card”?
However, low calorie beer / low calorie pre mixed liquor has existed for more than ten or twenty years, and there are many successful low calorie liquor brands in the U.S. market, and their calories are less than 100 calories. If consumers are attracted by healthy low calorie liquor, how to explain what drives consumers to choose one in the face of well-known low calorie liquor brands in many markets Focus on new products with the same selling points? And is it a rolling choice?
Even Michelob ultra, a low calorie beer brand owned by Budweiser, was rated as the first favorite brand by American consumers by an organization in 2017. The heat of a can is only 69 calories. The demand for low calorie does exist, but you say that white clay with 100 calories, as a new brand, has a high market awareness, and the heat is lower than it, only 69 calories Cards, but also achieved great success; is it absurd to rely on low cards?
Similarly, the new surge of white clay also revealed this signal: there is no 100kal logo on the packaging of the new product surge. The basic business common sense tells us that a company will not easily remove its core selling point from the brand image when launching a new product, just like haifeisi can not easily remove “Dandruff” , vitality forest cannot easily remove “0 sugar”; this is something branded in the foundation of the brand, but it is obvious that the selling point of only 100 cards has not risen to this level for white clay.
The survey of veylinx, the revolutionary innovative user behavior research company mentioned above, shows that it is different from the cognition that it is hard to say anything wrong but almost useless. The research on the user behavior of consumers buying hard seltzer shows that in the decision-making process, the perception of health is unexpectedly low, accounting for only 22%, while the perception of flavor The perception of ranked first, accounting for 54%   (   Think about it: if it is in the form of a questionnaire, is it possible that the ranking of health will be much higher?)  
——   “Low price?”  
When analyzing the low price of hellens’ business model, we mentioned that the absolute price is meaningless, and only the relative price is meaningful. For consumers, Hermes must be cheap for 5000 hermes bags and 1000 famous and high-quality products. Hellens’ low price is low for consumers, but at the company’s operation level, the price is higher than the industry level The average gross profit margin is not a low price
When I arrived at white clay, I couldn’t understand why anyone would come out and say that white clay is a low price? It’s not like Helen’s, and I need to think about it. Open any mainstream liquor e-commerce in the United States, such as saucey, drizly, etc.; we just need to look at the numbers:
For the same 6 cans / 12 oz pack, Budweiser is $7.99; white clay is $13.29; the price of white clay is nearly 70% higher than that of the most famous beer brand with the largest market share in the United States; two brewing processes, product positioning and target groups are very close; a new brand sells 1.7 times the price of the giant, and says that it depends on low price? What is not low price? It should be sold The price of 18 year old oak barrel whisky? This absurd degree is like, you say that the yuan Qi forest of 6 yuan beats the sugar free coke of 3 yuan because it is cheap?
Let’s be clear. People don’t grab the market by selling 1 / 5 of the giant’s price and claiming the same quality. How can everything be analyzed as a low price? Imagine a scene: when you talk to your friend Amway white clay, you say, “don’t drink Budweiser today. I recommend you a cheaper one, which is good to drink.” the friend said, “OK, how much is it?” you said, “it’s cheap. It’s only 70% more expensive than Budweiser. Your friend won’t be full of question marks?”  ; When analyzing product problems, consumers are regarded as individuals slightly? Therefore, the so-called low price is definitely not the core factor driving white clay to be selected by consumers, which is an extremely normal or even high market pricing.
——”Social media communication?”   
More analysis mentioned “Youth / social media communication”, especially almost everyone mentioned the Youtube Video: a video of go virtual by well-known funny youtube and Trevor Wallace.
However, two essential problems have been ignored:
On the one hand, there are two most common mistakes in people’s derivation from the correlation of phenomena to causality: one is to mistakenly recognize the correlation as causality, and the other is to reverse the direction of causality. But today is not an introduction to logic 101, so we won’t discuss it in depth. What we want to say is that in this go virtual video, it is not so much the video that makes white claw popular; It should be said that white claw brought fire to this video.
Why do you say that? We know that comedy / talk show content creators focus on finding out what users resonate with when creating content. When Trevor Wallace was creating this content, the starting point was not to publicize White Claw, because the video was not an implanted advertisement of White Claw, but in fact, it was actually another placement advertisement of perfume brand. Why did Trevor Wallace choose to put the stem of white clay in it when creating an embedded advertisement of another brand, so as to focus on the resonance of users for white clay. So, it’s white clay that brought fire to this video, not white clay.
A corroboration is that in 2018, far before the video of go virtual appeared, white clay ranked 36th in the sales of spirits in the world; What is the concept of 36? In 2020, Diageo, the world’s largest spirits group, had only 6 of its 58 brands, and its sales volume entered the top 36. This is still based on the fact that most of these brands are distributed globally; White clay in 2018 is a brand that has just been established for 2 years.
On the other hand, the marketing strategy of virus transmission / social media / rejuvenation should have been the common sense of every consumer company and every marketer for a long time. It’s not 2011, it’s 2021. Will anyone think that social media communication / virus communication is a pioneering strategy? The last time someone seriously studied the strategy of virus transmission was at least 8 years ago. These things have long been one of the most basic basic standard configuration strategies that do not need to be discussed by every successful consumer goods company in the world? Isn’t there a lot of phenomenal marketing cases of go virtual that have reached the level of millions worldwide in the past five years? Can go virtual produce a company with sales of $3 billion? Can the success of a new brand be achieved only by completing the strategy of basic standard configuration level?
——”Convenient purchase? Party scene? “  
Even distribution in mainstream retail channels and meeting party / entertainment scenes have been regarded as the reasons for the success of white clay. We only have one question: don’t they all?
Isn’t it true that all wine brands in the world are meeting the entertainment party scene from the first day of birth?
Shouldn’t all wines be sold in the retail channel? Can the channel move forward to magically generate sales?
Yes, all of the above are indeed the product / Channel / marketing features of white clay; but if you put them together, they can only constitute one of the most mediocre products in the world. You can easily find 100000 products that meet the above features. According to these features, what you make must be an extremely mediocre product.
What are the core drivers of white clay’s success? Why do we say that white clay is a good business sample to understand what is the core of enterprise success? What is the most important decisive factor among all operating levers.
As we mentioned before, everything is composed of many different elements. Therefore, it is very important to understand what is the decisive factor responsible for the core communication.
Why is this extremely important? In many cases, just because any thing has many different elements, the original intention and cognition of an enterprise on a product during R & D can be different from that of consumers; the cognition of business analysis researchers on a product may also be different from that of consumers; because the thinking dimension Different degrees, you may see completely different aspects.
The only way to clarify what the core elements are is to think from the perspective of users and explore the random, irrational and impulsive motivation behind each consumption behavior; only from the user’s consumption behavior can we really define the core of the product. Consumers will not study your product technology, cost structure, artistic value and calculate functional efficiency Use the price and cost model… Just like that sentence: it doesn’t matter what you are. What matters is what users think you are when they look at you.
We reiterate our core concept once again: the only barrier for enterprises is the understanding of user value.
After our previous article on our views on the current new consumer market was issued, we caused a lot of discussion; (see: in-depth research: where is the “disease” of new consumption?); Many investors from front-line investment institutions and consumer enterprises we appreciate have expressed their recognition of our ideas and analysis, and many peers who study consumption like us: chief brand officer, sister Dao, growth black box, etc. told us that we spoke their minds. Of course, it has also caused a lot of controversy and we don’t think we really understand the voice.
In the process of communicating with the partners of black ant capital last week, I came up with a relatively better interpretation method. Here I borrow the concept of lever to enrich my previous theory:
We believe that the process of enterprise operation is a comprehensive presentation using different levers: capital lever, talent lever, marketing lever, technology lever, product lever, supply chain lever and so on. Among all operating levers, the most essential and core lever is “understanding of user value”.
On the one hand, the lever of user value understanding is the decisive factor, which determines what the nature of your business is. Determines the difference between the most critical cores of hundreds of similar products with extremely similar external functions on the shelf;
On the other hand, the understanding of user value is the bottom lever that can affect all other operating levers: it determines the efficiency of capital use; Determines the efficiency of marketing; Determines the efficiency of product R & D. A correct understanding of user value has a great plus effect on other operating levers.
Therefore, in the articles on new consumption, there is one kind of feedback we can’t understand, which is called “emphasizing the brand is theoretical; it is a castle in the air, it is inoperable, and it is the neglect of marketing methods”. The most absurd point of this view is that we think it is because we pay attention to user value and brand value, There is no way to pay attention to the part of marketing strategy. Are the two contradictory?; Or do you think if a person is an expert in user insight and brand building, he will be a person with poor marketing methods?
After making it clear that “understanding of user value” is the core driving force of success, let’s look at white clay. We believe that the core user insight of white clay’s success comes from:
In fact, most people in the world don’t like the taste of most wines on the market, including beer, red wine and spirits (except enthusiasts); For a long time, due to the particularity of the category of wine, its significance as “alcohol”, “social”, “cheer” and “emotional export” has far exceeded its significance as a beverage.
We all say that most consumer goods in the world are composed of functional and emotional parts, but for most categories, they are more functional than emotional: coke is first a refreshing and sweet beverage, followed by the representative of happiness; Muji is first a beautiful and comfortable home, followed by the representative of minimalism, etc. but in the field of wine Category is extremely rare. The significance of carrying social function has always greatly exceeded the significance of carrying beverage function.
Whether in the United States or China, there is a similar scene: when a person is a child, he always looks at the adults around him, TV and people in novels. When drinking, he is accompanied by scenes such as parties, celebrations and fun; when he can finally drink, the common reaction when drinking for the first time is “Why would anyone like this?” However, in the end, everyone still becomes the person he once didn’t understand and drinks wine on various occasions. Because the symbolic meaning of wine is far greater than that of drink, and drinking is rarely for taste, so it’s not so good to drink.
Therefore, the biggest core of hard seltzer’s success in attracting users is “beverage to wine”, just like when we analyzed Helens before : users finally know that wine can be as good as drinks. This is not the first time this selling point has worked. In the wine market, the Yellow tailed kangaroo has achieved unprecedented success by relying on the strategy of beverage red wine.
In 2001, in the first year of its establishment, the yellow tail kangaroo sold more than 500000 boxes in the United States; within four years of its establishment, it became the Australian wine with the highest sales volume in the United States; more than the sum of 2-5 sales. Today, the yellow tail wine is the Australian wine with the largest sales volume in the world, and has been ranked the top 1 of the global wine brand influence for three consecutive years this year. The reason why the yellow tail kangaroo is so successful The reason is that most traditional red wine users do not like the “advanced” flavor of red wine. Therefore, from the first day of its establishment, it abandoned most of the elements valued by traditional wine and vigorously improved the sweetness and fruit flavor. It positioned itself as a beverage grape wine and achieved unprecedented success.
As we said before, the most important value of positioning is not to teach you what category to create; What’s that? It tells us that the product positioning is not created by you, but to find the cognition that already exists in the user’s mind. When you find the cognition that the user already exists, the decision-making cost of persuading the user will be very low. Why do many new consumer enterprises feel that their products are really difficult to sell; Because your product is not a demand existing in the existing cognition of users, all purchase behaviors need to be realized through convince users, and the decision-making cost of persuading users is very high.
However, if we only come here, we only demonstrate that hard seltzer is the core of the success of this category; So why isn’t the most successful brand in the market the creator of this category spike seltzer? According to many people’s understanding of the theory of positioning, you are not a category creator, you have to create a subcategory; Why has white clay succeeded in realizing that it has been occupied by the dividend of category founders?
Because if we only look at the “beverage into wine”, it is only a product function; Only when “function” is combined with “person” can it be called a user insight. For spike seltzer, its users understand that beverage and wine drinking is a female demand; Its insight comes from seeing that women often order soda + wine in bars. But this insight is neither rare nor innovative; There are many women oriented wines on the market; However, for white clay, its users understand that beverage and alcoholic drinks are universal needs of men and women; And it may be even worse for men. Why? Because there are many drinks for women on the market; But there are few drinks for men.
There is a word in English called guilty pleasure; Some of them are translated into “evil pleasure” and some into “evil taste”, but they are not accurate. For example:

A very man, Secretary likes to hear Taylor Swift is guilty pleasure;

A strong independent woman, the thing that secret likes very girls is guilty pleasure;

A hard core environmentalist, secret likes heavy fuel consuming cars, which is guilty pleasure;

An elegant art lover, secret likes soap, and love movies are guilty pleasure;
To put it simply, these hobbies are essentially free of problems and are not evil tastes. If you change to another person with a different image, you don’t need feel guilty at all, it is a source of pleasure that you don’t want to be known by the outside world. A typical white male, if not gay but secretly likes to drink feminine drinks, is a typical guilty pleasure field King, and white clay found this huge user value and realized the catch-up and Surpassing of the latecomers. Since day 1, it has never considered hitting the female market, whether in product design or communication ideas. This is the best case we said before: “for similar products with very similar external functions, where is the difference of the most critical core”.
The core of white clay’s success is achieved through “make guild pleasure digit”. An important example of the above interpretation is that one of the most popular scenes of white clay is that it has deeply penetrated the brotherhood culture of American universities, and the popularity is very exaggerated.
Many analyses of white clay’s idea of entering the male market are talking about the nihilistic millennials’ increasing preference for sexlessness; what’s more strange is that traditional beer companies have no rules to please women, but simply package feminization, while white clay wisely chose neutral style – even feminization can’t please women, can feminization please?
It is only here that we have fully demonstrated why white clay has finally become the most successful one. It is because we have found the long-standing and unmet demand. It is because we create products that users have always wanted in their cognition, not empty, better / younger / healthier / low-cost products that users have no perception. That is why we call white clay W is a perfect business model: it tells us that among all operating levers, the understanding of user value is the core and the only fundamental:
Therefore, even if it is not the first brand in the category of hard seltzer, according to the theory of positioning, it has fallen to seize the user’s mind, and white clay is still the most successful one;
Therefore, even in the United States, calling “DTC” is the future of the interaction between consumer goods and users. When it is the most direct and effective, white clay’s achievements do not rely on DTC;
Therefore, even when the giants Budweiser / Coca Cola / Pepsi / Diageo end one after another, they smash R & D, marketing and channels; Budweiser even smashes the Super Bowl known as the American Spring Festival Gala; and has made more than three hard seltzer brands at one go, but its market share is still less than 1 / 5 of that of white clay;  
The low alcohol apprentices in China only saw the shell of white clay: bubbly, low alcohol, low calorie, fruity, low price and young wine; They have made a lot of products without soul and ideas: most of them are still talking about women, drinking, pleasing themselves, generation Z, health, youth, and all kinds of insight into “unpopular children”.
A group of Chinese low alcohol drinkers, think about it first. If users mention you in an “extremely life-oriented” scene, how do you want you to be mentioned? What value do you provide users.
In other words: if you can’t think clearly, how to give users a  ” The reason for buying “people’s words”; please don’t rush to the end and catch a “tuyere”.
Original title: case study | the unprecedentedly successful white clay and a local chicken feather Chinese low alcohol wine apprentices
Author: Jerry Hou; source: human centered business review (ID: human centered), reprint authorized. Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246);
join the community: Cherry (wechat: 15240428449) Fbic2022food aily daily food has joined hands with the world’s top commercial and industrial partners to create 0. With the theme, fbic2022food daily food has passed the three-day new consumption innovation test ground ✕ the stage of global innovative products ✕ the food Developer Conference ✕ the top product social circle, running through the upstream and downstream of the food industry chain, linking the whole scene of new consumption business, and taking another step towards the end of the new food era, Tell the future of China’s new food consumption once and for all, 360 ° presents brand ecology.
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