Retailers quick to meet changing shopping preferences

Ding Yining
Retailers are moving fast to meet demands of "new consumption" trend, and the China International Import Expo is a place to for trials of new tastes and formats.
Ding Yining

Shanghai accountant Kiwi Zhou fancies all kinds of seasonal tea-based fruit drinks and dairy beverages, and is always the first to try a new product launch.

"There seems to be endless new flavors from Heytea and Nayuki's Tea and many other beverage chain stores," she said.

Zhou is among one of those who chase the so-called "new consumption" trend, as new tastes and retail formats appeal to shoppers who are harder to satisfy.

While caterers are driven to upgrade their offerings and stay in tune with local demands, raw material providers also feel the need to keep up with local tastes.

New Zealand dairy exporter Fonterra has been a quick mover to offer recipes for catering businesses.

The company is also encouraged by the further opening-up and growing business opportunities presented at the China International Import Expo.

The Fonterra Application Center in Shanghai was upgraded last week to include more digital facilities, making it easier to present to customers its recipe for pastries, tea drinks and bakeries.

Retailers quick to meet changing shopping preferences
Ti Gong

One of the new dishes from Fonterra's application center in Shanghai

More than 300 new recipes are conceived and formulated for local catering businesses each year out of the application center.

Fonterra China CEO Teh-Han Chow said it remains confident of China's strong consumption power and will continue to invest in the local market and expand presence in more cities.

A positive market perspective in China remains and the consumption potential is robust for quality food and drink offerings, he noted.

"Catering customers have a strong desire to upgrade their dishes and drinks and we want to emphasize our functional dairy raw materials through the CIIE," he added.

It will also launch an interactive space for new beverage recipes in Shenzhen Application Center by the end of this year.

Retailers quick to meet changing shopping preferences
Ti Gong

Dairy spreads have become popular after they were first discovered by "new-consumption" pioneers at the 2nd CIIE in 2019.

"We have benefited from partnerships reached at previous editions of the CIIE," he said. "Our partnership with state-backed conglomerate Xiamen C&D Co has already surpassed the original intended contract value singed at the second CIIE (in 2019)."

At this year's expo, it hopes to strengthen specialty nutritional benefits to differentiate from other players and allow catering customers and visitors to experience the variety of offerings.

China's catering business was valued at 4.69 trillion yuan (US$616 billion) in 2021 and is expected to reach 5.56 trillion yuan by 2025 despite limits in dine-in service due to COVID-19 restrictions.

This has also given rise to new shopping behavior and a preference for home cooking.

Metro's signature French Charolais beef was a "star exhibit" at CIIE back in 2019 which helped it to promote imported beef to local customers.

Having received positive feedback from visitors and shoppers, this year, it is bringing the Teys beef from Australia with exclusive Teys Black beef offerings.

The retailer is making final preparations for a new member-only store in northern Shanghai's Baoshan District next month and remains confident that the new model will continue to thrive in China.

By the end of this year it will add another membership store in Beijing after it embarked on a store transformation plan last year.

Currently the retailer has more than 20 membership stores and intends to focus on the model with more presence planned in the coming years.

Retailers quick to meet changing shopping preferences
Ti Gong

Customers shop at a Metro store in Shanghai. Value-for-money retail is growing fast in China.

Chen Zhiyu, deputy chief executive officer of Metro China, said about one-fifth of total spending at Metro stores are coming from online orders and it will modify product and packages for household shoppers instead of corporate buyers.

He added it will continue to invest in merchandising and online shopping experiences to expand market share to provide both value-for-money and premium grocery and fresh food.

Beauty retailers continue to add new offerings to meet changing consumption habit and preferences.

Sephora added pop-up augmented reality facilities at its Shanghai flagship store on Nanjing Road W. earlier this month for a seasonal promotion of new skincare and beauty products.

The digital new facilities and augmented reality experience through smartphones help shoppers gain ideas from international fashion trends.

The beauty retailer said that the "Beauty Omniverse" digital experience help it bring to shoppers more than 230 seasonal new products from more than 40 brands at home and abroad.

It also brought 11 local beauty and skincare brands together at a special campaign to advocate oriental beauty ideas to overseas markets, and has seen notable advancement.

Retailers quick to meet changing shopping preferences
Ti Gong

New beauty products are meeting changing consumer preferences.

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