International and home-grown Chinese brands are seeing sales flattening as China’s economy slows. How could Mondelez deliver growth in this stagnant market? China’s rural population of over 600 million citizens has huge potential but research has consistently shown they prefer local brands above foreign ones (53% vs. 8% BCG). And reaching this vast area is notoriously difficult as traditional retail distribution points don’t exist and only 46% of people are online (in comparison to 84% in urban China).
Also, leveraging huge volumes of transactional data from partnerships with UnionPay, Alibaba and proprietary survey CCS, Carat found:
- Chinese New Year is still the most important celebration for families in rural China, they’re most likely to try new products that are recommended by friends and family.
- The majority of China’s citizens travel away from the major cities, to hometowns and villages in the hinterland. Snacking is a huge ritual during these long journeys home.
- Consumption is thriving in rural areas, but digital penetration is low with physical experiences preferred over digital ones.
- Rural audiences spend only 1.6 hours per day online vs. four hours in major cities but have 43% more engagement with OOH media.
Carat’s strategy was to “Take Oreo Home”. Through a strategic partnership with ecommerce giant Alibaba Group, Oreo could become part of local customs and culture in the heart of rural China.
A joint business partnership with retail giant, Alibaba Group, as its exclusive snacking partner allowed the agency to leverage its ecosystem of e-commerce, marketing and logistics in rural areas. Together, they created activations that had never been done before — ‘Taobao Villages’ fused e-commerce with experiential across 10,000 locations outside major cities.
To capture the excitement at the start of the celebrations, it positioned Oreo as central to the trip home for millions of Chinese by taking over key travel spots, this idea also became the central theme of the OTV creative.
By focusing on the journey and the destinations, these activations brought Oreo into rural China and into the celebrations. 600 million potential new consumers were given the chance to interact with the brand and learn how to shop online.
To begin Oreo’s journey home…
With Alibaba’s help, the brand established 10,000 new distribution points across rural China, creating village pop up stores filled with special edition Oreos.
The agency wrapped the outside of trains heading from cities to the rural areas, creating anticipation and excitement for the big trip home. Covering 37 stations and travelling over 100,000km into the heart of the Chinese countryside. It also created an “Oreo World”, complete with branded cushions, posters, window stickers and wallets.
This message was amplified in the TVC, helping scale the message and creating the context for bringing Oreo into the countryside.
To complete the Oreo journey, local experts showed visitors how to scan the QR code and access the Mondelez flagship store for direct purchase, using online exclusive offers to reward new users.
The campaign brought Oreo home as Alibaba’s most popular brand during the Chinese New Year festival.
The brand reached new consumers:
• A new retail channel established with sales delivered through the Alibaba network of 10,000 shops.
• Covering 1/3 of China and accessing 200 million new consumers in just two months.
• Increasing ecommerce traffic by an average of 366% when the campaign was live.
• Driving five million new visits to the Mondelez flagship store on Tmall.
Driving new sales:
• 150% monthly increase in Oreo ecommerce sales.
• Beating the previous record for Mondelez ecommerce sales set on 11.11 by 35%.
• 52% increase in Oreo base sales vs same period 2015.
• Overall the campaign delivered an exceptional ROI of 5:1.