Com­pe­ti­tion in­ten­si­fies with new play­ers jostling for mar­ket

China Daily (Canada) - - HOLIDAY - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s tea drink­ing mar­ket is es­ti­mated to be around 40 to 50 bil­lion yuan ($5.81 to 7.27 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to CITIC Se­cu­ri­ties. Ac­cord­ing to China Tea Mar­ket­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, more than 500 mil­lion con­sumers con­sumed 1.9 mil­lion tons of tea leaves in 2017. As the world’s largest pro­ducer and con­sumer of tea, China is see­ing a new trend of tea, brewed by both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional play­ers, look­ing to steal young peo­ple from the bev­er­age’s long-stand­ing en­emy – cof­fee.

Miao Qin has been a fa­mil­iar name in China’s food and bev­er­age in­dus­try way be­fore he started inWE Tea. As the for­mer gen­eral man­ager of McDon­ald’s China, Miao was the youngest ex­ec­u­tive of the fast food chain in China be­fore leav­ing the com­pany in 2008 and the first Chi­nese to take the helm.

In 2016, a year af­ter Miao cre­ated inWE Tea, the brand re­ceived gen­er­ous fund­ing from Liu Qiang­dong, founder of e-com­merce giant JD and a MBA class­mate of Miao. The 500-mil­lion-yuan in­vest­ment has helped the brand to be the fastest ris­ing player in the in­dus­try – open­ing 30 stores within less than one year. With the ex­pe­ri­ence of in­tro­duc­ing McCafe to China, Miao re­mains con­fi­dent that the brand will not only have 300 out­lets across the coun­try in three years, but will also be mush­room­ing glob­ally like McDon­ald’s does in China.

As the founder of tea bev­er­age chain Oritea, Lin Mingjuan is dubbed as “cha san dai”, or a third­gen­er­a­tion tea­maker. Hav­ing worked as a TV re­porter, a real es­tate agent, and an ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive, the na­tive of Anxi, Fu­jian prov­ince where one of China’s most fa­mous tea, tie guan yin, is orig­i­nated, be­lieved she was “born for tea”.

With a tea plan­ta­tion in Anxi dat­ing back to the 19th cen­tury and man­aged by her fam­ily for more than three gen­er­a­tions, the 28-year-old no­ticed a giant gen­er­a­tion gap be­tween tea drinkers while trav­el­ing be­tween her home­town and Shang­hai, where she has been liv­ing and work­ing. In 2015, she Shang­hai.

With an ad­van­tage of get­ting bet­ter and cheaper tea from her own fam­ily plan­ta­tion as well as cre­ated Oritea in other lo­cal sup­pli­ers thanks to their net­work, Lin found her edge among hun­dreds of new tea drink brands by of­fer­ing cold brew tea, which she said is more de­mand- ing for the qual­ity of the tea leaves.

By lo­cat­ing most of her stores next to of­fice build­ings, Lin noted that her cus­tomers are mostly “peo­ple like her”, aged be­tween 20 to 35 years old and with an in­ter­est in Chi­nese tra­di­tion. To­day, Oritea has nine out­lets in Shang­hai, and is plan­ning to ex­pand to 20 cities with 50 stores by 2019.

With 175 stores glob­ally serv­ing some 2.5 mil­lion cus­tomers, Malaysian bub­ble tea giant Tealive will soon have its flag­ship store in Shang­hai up and run­ning. More than that, the brand said it would in­crease its pres­ence in China to 500 lo­ca­tions in three years.

Started in 2010 by a lo­cal biotech sales­man with zero back­ground in the cater­ing in­dus­try, Tealive to­day sells 1.2 mil­lion cups of tea every month and rakes in up­wards of 100 mil­lion ring­git ($22.9 mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to CNN.

Its global ex­pan­sion plan is set to bring the brand to six new coun­tries in­clud­ing In­dia, China and Aus­tralia with 1,000 stores by 2020.

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