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  • Writer's pictureAkina Wong

Luckin Coffee partners with Starfield to offer plant-based meals for China’s busy white-collars

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Plant-based diet sees increasing popularity across the globe, and Chinese are no strangers to this diet, especially among the younger generation who are more environmentally conscious and who are more likely to make efforts not only for their own health but also for the environment.

Despite the will, many have failed to keep a healthy diet on workdays thanks to the fast-paced work life. The consumption of instant healthy food products among young Chinese has seen a more than 50-fold year-on-year increase, according to a report published by ecommerce platform Pinduoduo.

Leveraging the concepts of healthy living and conscious eating among young Chinese customers, and the demand for such diet among young working-class people, Luckin Coffee, is among the first cohort who tapped into the “light food” market in China.

“Light food” refers to food that is low fat, low calorie and low sugar and salt. These products also require fewer cooking processes, which makes them ideal choices for the busy working class.

The coffeehouse chain that started its life in Beijing in 2017, has partnered with Starfield, the first Chinese plant-based brand, to introduce 植场套餐 or plant-based meal set. The first two words 植场, which means plant scene in English, is a homophone for 职, the Chinese word for the workplace. Coffee drinks are coupled with sandwiches with plant-based sausages and wholemeal bread drizzled with high-protein but low-calorie sauce.

This meal set is part of its 今天星期零 or Today is Weekday Zero campaign, which aims to attract white-collar workers who often have to eat breakfast on the go. It characterises plants and incorporates plant elements into the work culture.

In the official video, it features five types of plants that represent five typical personalities at work, including sunflower for those who are always energetic, Mimosa pudica, also known as shameplant for those who are shy and who have social anxiety, and dandelion for those who are multitasked.

It also engages customers with daily quizzes where players can find out which plant type (植务 homophone for 职务, title at work) they are associated with through questions related to work scenario. For example, the workaholic is called cactus and those who are easy-going are linked to Codariocalyx motorius, or dancing grass.

To picturise the concept of eating well at work, it invites “idol of vitality” Sun Rui, a member of the Chinese idol girl group SNH48 from Shanghai to be the campaign ambassador. As the number one audition finalist is believed to have a “perky” look that matches the campaign’s goal. With a fanbase of over 8M on Weibo, the campaign post by Sun attracted more than 70,000 likes and shares.

By recreating a busy breakfast time, the setting resonates with many working young Chinese. The campaign has soon drawn over 70 million views with 150,000 joining the discussion. 53% content has been generated by top KOLs, and 27% from mid-tier KOLs, according to Vfluencer.

As more young Chinese favour of plant-based food, the market in China is expected to reach USD 13 billion by the year of 2023, accounting for almost half of the global market, according to Euromonitor. While many international plant-based brands have already cashed in the Chinese market, including Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Nestle’s Harvest Gourmet, and The Vegetarian Butcher owned by Unilever, the Chinese brand Starfield also strives to reach more domestic customers. So far, it has teamed up with 100 brands including tea chain Hey Tea and Nayuki and fast-food retailer Tim Hortons, with more than 5,500 stores across the country.

Source: Vfluencer Platform

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