Barry Callebaut’s romance with online chocolate in China
“Online is a relatively new relationship and experience for us,” said George. “What we’ve learned is that even chefs and chocolate users are excited about the opportunity to pick up good buys from our online site.”
As the clock struck midnight on 11/11 in China, thousands of online customers had bought Callebaut products from its Tmall store on that single day. The sales tally rang a 300% increase over previous year's record-setting sales total. The shopping frenzy sparked by the November 11 promotion was repeated on December 12, or Double 12, which is the country’s second-largest online shopping festival.
Meeting the needs of online buyers in China
“The Chinese consumers and business are going online. Even our customers – such as the artisanal and professional chocolatiers – in China are selling their chocolate products online to the consumers,” George said. “We are still a B2B company. But as lifestyle and business evolve, we need to have better online presence to meet our customers’ expectations and to reach out to more of these customers across all corners of China,” George explained.
Even our customers – such as the artisanal and professional chocolatiers – in China are selling their chocolate products online to the consumers.
Today, the company has several WeChat groups for the chef communities across several Chinese cities to provide these professionals users with relevant and timely product information. For these chefs, this is a chance to discuss how their products fit into their recipes, sharing stories on how they can be used to create fun and tasty creations, and looking for new and popular chocolate products.
Weeks later, George extended an invitation to Shirley Cheung to share her experience in leading China’s number one online cake maker, LeCake, with participants of Barry Callebaut’s annual global Managers’ Conference.
“I was so overwhelmed by the interest from our colleagues from around the world,” George said. “It just reaffirmed my belief that the Chinese are thinking beyond products made in Europe; it’s now about premium brands that are Made on the Internet.”
It’s all about Mobile
During his talk at the global meeting in Paris, George shared his personal experience living a day in China without cash – paying for everything including travelling and food only with his phone and his WeChat application.
“Online shopping in China is now a mobile affair, 90% of this Double 11 sales was done by mobile phones,” George said.
Alibaba’s increasingly mobile shoppers are the latest evidence that China is long past its PC era, even skipped the laptop era. People are not just using their phones for reading and games – they’re now doing pretty much everything on those smartphones, from basic grocery shopping to in-store payments to managing an online personal wealth fund.
China’s growing middle class and the country’s shift to a consumption and service driven economy will continue to spur the e-commerce growth despite China’s economic slowdown. George said he is excited that the country’s growing appetite for luxury and premium chocolate spells big opportunity for its e-commerce business.
Callebaut on Alibaba's Tmallhttps://www.barry-callebaut.com/sites/default/files/styles/paragraph_image_gallery_full/public/2019-01/1._tmall_.jpg?itok=AwMvl-ZF
Barry Callebaut CHOCOLATE ACADEMY center Shanghaihttps://www.barry-callebaut.com/sites/default/files/styles/paragraph_image_gallery_full/public/2021-05/chef-training-chocolate-academy-center-Shanghai_1.jpg?itok=HlbG_I54
Shirley Chueng, found of Chinese Le Cakehttps://www.barry-callebaut.com/sites/default/files/styles/paragraph_image_gallery_full/public/2019-01/3._shirley_cheung.jpg?itok=HhV4M4BX
Typical Chinese consumerhttps://www.barry-callebaut.com/sites/default/files/styles/paragraph_image_gallery_full/public/2021-05/chinese_consumer_0.jpg?itok=MuitjWdh
George Zhang, managing director of Barry Callebaut Chinahttps://www.barry-callebaut.com/sites/default/files/styles/paragraph_image_gallery_full/public/2019-01/george_zhang.jpg?itok=h29NVwyK