In a post befitting this blog, single-serve drinks (300ml) have become a rage in China. The Coca-Cola Co set the trend in China back in April 2011 with the launch of 300ml Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite in select markets in the country. Single-serve drinks in mini bottle are marketed as cool, convenient and affordable. The “mini” attribute is ideal for co-branding/co-marketing activities such as with Mini Cooper, online short films and anything that is short, mini, cute and cool.
During the early days of 300ml in 2011, The Coca-Cola Co marketed it with Meters/bonwe, the local casual apparel wear company, which counts Jay Chau and other cool artistes as its brand spokespersons.
The same affordable, youthful and convenient appeals were used in the 2012 London Olympic Marketing featuring the Chinese Olympic swimmer Sun Yang. Noticed the bottle fitting nicely into the pocket, this is the imagery used in most of the mini Coke posters to demonstrate the 300ml drink is the perfect beverage companion when you are out of home.
The Coca-Cola Co is betting on on-the-go drinking occasion to spur greater consumption as the carbonated soft drinks market is seeing slower rate of volume growth compared with other categories due to health concerns.
The 300ml format has since become a permanent fixture for The Coca-Cola Co in China and the success of the single-serve packaging format is evident with the appearance of similar-sized products by its arch rivals PepsiCo and PepsiCo’s partner Tingyi probably in 2013. The key difference between The Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo is that PepsiCo’s comes with better value for money with the extra 30ml (330ml) volume, while sharing the same price as Coca-Cola at RMB 2 per bottle. It is no surprise since PepsiCo has always been pricing its products cheaper than The Coca-Cola Co in China due to it playing second fiddle to The Coca-Cola Co in the carbonate segment.
Tingyi (Master Kong), the bottling partner of PepsiCo’s beverages in China, has joined the fray with mini version (330ml) of its popular ready-to-drink (RTD) tea beverages, which are usually in the 500ml PET packaging. Single-serve 350ml PET RTD tea drink is relatively common in China. The appearance of the 330ml tea drink shows Tingyi, the market leader in the RTD tea category, is aware that it needs more packaging formats to target different drinking occasions such as afternoon tea for fashionable office ladies to stimulate sales.
Single-serve drinks will continue to a key trend in China as they are extremely affordable (RMB 2) and ideal for consumers who want watch their diet and control their soft drink consumption. For marketers, opportunities for the single-serve format are immense. It can be used to meet the needs of the different consumption occasions whether it is for office snacking or for a leisurely stroll.