1. How big is the coffee market in China?

China’s coffee consumption market is rapidly opening up. 2021 it has reached 381.7 billion yuan, and is expected to reach 1 trillion yuan in 2025. According to the International Coffee Organization in London, coffee consumption in China is growing at a staggering rate of 15% per year (the global average is 2%). For international coffee brands interested in entering the Chinese market, there is a very promising track in front.

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2. What kind of coffee do Chinese people like?

Cappuccino, latte, mocha and Americano are the most preferred coffee among Chinese consumers. In China, capsule coffee is a relatively new product and is gradually becoming a new consumer trend. Instant coffee powder and bottled coffee drinks are the most purchased by Chinese consumers (49.3% and 40.6% respectively). With the gradual development of Chinese consumers’ habit of drinking freshly ground coffee and their pursuit of the flavor and quality, Chinese consumers prefer international coffee brands with high quality and good reputation.

3. In China, who consumes coffee?

In China, young people are the main consumer group of coffee. They like innovation, trends and experiences. Coffee is also a way of leisure for them. Coffee companies with high reputation, social, interactive features are more likely to win their attention.

4. Where do Chinese people buy coffee? What are their purchasing habits?

In China, there are several types of coffee sales channels such as convenience stores, coffee shops, self-service coffee machines, online shopping and takeaway coffee. More than 70% of Chinese consumers prefer to buy coffee from coffee shops.

5. How to sell coffee in China?

If international coffee brands want to enter the competitive Chinese market successfully, they must increase brand awareness among target Chinese consumers. High exposure through social media platforms is one way for brands to gain consumer trust. For international coffee brands, online marketing is a very important step.

6. How do international coffee brands use social media platforms for marketing in China?

Determine the selling point of the coffee brand

Selling coffee in China, according to the positioning of the coffee brand and the needs of the target consumer group to determine product’s selling point.

China’s coffee consumer group are young, aged between 20 and 40 years old. With higher education and income levels, coffee consumers  live in first-tier cities and have a great taste for quality life. Women account for nearly 65% of the group. Coffee brands need to deliver the concept of “modern”, “fashionable”, “cozy and exquisite urban life” to consumers.

Highlight the advantages of the coffee brand.

“High-tech extraction”, “cool water brewing”, “preferred French life”, “7 acidity levels” or “drink Starbucks at home”, etc. Benchmarking against competing products highlights the differentiating features of new coffee products to maximize consumer curiosity.

Coffee brands can also establish a socially responsible brand image when entering the Chinese market. Taking advantage of the mostly-discussed news in Chinese society to approach coffee consumers.

Promote coffee brands on Chinese social platforms: RED(Xiaohongshu)-Weixin-TikTok

RED (Xiaohongshu): Best UGC platform for coffee brands

Statistics about Little Red Book / Xiahongshu

The best platform for international coffee brands to arouse consumers’ interest is RED (Xiaohongshu). As the most popular UGC platform in China, Xiaohongshu has a large young consumer base. With a strong desire to share shopping experience, xiaohongshu users like new products and they also have a high spending power. (Click to learn more about Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu platform)

On Xiaohongshu, Brands enjoy great autonomy in terms of advertising strategy: selecting KOL and KOC, creating trendy topics, presenting product photos or shooting videos etc. International coffee brands can use both search and information flow forms for traffic exposure and create long-tail keywords to reach Xiaohongshu audiences

Interface of the app of Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu

WeChat: Multifunctional platform for coffee brands

Interface of the WeChat application

Chinese coffee consumers consider the brand’s WeChat official account as an official website.On Wechat, coffee brands can activate all functions such as new product launch, brand PR, consumer coupon issuance, interactive activities, customer service and even online purchase. This is very important to increase users’ trust and adhesiveness.

TikTok: Large traffic & interaction for coffee brands: 

Interface of the TikTok application

To sell coffee in China,TikTok is the most influential marketing platform. TikTok’s advanced algorithm categorizes users’ preferences accurately. It spreads quickly and can generate large amounts of natural traffic by launching brand imitation campaigns.

Chinese consumers trust TikTok’s celebrity’s recommendation, so international coffee brands can integrate product information with TikTok’s celebrity’s Vlog, letting Chinese coffee consumers understand the brand’s story and creativity.

7.   Which online platforms are most suitable for international coffee brands?

Tmall International Store

Tmall International, the import retail platform of Alibaba, is the most trusted B2C platform for Chinese consumers to buy imported products and one of the best e-commerce platforms in China. Up to now, more than 29,000 overseas brands from 87 countries and regions around the world have entered Tmall International, covering more than 5,800 categories, with more than 80% of them entering China for the first time.

Tmall International provides two kinds of stores for international coffee brands 

Tmall self-operated store:  brand sells product to Tmall, which is solely responsible for the sales and service of the products.

Brand official store:  brand opens its own official flagship store in Tmall, and it is the brand that controls the operation of the online store.

Jingdong International

Jingdong International is a one-stop consumption platform for international goods. It is recognized by all Chinese consumers, especially for cross-border imported goods business. 

In terms of trade imports, Jingdong International attracts nearly 20,000 brands from more than 70 countries and regions, including the United States, Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Germany, with products covering fashion, maternal & infant products, nutrition and health care, personal care and beauty, imported food etc.

Jingdong International  provides two kinds of stores for international coffee brands 

Jingdong self-operated store.

Jingdong buys products from manufacturers uniformly and then sells them online, and the brands can enjoy the logistics and after-sales service of Jingdong international.

Brand official store.

The brand or Jingdong’s exclusive licensee uses Jingdong’s platform to open a store, and pay platform usage fees every year. In addition to managing merchants and customer services (refunds, complaints, etc.), Jingdong is not involved in specific operations.

There is no doubt that the coffee market in China will continue to grow. In addition to high quality products, international coffee brands need to be good at using Chinese social media platforms to approach Chinese consumers and build an impressive brand image. This is the case with the success of coffee brands that Chinese consumers love, such as Starbucks, Costa and illy. What are your expectations for the Chinese coffee market?

For more information about the Chinese coffee market, please contact STAiiRS.

We will provide you with the most professional advice based on your specific needs.