“runs counter to Baicao flavor, which is regarded by Cai Hongliang as a” correction “when starting a new business, making it less detours in the process of expanding zihi pot.
if he had not been informed in advance, he would never have thought that this humble man wearing black framed glasses and worn down jacket was the founder of a company valued at more than $1.5 billion.
mentioned his name Cai Hongliang, perhaps many people are not familiar with it; But when it comes to the brands “baicaowei” and “zihi pot” he founded, they are familiar now, even if they are not household names.
Cai Hongliang had a dream of “opening a shop” as a boss since he was a child. Perhaps because of his early working experience in a food factory, he chose the snack track for the first time, seized the consumer group of college students, and opened a convenience store specializing in small snacks – baicaowei. With its cheap price, rich varieties and superior location, Cai Hongliang made more than 200000 yuan in two months after opening the store and successfully won the “first pot of gold” in life. After
, he successively opened branches in Colleges and universities across the country. In just four years, he made Baicao into a chain enterprise with more than 140 stores and an annual turnover of 150 million.
in the years when the wave of mobile Internet surged, Cai Hongliang was busy transforming online, learning operation knowledge and embracing e-commerce in an all-round way; In order to transform the “lower cost” into online marketing, baicaowei could not make ends meet in the first few years, and it was not until 2015 that baicaowei finally realized initial profit. Not long after
, the Zhejiang man made an unexpected decision to sell baicaowei company to haoxiangyou Jujube Industry Co., Ltd. for 960 million yuan, and he himself announced “closed” for three years.
in 2018, Cai Hongliang returned with a high profile with the newly established self heating hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot brand “self hi pot”, shouting the slogan of “real hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot in self heating hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot industry”. This time, he fully absorbed the entrepreneurial experience of the past, established e-commerce channels early, started online and gradually developed offline. He first built a brand and then built his own factory. The development path of
“running counter to Baicao flavor” is also regarded by Cai Hongliang as a “correction” when starting a new business, which makes it less detours in the process of expanding the self hi pot.
“that’s my university. Today’s zihi pot is my work.” Compared with the two startups, Cai Hongliang is obviously more satisfied with the current “works” and regards zihi pot as a report of his long-term understanding and learning of the catering industry. After entering the market, zihi pot quickly “planted grass” on the microblog through cooperation with stars such as Lin Xinxun, Hua Chenyu, Xie Na and Na Ying; In addition, Chen stars, Ouyang Nana, Bai Bing, Wang Yaoqing and other stars were photographed on the tiktok to eat the video, and successfully labeled themselves “half entertainment circles are eating”. Under the momentum of this wave of stars, zihi pot quickly opened the market, and its sales exceeded 100 million yuan in only three quarters.
in 2019, zihi pot broke through the limitation of single category and launched new SKUs such as self heating rice, self heating flour porridge and brewing flour; After the initial completion of the product matrix, the sales volume of hi pot has also risen rapidly, and the sales volume has exceeded 1 billion yuan by 2020; The following year (2021), the company took advantage of the victory and launched the sub brand “picture” of quick boiled noodles series and the sub brand “Stinky snail” of Luoshi powder, realizing the iteration of “produced by zihi pot”.
brand list of zihi pot group
2021 is the year of zihi pot’s channel organization and supply chain construction. Cai Hongliang revealed to all-weather technology that the company has invested more than 2 billion yuan with the government to establish 15 factories, realizing self construction from prefabricated main ingredients, packaging materials to product assembly; At the same time, the product sales test was conducted for offline channels through cooperation with suppliers and self built push team.
in CAI Hongliang’s view, the construction of supply chain factory can be regarded as the biggest “gamble” since its establishment. With so much capital, equipment and personnel invested, once the project is delayed, the result can not be predicted. Fortunately, this gamble has begun to bear fruit. After crossing a mountain, zihi pot has more levels to pass.
, which is still in the growth stage, not only gathers a number of offline hotpot catering brands such as Dezhuang, Haidilao, Xiaolongkan and Dalong, but also Internet Rookies of vertical tracks such as Mo Xiaoxian and Shiren. Even traditional snack enterprises such as three squirrels, liangpin shop and Weilong want to take a share, and the space is becoming more and more crowded.
zihi pot, which is in the first tier, not only wants to keep the original market advantage, but also plans to develop in depth, improve the product matrix and expand user coverage.
2022 is the year of channel development since hi pot, and “sinking” and “Popularization” have become the key words of enterprise development. How will the company develop the sinking market? How to deal with the difficult external environment and fierce market competition? What is the ultimate goal?
for a series of questions, we had a dialogue with CAI Hongliang, founder of zihi pot.
the following is the main content of the dialogue (edited and sorted by all-weather science and Technology):
Cai Hongliang: go back to individual consumers and make cost-effective decisions. Since we want to be the “five meals a day” of ordinary people, we have to consider the Engel coefficient. Whether the products consumed from hi pot can reduce the whole cost of living of consumers and improve the dining quality of consumers.
Q: what is the key to the success of zihi pot?
Cai Hongliang: the key point is that consumers have changed and become more picky. They should eat well and be more convenient. If there are so many self heating food brands, why did zihi pot come out? I can say that at least my resume is different from that of other founders. I have worked as an equipment engineer in a foreign-funded enterprise for 8 years, traveled to nearly 1000 factories and nearly 1000 vegetable markets in China, visited more than 20 factories in Europe, the United States and Japan, and had 10 years of offline and online experience, There is still a certain sense of smell in the grasp of market categories or future product trends.
Q: where does your sense of smell come from?
Cai Hongliang: past experience. (I) relatively unrestricted. I can see some phenomenal cases and am good at summarizing.
Q: are you a person who likes summarizing very much?
Cai Hongliang: I generally like them to play. I read it on the side. After understanding it, I began to make strategies.
for example, why is this thing on fire? Why does a brand of milk tea develop better and better? I will look at the “cause” behind these problems.
Q: what phenomenal brands, products or cases have been used for reference since the development of hi pot?
Cai Hongliang: hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot originally belongs to social catering, which is usually a catering category for many people to eat together. However, there are some Chinese herbal medicines in the hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot bottom, which can dehumidify, strengthen the stomach, regulate qi, replenish qi and make people feel comfortable to eat. In fact, a person also wants to eat and is addicted. We wonder why a person can’t eat hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot? So there is self heating hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot. The logic of cooking rice is the same. We still need to summarize some phenomenal applications that return to human application. In terms of channels, we learn from traditional brands. Including the logic of how to distribute, how to set up a team and so on. Traditional enterprises do well. We just need to learn directly.
brand or return to positioning theory. A new product needs a new sub category and sub brand to crowd out the old products or subdivide them. For example, the picture brand we launched is actually quick boiled noodles, which is an upgrade of vermicelli.
Q: do consumers really need these upgrades?
Cai Hongliang: of course. As you get older, you will feel uncomfortable eating instant noodles with traditional fried and complex ingredients. As instant noodles, convenience is an inevitable attribute. What we consider is how to make it healthier and more family, rather than fast food as before. We also need to find ways to make it catering.
Cai Hongliang: the first step is to characterize the product as high-end. In the selection of raw materials and packaging materials, the best ones are used to separate the things that consumers can touch with taste, smell, vision and other senses from other home areas to create uniqueness.
for example, our packaging adopts aluminum foil box, which makes consumers feel safe at a glance and forms a brand mind. The second step is to build brand awareness when the product power is good enough.
at first, we found many stars to break through the user circle for different fans every year; From star microblogging, star participating in TV dramas, to variety shows and games, expand step by step, and gradually change from a niche “online popular brand” to a “Changhong brand” recognized by the public.
the exclusive title sponsorship of zihi pot to broadcast the variety show “the unknown table” in 2020
Q: in this set of marketing ideas, what are the requirements whether from the perspective of star groups or the choice of variety shows and games?
Cai Hongliang: today’s consumers are essentially stratified and have different preferences. For example, consumers who watch dramas, movies and games, although there is some overlap, more will not cross.
our idea is to constantly “expand the circle”. Now even the elderly are beginning to accept self hi pot. Core users “tear” at both ends from the age of 20 to 25, which may occupy the group of primary school students downward, and the upward retired elderly also eat their own pot.
Q: is this brand building idea formed before the establishment of the brand or gradually improved with the development of the brand?
Cai Hongliang: it is essentially combined with the budget and cannot overdraw too early. Over the past few years, the cumulative advertising investment has reached more than 400 million. In the first year, it may be 60 million, later it will become 40 million, and then it will become 150 million and 100 million. We will still judge based on the overall environment every year.
for example, invest more in variety shows in 2020. In previous years, the price of variety show publicity was relatively expensive, but in 2020, due to the epidemic, the price of variety show plunged, and many businesses would not invest in it. At this time, we “picked up the leak” and invested in variety show. In that year, at least six variety shows were fully advertised. Because young people can’t get out, they stay at home and watch three screens (mobile phone screen, TV screen and computer screen), the arrival rate of advertising has also increased, and the overall cost has fallen sharply. The wave of
directly increased our voice. Sometimes we still have to bet if we are sure.
Q: how much will zihi pot spend on advertising in 2020?
Cai Hongliang: more than two hundred million.
Q: is it all variety input?
Cai Hongliang: there are variety shows and TV dramas, because TV dramas are one year ahead of schedule (investment attraction).
Q: many brands are now more willing to advertise on social media, because users stay on those platforms for a long time and are farther and farther away from the large screen. Why is zihi pot more willing to invest so much in traditional advertising channels?
Cai Hongliang: consumer brands are essentially mass brands. What is a popular brand? That is, people of any age can see you. At this time, the brand will become a public brand.
if you advertise in Xiaohong book, you may be seen by young female consumers aged 20-25, but it is also a niche brand. In fact, it is difficult to expand the circle.
Q: if consumer brands want to eventually become public brands, they must return to traditional advertising channels?
Cai Hongliang: it involves the arrival rate. For example, if a niche brand is launched in station B, it may be completed when 20-30 million users arrive; When we want to make a popular brand, the arrival rate of these single platforms is often not enough.
in fact, the risk of advertising today is also great. People do not necessarily watch TV through these traditional channels. Therefore, we will divide the drama into many kinds according to different groups. For example, it is logical to invest in embarrassing mother in 2020, which is to attract users of the Spring Festival file.
Q: as the popularity of zihi pot gradually opens, will advertising investment decrease in 2022 or in the next few years?
Cai Hongliang: return to normal. Strive for a certain amount of exposure, but will not “bet” as in 2020, because there are few such opportunities.
Q: do you think zihi pot has some luck to run out, or is it lucky in 2020?
Cai Hongliang: from the way of running out (it’s like this). Self heating food is essentially a trend category. If we don’t do so, we can run out, but we have accelerated its speed. For example, during the epidemic in Wuhan, zihi pot donated 350000 barrels of products, and it was the first one delivered on the first day of the lunar new year. All of a sudden, the Hubei market opened.
2022 key words: sinking and popularization
Cai Hongliang: the initial core target users are white-collar workers and college students who have just entered the workplace. They hope to be popularized in the future. In the early stage of
, the public has been educated by self heating food. The next step is to improve the efficiency and cost performance of products.
after the completion of all factories, the degree of automation has been greatly improved, which means that we can choose more and better ingredients with lower labor costs.
when choosing a meal, consumers will consider whether takeout is more appropriate or self hi pot is more appropriate. Slowly self heating food may become more and more daily and be consumed as a dinner.
Q: there is a plan to sink the market layout from hi pot in 2022. Can you give us a specific introduction on which direction it will develop?
Cai Hongliang: online is pinduoduo. Offline wife and husband store is a very potential market.
for the husband and wife shop, we must adopt the dealer system. Last year, we also tested about 120000 stores that can make terminals directly and the system can record sales.
Q: is this reached by zihi pot through the dealer or developed by itself?
Cai Hongliang: combination of the two.
Q: what is the effect of the early test in the sinking market?
Cai Hongliang: the effect is quite good, especially the feedback on the concept of the whole category of zihi pot.
Q: friends and businessmen have first cut into the sinking market and achieved good results. Will there be some difficulties in follow-up since hi pot?
Cai Hongliang: No. Because of our high brand awareness and high consumer acceptance.
last year, we launched the activity of “buy one and get two” in the sinking market, and also set up an offline team to improve the efficiency of the supply chain. The remaining dynamic sales will be completed by consumers themselves.
ask: “buy one and get two” this kind of playing method similar to price war will continue to advance in the sinking market in the future?
Cai Hongliang: This is not a price war.
for example, no matter the taste, materials and raw materials of self heating hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot, other brands can’t compare with us; There are also the vast majority of white cards, which consumers will never eat again after eating, which will do great harm to self heating products. We hope to go out and let more people restore their confidence in this category.
Q: will the “buy one, get two” strategy continue in the sinking market?
Cai Hongliang: it must last. Because we have cultivated more new products when doing the activity of “buy one and get two”. For example, buying a self heating hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot and sending a brewing product virtually opens up a new category of market.
in 2022, we hope to form more and more offline teams and cooperate with more dealers to make the scale of dealers reach about 10000, covering the whole country; We will adhere to the playing method of product matrix. Category A does not make money, and category B can make money.
essentially, any (fast food) category needs consumption upgrading. The logic of consumption upgrading is very simple, that is, all content upgrading and brand upgrading. Today’s consumers have higher and higher standards for food health and material quality. When a new category appears and tries well, consumers will gradually get rid of the previous products.
what we do is to upgrade consumption. Don’t look at the fourth and fifth tier cities. They are still upgrading consumption, just to see if there are more novel products to replace.
Q: I just mentioned that it is planned that there will be 10000 dealers in 2022. What will happen to ziheguo’s own local push team?
Cai Hongliang: you can see how many Yuanqi forest has today. Slowly, our two families may become more and more alike.
Q: what do you mean?
Cai Hongliang: the way and method of the whole operation.
Q: you know Mr. Tang very well, don’t you?
Cai Hongliang: not familiar. May be a direct competitor in the future, but more is to learn from them.
Q: Tang is always a gambler. What do you think of this gambling psychology?
Cai Hongliang: I don’t watch it because I bet myself.
Q: do entrepreneurs need to gamble?
Cai Hongliang: Yes. How can you do what you aim at without gambling? It may be difficult not to gamble, but there are few wins. The goal of
is to copy all offline meals to online
. Is “Internet snacks” a fake outlet?
Cai Hongliang: I can’t say that. It’s important to have more people eat it. In this market, bad money may drive out good money. As for the self hi pot, We always insist that we are “Liangcoin. I have confidence in my own products.
everyone can have their own views, but it is very important whether an enterprise is doing practical things. Before
, McDonald’s and KFC may only serve petty bourgeoisie, but today they must serve ordinary people. We can’t deny the convenience brought by self heating food; this category can’t go back, it won’t disappear, it will only Get bigger.
Q: what is your plan for the future of zihi pot?
Cai Hongliang: since there are enough sub brands of zihi pot, it is not easy to bring them up from the commercial level.
generally speaking, what we want to do is to make Chinese food go to the world. Based on the construction of standardized supply chain, zihi pot may be the brand with the most opportunity to go global.
Q: is Master Kang the final target company of zihi pot?
Cai Hongliang: from another point of view, self heating food must be prosperous in the next 5-10 years. It is definitely not a problem to look at it today; We need to take a long-term view. What we don’t take a long-term view is wrong.
I like to see farther, but I don’t like to look at the present. If we look at the supply chain, how much energy and capital do 15 factories need to invest? Who is willing? But three or five years later, I rely on them to compete. I like what I’m doing today can make me feel “too relaxed” three years later, rather than solving the immediate problems today. I often solve the problems three years later today.
Q: what is your idea of zihi pot in three or five years?
Cai Hongliang: in the field of new catering, we can copy all offline meals and make them into retail products. What we do today is to liberate consumers from eating, free from scene restrictions and conditions, and save more time to do what they love to do.
our ability has become stronger and stronger. It is not just a meal, but a delicious meal with high cost performance.
Q: what are the difficulties in moving offline catering to online?
Cai Hongliang: standardization requires that each pot tastes the same.
at present, the most standardized food is hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot. As long as a bag of bottom material is in it, the taste is all in it. We also need to do, for example, standardize the cooking, and return to the preservation technology. This is the most difficult thing in this field.
Q: what is the current level of zihi pot’s ability in this area?
Cai Hongliang: we must be the head. There is only 10% loss between the taste of many products sterilized at 121 ℃ and the taste of stir fry.
Q: how many people are there in the company’s R & D team?
Cai Hongliang: product R & D and equipment R & D add up to about 30 people. I am the most unrestrained one.
Q: will the company go public in the future?
Cai Hongliang: listing is inevitable because there have been so many rounds of financing.
Q: when is it expected?
Cai Hongliang: I don’t know.
from the perspective of performance, we haven’t arrived yet; However, from the perspective of time, it has been five years from 2018 to 2022, so we should plan.
Cai Hongliang: you have to run out, not whether you can run out.
because all the problems we found during the test will be adjusted in the next step. In fact, what we do every day is to innovate and improve constantly.
must be brewing in this market, and this market will be larger than the self heating market. Why don’t I do it? However, self heating food is a new category and brand, so I must seize the self heating track and then develop more brands and categories.
Q: according to this idea, is it difficult for zihi pot to develop. It not only has a heavy model, but also needs to break consumers’ inherent concept of fast food?
Cai Hongliang: in fact, it’s not a problem of concept, or a problem of returning to products, that is, cost performance.
5 yuan fast food products are affordable to consumers. How do you choose today? One is fried, the other is non fried, the other is fast food flavor, and the other is home flavor? How do you choose tomorrow? How do you choose the day after tomorrow?
so the opportunities are actually given to you. I don’t think there is no opportunity to make consumer goods, but there should be a foundation before there is an opportunity.
for example, what do you do if someone keeps up with you after selling a thing? In essence, my logic is that it doesn’t matter if you follow up. I’ve been on the second product.
which restaurant dares to open for decades today? No, it may end in a few months. Why? Because all dishes age.
if you know the consumer market in Japan, you will know what to do in the Chinese market in the future. Even Coca Cola in Japan is divided into cities. What you see in Osaka is called Osaka cola; What you see in Tokyo is called Tokyo coke; The products seen on the shelves this month will never be seen again next month. This is how
will do business in the future. Iterate and leave several classics.
Q: what will it be like after higuo iterates over itself?
Cai Hongliang: I think it will only get bigger and bigger. Because in self iteration, they are actually eating other people’s share. For example, the market share of Master Kang’s instant noodles has gone down, but from the perspective of the group, the market share of beverage is higher than that of instant noodles, because there are too many substitutes in the instant noodles track.
in the case of “tear”, we pay attention to “the East is not bright, the west is bright”, that is, do not turn offline, turn online, and turn offline after online, with full flexibility.
what our generation (new consumer brands) see is how to play through all channels. The Jianghu status of the inherent channels of old brands, including the supply chain, is actually solidified and can not be separated.
once the old brand wants to toss, it means that everyone has to be very busy, but it is not to the extent that it does not make money and needs to reform with the greatest efforts.
he is the defender and I am the attacker. Will everyone act the same?
the logic of the defending side is different from that of the attacking side. One pays attention to net profit and the other does not pay attention to net profit. When we attack, we rush without profit; In defense, traditional brands will not abandon the profit attack. You want to run, but you have both advantages and constraints.
Q: zihi hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot has occupied a large market share in the field of self heating hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot. In the future, more and more brands may enter (and become the “defender” at that time)?
Cai Hongliang: I don’t think so. Instead, more and more brands need to be eliminated. Before
, we mainly focused on the supply chain and brand, but we haven’t focused on the channel side. Now that the factory has been built and the brand has been built, the rest is to build channels, so the energy is relatively concentrated.
returning to this logic is equivalent to driving the development of the national market through self heating hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot categories, but it does not mean that the market can be divided by everyone, but will become more and more focused. Just like the “battle of Kangtong” in those years, the two families died almost in a dozen.
Cai Hongliang: I can only say that past experience accounts for at least 80% of the influencing factors of this project. The wrong things I did before have been fully corrected here.
for example, baicaowei started by selling goods, not by brand, but when I was making zihi pot, I decided to start by brand. The two ways of thinking are different, and our online traffic is completely different.
back to me, I have rich experience; In this entrepreneurial project, although some money was spent, at least there were few detours.
Q: are you more satisfied with the creation of zihi pot than when baicaowei was founded?
Cai Hongliang: sure. That’s my university. Today’s zihi pot is my work.
Q: will it be a pity to sell baicaowei?
Cai Hongliang: there is no eternal business. Business is more like scientific and technological products, and the iteration speed is very fast. I like to do the second, third and fourth curves of life and like to create; I like to attack rather than defend. I will hand over the “rivers and mountains” when guarding the rivers and mountains. I like playing the rivers and mountains very much.
Q: does it mean that you may hand over the self hi pot to professional managers in the near future and then create a new brand?
Cai Hongliang: re creation is impossible, but it will hatch in zihi pot. The company has also trained some young people. I think they have the ability to start shaping their life and future.
Q: Why did you start zihi pot from Baicao a few years ago, but now you don’t want to start a business?
Cai Hongliang: that’s enough.
Q: have you met your expectations?
Cai Hongliang: Yes.
is very simple. For Baicao flavor and some previous projects, generally, when 70%, that is, to the waist position, I will basically withdraw; But zihi pot is my whole life. When I get old, my daily work here is different from baicaowei. I let young people do it here, but I can grasp the strategy by myself.
Q: why is there such a difference?
Cai Hongliang: very realistic. Because I haven’t experienced it before, I want to experience it; I have experienced many new projects before, and it may be easier for bystanders to see clearly. I’m not a possessive person, just look at the success rate of things.
Q: what kind of personality are you?
Cai Hongliang: maybe ordinary people don’t like the person who loves and hates.
Q: what is the point of love and hate?
Cai Hongliang: my starting points are all good, but people may not be willing to accept behaviors that are not considerate (in their own cognition).
Q: what is the biggest bet you have made in your entrepreneurial career?
Cai Hongliang: supply chain construction of zihi pot. With so many equipment and so many people, is it gambling? Maybe it’s not good. It hasn’t been put into operation for one or two years. What if it’s delayed?
Q: are you a person who likes gambling very much?
Cai Hongliang: I don’t know how to play poker or mahjong, and I don’t know the rules.
I don’t spend much everyday, which can be understood as a person who can’t shop on the Internet. In this case, I think doing business is spending money with value.
this understanding may be quite different. Many people will think that doing business is making money, but I think it is spending money.
Q: are you satisfied with your current entrepreneurial achievements?
Cai Hongliang: it may be necessary to look at it in stages. When I have a lot of information or ability under my control, I think entrepreneurship will not be painful and will have a sense of pleasure; But when you exceed your ability, you sometimes feel how difficult it is. I will have the side of seeking stimulation. When I encounter difficulties, I swear to break through this matter.
Q: do you enjoy this exciting feeling?
Cai Hongliang: Yes, I like to break through. Maybe many people like playing games and operating in the virtual world. I like to break through in the real world.
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