Few Chinese F&B brand conquered HK’s fussy eaters, but this start-up did

BY SILVI WRITER

 

Few food and beverage brand from the Chinese mainland had successfully tapped into the Hong Kong, which is widely considered the “Culinary Capital of Asia”.

But a beverage start-up from south China’s Guangdong province has managed to conquered Hong Kong’s local people, many of whom are fastidious about food and drink.

Heytea, known for its cheese topped tea drinks that people wait in line for hours to buy, has confirmed its plan to open its first store in Sha Tin as early as the end of this year.

This will save Hong Kong people, especially the younger generation, time and money, as now many of them travel across the border to Shenzhen, just for a sip of the tea.

It does not have celebrity endorsements or paid advertising, but Heytea has never lacked public exposure because its non-traditional tea drinks and long-queues are frequently discussed on social media platforms like Weibo and WeChat, complete with well composed photos of the drinks and shops posted by its Chinese millennial consumers.

Heytea will adopt similar marketing strategies for Hong Kong as its WeChat mini-app shows that nearly 10 percent of its customers in Shenzhen are from Hong Kong, and it believes they will help spread word of the brand to their families and friends, according to the South China Morning Post.

“I am trying to make tea-drinking cool among Chinese millennials,” said Nie Yunchen, 27-years-old and CEO of Shenzhen Meixixi Catering Management, which owns the Heytea brand.

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The mushrooming of such innovative tea-drink brands across China in recent years has greatly changed people’s perceptions about a product that traditionally was consumed by the older generation.

Total investment in Chinese tea brands last year exceeding 1.3 billion yuan. In April 2018 Heytea announced it had raised 400-million yuan in second round financing, following an earlier round of 100 million yuan in 2016.

“Heytea aims to open as many stores overseas as Starbucks [has on the mainland] as I am confident of our product quality and prices,” Nie said.

The Seattle coffee chain announced in May plans to build nearly 3,000 new stores in mainland China over the next few years. It’s aiming to almost double its number of coffee shops in the world’s second largest economy, from 3,300 at the moment to 6,000 before the end of 2022.

Heytea has not more than 100 outlets across the Chinese mainland. Its first store opened in 2012.

 

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