With the development of global economy and life standard, the demand for ice cream has also increased. In recent years, ice cream industry has a huge development in China, and the market size also has risen sustain. The ice cream industry not only focuses on the promotion of new flavors and creative products, but also makes the achievement of social communication effects in term of well-known brands. Due to the growth of e-commerce, Chinese industry is being upgraded according to the KOL’s popularity and marketing in various social medias like Douyin, Wechat program, Xiaohongshu etc. In addition, Chinese industry also promotes cultural innovation of consumers’ emotional demands and satisfactions in socialization that creates more development opportunities of ice cream market.
Chinese consumers’ demand for high-end ice cream has risen in recent years, and the whole ice cream market is being upgraded as more brands emerge and consumption habits change. Chinese ice cream market size reached 160 billion yuan in 2021, ranking the first in the world.
Although the total consumption of ice cream in China ranks among the top in the world, Chinese per capita annual consumption is about 3.5 liters, lower than that in Western countries (6-8 liters), implying Chinese ice cream market still has space to explore.1
Regrading brands, Yili, Wall’s, Mengniu, and Nestle keep their leading positions in the industry, accounting for over 50% of the market share. These brands kept rapid growth. For example, in 2021, Yili’s cold product business achieved operating income of 7.161 billion yuan, increasing by 16.28% yearly.2 Its sales in 2022Q1 were 2.8 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 35.5%.3 Another giant, Mengniu reached 4.24 billion yuan sales in 2021, increasing by 61% yearly.4
Seeing the potential in this market, big brands accelerated expansion in 2022. Recently, Unilever officially unveiled that WALL’S Taicang factory, were selected as a "Lighthouse Factory". It is the first “Lighthouse Factory” in the ice cream industry worldwide. (Lighthouse Factory: a concept jointly launched by the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company. The purpose is to select companies that have achieved fruitful results in the application and integration of cutting-edge technologies in the fourth industrial revolution and shape the future development of intelligent manufacturing.) Nestle also has confidence in the market and plans to launch over 20 new ice cream in China this year.
New brands are also rising, which bring new changes to the industry and boost positive competition in the whole market. Chicecream is a representative. Founded in 2018, Chicecream focuses on providing high-end and creative ice cream for Chinese consumers. Its sales exceeded 100 million within 16 months after its establishment. In the 618 shopping festival and Double 11 shopping festival in 2020 and 2021, Chicecream was the top 1 brand by sales in the ice product sector on Tmall. 5
Chinese luxury Baijiu brand Maotai even entered competition by opening offline ice cream stores and selling pre-packaged ice cream on its App. For now, it released five SKUs, three pre-packaged ice creams priced at 59 and 66 yuan, and two freshly made ice creams priced at 39 yuan. Despite the high prices, these new products were super popular, whose sales reached 200,000 yuan within seven hours. Long queues can be seen in its offline stores.6
The market share of ice cream’s online sales also grew with the rise of these new brands who rose online and the development of cold chain transportation, rising from 5% to 20% in 2021.