This is part 2 of China Skinny’s observations at the SIAL Exhibition. Check out part 1 here.
In addition to wafers, coconut products, nuts and inventive flavourings China Skinny observed a few more interesting trends at SIAL.
Freeze dried food was one of the noticeable trends of the show. Freeze dried involves pulling the water out of fruits and vegetables while leaving the taste, texture and nutrient content almost 100% intact. This makes for easy logistics and is growing in popularity with Chinese consumers. Popular freeze dried products were sweet potatoes, taro, corn and about any kind of berry.
One interesting observation was not only the freeze dried products promoted on their own, but also with other ingredients. For example, Singaporean brand Gulliver utilised freeze dried fruits inside their chocolate. Freeze dried fruits showed up in everything from chocolate to gummies, cereals and more.
As SIAL is ‘China’s largest food innovation exhibition,’ it is only fitting that innovative packaging is central to the show. From alternative snack packaging sizes to resealable packs, packaging within packaging (a big package with smaller packs inside) and different bottle materials and shapes. There was no shortage of new sizes, styles and even shapes in packaging coming into China. What it comes down to is what sells.
A marketing manager of an Italian cookie brand stated that with all the packaging available, their best seller is big packs of cookies. Working alongside Walmart, the rep attributed the popularity of the big packs to their weight so consumers felt as if they were getting more for their yuan. The package is large and heavy, not filled with air like so many other packaged snacks. If the value play is driving sales, it shows the further complexities of the Chinese consumer – each brand has to have the right mix of characteristics to be considered for purchase.
While nothing as big or blatant as Uncle Martian, this being China there are bound to be copy cats. Two of our favorites were a Nutella knock off and Ritz stand-in. There were also an increasing number of Chinese brands sourcing ingredients internationally. These products looked as if they were from abroad, but with a closer look it was clear the brand was Chinese. Products posing has foreign but in reality a Chinese brand are not likely to fool Chinese consumers who do much more research about their purchases than their Western counterparts.
China is a competitive and fast changing market, something that can be seen at SIAL every year. What stuck with us the most was words from an imported sauce brand. This particular brand sells fish sauce and had tested with Chinese consumers who stated they liked the sauce and would use it at home. This was a product that is familiar to Chinese and fits their palate, but the brand representative said the product was not selling well in China and attributed low sales to the fact that the brand is not well-known among Chinese consumers. This goes to show that even if the product, packaging and price are perfect for your target market, the right marketing mix must be spot on for a chance at success in China. China Skinny can help with this.