China Food

After five years of successful IPO, the company turned the salad shop into a technology company

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why can consumers and investors like a bowl of plain salad so much?
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Author: Wang Wang

Source: silicon rabbit race (ID: sv_race)

Light food has been hard lately.
In the past two years since the outbreak of the epidemic, catering enterprises have been greatly impacted. Unexpectedly, the new elements of the “ancestor” light food brand have also been dragged down. As a chain enterprise that has stood for 19 years and successfully survived the SARS epidemic, it has to end in the winter of 2021 because its business model is becoming more and more difficult to obtain competitiveness in today’s market. Coincidentally, Wagas, also a veteran light food brand, has also heard the news of seeking acquisition. Although the official statement is untrue, it is difficult to cover up the fact that its operation is not so “booming”.
The two light food brands once fascinated by urban beauty are now in a sad situation. People can’t help asking: can you make a good business selling salads?
Recalling the “light food fever” in the Chinese market, it was five or six years ago. Since 2016, light food salad has received keen attention from capital. Rice salad invested by Zhenge fund, sweetheart rock salad invested by Sequoia China and lecherous salad invested by IDG have sprung up. In that year, the order growth of light food salad takeout was as high as 16 times over the same period, more than 5 times that of takeout market.
However, only two or three years later, the tide of closing stores swept through, and many light food salad brands supported by the above-mentioned well-known funds were submerged in the waves of history. Then, although milk tea, noodles and coffee once again raised the attention of the whole catering industry, light food did not usher in the next scenic moment.
Looking to the other side of the Pacific Ocean, in this more red sea light food market, a chain listed company ran out this year. Why can consumers and investors like a bowl of plain salad so much?
In November, sweetgreen, which has been established for five years, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange
make light food into light luxury. Why should consumers pay?
Ordering a salad or light food bowl in sweetgreen costs about $9 to $15. At this price, you can buy about 2-3 McDonald’s packages, which is slightly higher than other light food brands. Not only consumers who are not familiar with sweetgreen, but also the media can’t help asking: why spend so much money on grass? In this regard, sweetgreen and brand fans who are familiar with this have to answer in a secret way: This is a belief, you don’t understand.
When it comes to “eating grass”, many people’s first reaction is health and their second reaction is anti humanity. The business of “eating grass” is also faced with these two problems. A healthy low calorie light food or salad is not delicious enough in most cases. No matter how you cook it (of course, there is not much room for cooking), the taste is certainly not as good as hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot milk tea, so don’t think about satisfying your appetite when you eat light food.
This nature of “killing people’s desire” makes the market for light salad relatively small – even in European and American countries where salad originated and light food penetration rate is very high, ordinary people still eat pizza, pasta and hamburgers. However, if the proportion of salt, sugar and oil is increased in order to be delicious, it will be criticized as “unhealthy”. Both at home and abroad, many media have exposed the fact that light food has higher calories than fast food.
A week’s food for an American family source: time
Delicious is not healthy, health is not delicious. From the perspective of food itself, no light food salad brand can well solve this contradiction. If you add “expensive”, it is even more unreasonable.
In order to do a good job in this business that makes people “spend money and suffer”, sweetgreen has made great efforts in “faith”.
turn the salad shop into a technology company
Like all light food brands, health and safety is sweetgreen’s commitment to consumers, and labeling calories and nutrients is a standard action. In order to make this commitment more real and solemn, sweetgreen introduced the power of technology.
Sweetgreen has 140 offline stores in the United States, not counting the salads selected by consumers, there are more than 20 kinds of fixed dishes, but more than 200 suppliers directly provide food materials. This is because sweetgreen only cooperates with local farms to select local food materials and does not purchase off-season crops in order to ensure the freshness of food materials and avoid long-term cold chain transportation and storage, except for a few raw materials such as oil and rice. In other words, whenever consumers place an order in sweetgreen, the menu they see is limited by season and region.
Sweetgreen even found a seed company to customize and cultivate a new pumpkin variety | source: row7
Sweetgreen will also indicate on the notice board of the store that the lettuce comes from the old William’s farm outside the city and the chicken comes from the little Tom’s chicken house in the village, so that consumers can understand (although consumers may not know these farms). This alone is not enough. Sweetgreen cooperates with a blockchain company to put every lettuce and tomato on the chain and establish an electronic resume for them.
In this way, sweetgreen can trace the planting, transportation and storage of food materials in the whole process, which not only ensures food safety, but also helps consumers make personalized recommendations. For example, if a customer is satisfied with the carrots in a bowl of salad, sweetgreen can recommend the customer to try again when the supplier sells the next batch of carrots of the same variety in the store. Of course, these data also enable sweetgreen to control the supply chain more flexibly. When and how much to order can be estimated through the data to avoid food material consumption.
Sweetgreen’s cooperative farmer and sensors in his field | source: sweetgreen
what I eat is not grass, but a sense of responsibility to protect the earth
Despite the strict selection of ingredients, sweetgreen still didn’t escape the dilemma of light food: it’s not delicious. Some media and consumers commented that sweetgreen’s delicious degree is not excellent among similar light food brands. Unable to win by menu, sweetgreen starts with spirit and occupies the hearts of consumers. This is not only due to the energetic and enthusiastic service of the store staff and the popular video on tiktok. Sweetgreen wants to be more competitive.
Sweetgreen’s goal is to be the next generation of fast food for young people. Therefore, sweetgreen has also been trying to show a personalized young life attitude.
Every once in a while, sweetgreen and artists will jointly launch the sweetgreen seasonal sounds music collection for consumers to listen to. Artists who have cooperated include FANA hues, noodles, Faye Webster, Haim, etc. they are cool girls with personality. While eating fresh fruits and vegetables of the season and listening to niche music with a strong sense of season, isn’t this lifestyle worth posting ten or eight social media messages?
In June this year, sweetgreen officially announced her identity as a brand ambassador and launched the Osaka Zhimei package after Japanese athlete Osaka Zhimei won the US Open and Australian Open Championships in succession. The young, healthy, avant-garde and diversified image represented by Naomi Osaka is what sweetgreen calls the “next generation”. In sweetgreen’s IPO roadshow, the endorsement was even compared with the cooperation between Michael Jordan and McDonald’s.
Naomi Osaka is also sweetgreen’s youngest investor | source: sweetgreen
Sweetgreen is a pioneer in the topic of social responsibility concerned by young people. The catering industry is a major carbon emitter. Sweetgreen boldly promises to achieve carbon neutrality in 2027. In order to reduce their own carbon emissions, sweetgreen will investigate the carbon emission level of suppliers as the basis for procurement decisions; Use more fruits and vegetables and less animal products in menu design, because animal husbandry will produce a lot of carbon emissions; The building materials, energy, equipment and supplies of the store shall also be as environmentally friendly as possible.
From 2019, sweetgreen began to record its carbon footprint. Up to now, the carbon dioxide emitted by sweetgreen for every $1 revenue has been lower than the average level of the catering industry in the United States. At the same time, sweetgreen is also actively promoting sustainable lifestyles in the community. For consumers, is spending in sweetgreen just buying salad? No, you bought the future of the earth! What’s the big deal of spending $15 on such an important thing?
The use of degradable tableware is purely basic | source: sweetgreen
has a long way to go since its launch
Since its inception, sweetgreen has been favored by investors because of its halo of technology and sustainability. It has successively been listed in the annual most innovative food enterprises list of fast company magazine in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020. In 2019, sweetgreen was also selected in the top 50 enterprises list and ranked No. 6, surpassing giant technology companies such as Alibaba and apple.
On the first day of listing, sweetgreen’s share price rose 76.8%, but it has been falling continuously for more than a month. What investors are most worried about is its profitability.
Three young founders | source: the New York Times
On the one hand, sweetgreen should compete not only with other light salads, but also with other categories of catering. Although it is favored by young white-collar workers and fitness people, how far can light salads go under the label of “anti humanity”?
On the other hand, sweetgreen’s operation investment is quite high, not only the cost of site selection and decoration is higher, but also the non centralized supply chain is a considerable burden. However, if the strategy is changed for profit, sweetgreen without these will also lose its brand uniqueness.
The future also depends on whether sweetgreen can attract more consumers to “generate electricity with love” for the dream of a sustainable earth.
reference material:
[1] Sweetgreen official website
[2]Time: Hungry Planet – What The World Eats
[3]Hungry Planet: What The World Eats
Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246);
Join the community: Cherry (micro signal: 15240428449).

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The registration channel for the fourth Isee global food innovation award has been opened. Launched by Foodaily daily food in 2018, the iSEE Innovation Award excavates and commends the global product / brand / technology / enterprise / personas innovation model from the perspective of business ecology. Through media campaigns, innovative search and social experience marketing activities, it shows the innovation to industry, business and consumers, and shows China’s innovation to the world, and promotes the integration of overseas and local innovation. Empowering China’s new consumption. There is not only competition, but also content, communication, experience and social networking. We look forward to the participation of every food enterprise! (click the picture to view the detailed introduction)

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