Chinese New Dairy Brands’ Growth Strategy
BY Shine HuMar 02, 2020


One characteristic of China’s dairy market is its high market concentration. The top 3 dairy enterprises (Yili, Mengniu, and Brightdairy) account for more than 50% of the market [1]. In addition, there are many regional dairy enterprises and imported brands. In a market dominated by large domestic players and major multinationals, new entrants face huge challenges.

However, there are still new dairy brands emerging and gaining traction. Prominent examples are Adopt A Cow, Simple Love, and Lepur, which have grown fast and garnered viral attention online in recent years. 


Introduction of 3 emerging brands

Adopt A CowSimple LoveLepur
Founding time201620152014
Major product categoryUHT milk, yogurtYogurtYogurt
Average unit price4-6 RMB5-10 RMB15-20 RMB
Performance highlights
  • Sales exceeded 300 million in two years

  • The first 6 minute's turnover in 2019 11/11 Shopping Festival exceeded the whole day turnover of 2018 11/11 Shopping Festival

  • Achieving double growth for four consecutive years

  • Current monthly sales exceed 100 million

  • Ranking No.1 of the low-temperature dairy product category in supermarkets like Fresh Hema

  • Monthly sales exceeded 10 million in 2017

  • Gaining strategic investment of Coca-Cola in 2018

Growth strategy

Product differentiation

Adopt A Cow emphasizes its quality milk source. It has its own pastures and more than 60 thousand Australian Holstein cows, producing milk superior to Japanese and EU standards. Ipsos data revealed that 94% of consumers place the highest priority on the quality of dairy products. As part of its marketing and consumer engagement strategy, the brand also offers pasture tours.

Simple Love’s difference lies in its ingredient list, which is extremely simple: raw milk, sugar, and lactic acid bacteria. Later it removed sugar, and now its major selling point is “no additives” and “no sugar." In addition to its extremely simple ingredients, the brand is also targeting the functional yogurt category and has launched an LGG probiotic yogurt, which purports to improve intestinal health. It has also launched yogurt for babies and pregnant women.

Lepur’s selling point is also a clean label “no additive” claim. It also highlights its 7.0-9.5g high protein content (normally protein concentration in yogurt is around 3g per 100g). The brand also has invested heavily in developing innovative flavors and packaging. The brand developed many unique flavors that are not available in the market, like coconut & rose, and durian. It also rolls out limited holiday flavors like white peach & rose on Chinese Valentine’s day and apple & cinnamon on Christmas Day. Its packaging is also an appealing point. Consumers have a strong desire to share the product in their social media circle and help the brand reach a wider audience. 


Omni-channel operation

The three brands have all established online + offline channels. Online channels include "we media," e-commerce platforms, and "we business," and offer home delivery services through cooperation with logistics companies. Offline channels are very diverse and differ for each of the three brands. Adopt A Cow has sold products in fruit chain stores and also plans to expand into channels like the community stores, office buildings, and kindergartens. Simple Love focuses on premium supermarkets like OLE and new retail supermarkets such as Fresh Hema. Lepur sells its products in modern convenience stores such as 7-11, Family and Lawson, and it also brings its products into Michelin Star Restaurants, five-star hotels like The Peninsula and Waldorf- Astoria and import supermarkets. 

Social media marketing

In China, social media marketing has been hugely influential in shaping the purchasing behaviors of Chinese consumers. Representative platforms include Tik Tok, Red, Sina Weibo, Taobao Live, WeChat Official Account, etc. In this regard, the three brands have separate strategies.

Adopt A Cow’s road to fame began on “we media." In 2017, “we media” accounts like Wu Xiaobo Channel (financial and economic “we media”), Ten O’clock Reading (book sharing “we media”), and Daddy Lab (product test “we media”) helped the brand rise to popularity. In 2018, short video was all the rage, and the brand upgraded its marketing by tapping into Tik Tok, Red, Sina Weibo, and Bilibili. 

Simple Love promotes its products in channels that appeal to young people, such as Tik Tok, Red, and Taobao Live. Additionally, it takes good advantage of the WeChat ecosystem, including WeChat Mini Program and Wechat private domain traffic such as Circle of Friends, WeChat Group, WeChat Official Account, etc. It holds the No.1 spot for dairy sales on Wechat [2].

Lepur pays attention to user participation in product development and user interaction in brand growth. For example, in developing durian-flavored yogurt, it found a large number of durian lovers through Sina Weibo and Zhihu (Chinese version of Quora) and invited them to taste and then selected the best formula. These people were mostly KOLs with a high number of followers that could also help channel traffic towards the brand. It also made the back of the packaging into an open design element that everyone could contribute to. By inviting consumers to participate in the packaging design, the brand established user community and built user loyalty.

Disclaimer: All images used in this article are from the internet.

Shine Hu
ChemLinked Research Analyst
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