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“assassins” are just appearances.
“You say cheap ice cream is getting harder and harder to find. I don’t agree.”
Hearing the story that “ice cream assassins” are rampant and affordable ice cream is increasingly difficult to find, dealer Ma Yanlong quickly said this. His company has about 4000 retail outlets in the northeast, but among all retail outlets, less than 10% sell high-priced ice cream. “The ability of ordinary people to accept is very poor.”.
Most of the ice cream in the snack bar is still based on our common low-priced ice cream. Photographer / Li Xuexue
Not only in the northeast, but also in the southern market, which has stronger consumption capacity. When Ma Yanlong visited many cities in the south, he found that the shops mainly operated on the so-called “currency” in the market, that is, the medium and low-end conventional products.
Even in Shanghai, affordable ice cream is still the king. Boss Zheng’s shop is in a bustling business district near Lujiazui, the financial center. Here, the most popular and purchased ice cream is the ice cream with less than ten yuan, “the one with one yuan sells best”. The most expensive Zhong Xuegao and Baxi stayed in the corner of the freezer, and they could only sell about 10 pieces a day.
In real life, low-priced ice cream below 5 yuan still occupies the mainstream of ice cream. According to a survey data of the full micro number Laboratory of the cargo circle in 2020, the purchase rate of ice cream with purchase price of 1 yuan to 3 yuan in the snack bar is 90%, accounting for the highest proportion, and those with purchase price of less than 1 Yuan account for 67%. According to a statistical data of Nandu caiwan agency in July, the proportion of online and offline channels of ice cream with retail price below 5 yuan reached 64.5%. This seems to be quite different from the rampant theory of the disappearance of affordable ice cream.
In the narrative of the “ice cream assassins” one month ago, the public has played up the anxiety that “ice cream is becoming more and more expensive” and “there is no cheap ice cream”. “High profit rate of high-priced ice cream – low-priced ice cream is expelled from the freezer” seems to be the necessary logic when talking about the price rise of ice cream.
However, facts have proved that although high-priced ice cream is highly profitable, the most favorite of the snack bar is still low-priced ice cream.
The reason is simple: Although the high price ice cream has a high profit, it sells slowly.
Ma Yanlong said that the experience of most grocery store owners is that “products with more than three yuan can not be sold.”. The canteen has limited resources and stores, so it needs to choose relatively cheap and marketable products: green mood, casual and adorable – “no introduction, no promotion.” The gross profit of a single root is not necessarily high, but it is enough insurance.
Attacking convenience stores and disappearing grocery stores
Since most of the bosses still prefer cheap ice cream, in which scenes are the impression that “ice cream with less than five yuan is hard to find” constructed in our mind?
There are two key words: chain convenience stores and young people.
The origin of the topic of “ice cream Assassin” is xiaohongshu, and half of the “stabbed places” are convenience stores. The initial discussion group is mainly young people aged 18-28… It is not difficult to see that,
Until the “ice cream Assassin” stabbed the story. All of us find that the young people in 2022 are not very different from those in other times. It is separated from the scene carefully constructed by social media and falls into specific retail terminals. Most of the time, people choose to pick up the cheaper one.
In fact, even in Shanghai, mom and pop stores and small shops are the mainstream, but small shops will not appear in our attention circle. Sometimes, it is not necessarily that we really can’t find the affordable ice cream, but the new consumption scene is so impressive that it occupies most of the public opinion scenes that we have wiped out the affordable ice cream from our inherent impression.
It is not so much the price rise of ice cream as the rise and fall of the traditional mom and pop retail terminal and the convenience store retail terminal in people’s cognitive mind.
Why don’t convenience stores sell cheap ice cream?
With the temporary amnesia of the grocery store in our cognition, it is replaced by those fresh, interesting and relatively high-priced products displayed on the convenience stores and shelves.
Although the profit is high, such products are not so easy to sell.
In a core residential area of Xuhui, Shanghai, convenience stores and grocery stores face each other across the street corner. The grocery store is not small in area, facing the street on both sides, and three freezers are arranged in a row. From 7:00 to 10:00 in the evening is the best time for walking in summer. The freezer is constantly opened, and the adorable and green mood are taken out one by one. On the left side of the freezer, Menglong, Baxi and xujihuan are obviously more desolate. “Few people buy more than 8 pieces of ice cream”, the cashier is too busy to turn back.
There is also a freezer in the family convenience store diagonally opposite the grocery store. There are 24 kinds of ice cream in it, with an average unit price of 12.2 yuan.
A refrigerator in a family convenience store in Shanghai. Photographer / Li Xuexue
The clerk said that the $4.8 Hong Baolai is the best-selling product in the freezer and the cheapest ice cream in the store.
“The cheap ice cream sold so well across the street, why don’t you buy more cheap ones to improve the turnover rate?”
“We just buy according to the order”, the clerk’s reply was only a few words.
“Purchase according to order” means that compared with the pure manual purchase of the retail department, the selection of convenience stores has to go through more layers of long channels, and the number of chains, regions and brands involved is not the same level as that of the retail department. Every SKU of the convenience store is expanded under strict calculation.
The business logic of the canteen is simple enough: the low-priced products with small profits and quick sales account for the majority. While ensuring small profits and quick sales, buy an appropriate amount of high-priced ice cream to provide more profits. If the popularity of ice cream with more than 10 yuan is not so high, it may be considered unsafe and occupy the resources of the freezer.
The logic of the chain convenience store is completely different from that of the grocery store: behind the convenience store is a complete and complex modern retail system. Convenience stores need to fight against the refined management of shelves and the ultimate pursuit of floor efficiency
Consumers in the sinking market are not stingy. In the northeast, Maotai ice cream sells very well, but it is difficult to get the goods. A cup of ice cream for 99 yuan to 138 yuan usually sells up to 1581 cups. Ma Yanlong bought several batches from the outside on behalf of him. “I got several hundred boxes, but basically I didn’t get home.”
Maotai ice cream which has been fried to high price recently. Source: Taobao
However, the sales volume of high-end products distributed by Ma Yanlong in Harbin, the provincial capital, only accounts for 1 / 3 of the total sales volume. The main consumers of high-end products are mainly from prefecture level cities: “there are many rich people in prefecture level cities, and there are no local stores selling high-end products.” Young people in small towns are happy to buy high-priced ice cream, which is his impression of the sinking market.
It has long been the consensus of everyone to explore the rich ore in the sinking market. Low line markets and community stores have also become the main battlefields for convenience stores. In 2019, the proportion of community convenience stores was 30.4%; By 2020, this figure has increased to 52.7%.
Figure source: China Chain Management Association and KPMG: China convenience store development report in 2021
But in many cases, the dislocation between people and the field is inevitable.
Ma Yanlong’s stores are mainly located near relatively high-end residential areas, closer to the targeted customers. His shop mainly focuses on the active purchase of “people looking for goods”, so there are no “stabbed” customers. However, for most convenience stores that are located in the community, customers who insist on “buying a cheap ice cream to quench their thirst” often account for the majority. There are many potential consumers, but how to accurately find these consumers is a difficult problem.
If we say that the friction brought by location selection is an inevitable road for convenience stores in the process of sinking; In order to seize the market, the “mismatch” of the brand in choosing the terminal type is too radical.
When talking about Zhong Xuegao, some practitioners said, “no matter what kind of outlets are suitable for sale or not, Zhong Xuegao will put in freezers to promote products.” By making great efforts to make profits for the stores and increasing the display expenses and electricity subsidies for the end retailers, Zhong Xuegao can occupy a place in the freezer. As a result, no matter whether it was a convenience store or a small shop, they all crowded into Zhong Xuegao. The brand has been exposed enough and the market has expanded; But there are also more consumers who do not buy. Through deliberate and even some coercive methods, the “goods and people” will be backfired by both the terminal and the brand to some extent.
Convenience is one of the core meanings of convenience stores. There is a cruel saying: when you give up Zhong Xuegao in the downstairs convenience store for cheap ice cream one kilometer away, it means that you are not the target customer of the convenience store. People who want to buy will eventually buy it. If they don’t sell it to you, convenience stores can sell it to others. This story, in turn, illustrates the importance of accurate customer positioning.
Summer is coming to an end, and the story of high priced ice cream seems to have been scattered. A month ago, four out of five guests who accosted the owner of the snack bar would mention the story of “ice cream Assassin”; Now, most stores have
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