Increasing avocado consumption in China
Before Mission and Lantao teamed, China’s avocado market had yet to be developed and most avocados were shipped and marketed to some large hotels with foreign cooks in the major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Very few Chinese consumers understood how to open and eat the fruit, let alone know the nutritional value of avocados.
This is clearly described in a YouTube video entitled “Do people from China like avocados?” which shows a Chinese person in a restaurant unwittingly being introduced to the fruit for the first time.
Clearly, Mission Avocado saw the huge potential of China’s market potential after seeing a similar situation with the Japan market. Ron Araiza, Vice President of Sales for Mission Produce explained “We saw a similar situation with Japanese consumers when we entered their market. Though they knew relatively little about avocados, their culture was big on giving fruit as gifts and eating fruit for health, which is a similar environment for fruit with Chinese consumers. So we figured it was a good bet that China was a great growth opportunity for us just like Japan has been.”
The challenge was how to reach 1.3 billion Chinese consumers where 80% of shoppers still purchase their fruits and vegetables on a daily basis from traditional markets like fruit stands, push carts, farmer’s markets and small wet markets in China’s various cities. Supermarkets are getting a great share of the retails dollar in certain categories, but fresh fruit and vegetables is not one of them. The sales trend for fresh fruits is actually in the other direction with sales to traditional markets and fruit shops increasing over supermarkets.
John Wang, CEO of Lantao and his team got feedback from their customers and learned the best way to teach Chinese consumers about avocados is to provide point-of-purchase material to the traditional markets to help the store vendors and the consumers learn nutritional information, recipes and usage tips for the fruit. “We came up with a flag campaign” said Wang. “Promotional flags were distributed with each box of fruit that we sold so the fruits stands and markets could display information about avocados. The flags included a QR code, which is a popular way for Chinese consumers to get information or redeem promotions and coupons.
The QR Code links consumers to Lantao’s WeChat platform for providing information and direct fruit sales to consumers. Jim Provost, Vice President of North American Sourcing for Lantao told us that social networking is a new and important way we are getting information to the consumer and increasing sales.
In China 900 million people have cell phones, of which 60 to 70 percent have capability for WeChat technology. WeChat now has 396 million monthly active users, a rise of 40 million since the end of last year. Consumers are introduced to our store front through the QR codes from our promotions, or are introduced by friends.
“Lantao set up store fronts in each city we work in, said Provost “so it allows for closer connection to our consumers and enables us to reach consumers in 2nd and even 3rd tier cities in China. When consumers place orders on our platform, they have options for delivery, or they can pick up at centralized locations. Payment is through a system similar to PayPal.”
As a result of the joint promotion between Mission and Lantao, avocado sales have increased by 15% since the promotion started in September.
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