Ice Cream Houses - China - February 2013
“There is unmet demand for better-for-you ice cream products, with consumers wanting to strike a balance between health and indulgence when they consume ice cream. Ice cream houses could tap into this segment by actively offering and promoting their better-for-you ice cream products or alternatives. ”
– Lui Meng Chow – Research Analyst
Some questions answered in this report include:
- What has been the effect of the emergence of cafés, fast food and modern oriental (traditional) dessert houses?
- How can ice cream house entice more consumers despite the fierce competition with foodservice outlets?
- Is the emergence of more fusion food in the wider catering market beginning to influence ice cream houses’ menu and flavour?
- How does the operator balance health and indulgence to target their consumers?
Despite the historic lack of dairy products in the Chinese diet, demand has been emerging from the growing population that has been newly exposed to Western dairy-based foods. The ice cream house sector is not new in China, with foreign ice cream foodservice outlets appearing in the country as early as the late 1980s to early 1990s, however it only expanded rapidly in the mid-2000s when China was hosting various international events.
As China’s economy is growing rapidly, lower tier cities too are increasingly benefiting from the market’s growth, with more consumers starting to be exposed to the ice cream parlour culture. Meanwhile, rising average incomes, greater numbers of middle class consumers and the spreading influence of Western trends mean that Chinese consumers are becoming more willing to indulge in varieties of ice cream with exotic flavours, as well as innovative ice cream products. Meanwhile, in wealthier cities, consumers who are stressed through work are increasingly willing to pay for premium treats and a cosy environment.
Ice cream houses are still regarded as a western concept and ice cream seen as a seasonal product, which most Chinese only consume during warm seasons. One of their direct competitors is the Chinese dessert houses, which serve a variety of Chinese traditional desserts. These have long been consumed by the Chinese, especially sweet soup in the southern region. Their flexibility to be served hot or cold has allowed the Chinese to enjoy them in both warm and cold seasons. Nowadays, Chinese dessert houses are becoming modernised and are popular places for people to socialise, indulge or relax there.
China’s one child policy also means that parents tend to reward their children with quality treats that they themselves probably did not get to enjoy in the past. Moreover, ice cream houses also increasingly used as a socialising venue for consumers, rather than somewhere just to appease children or indulge. To remain competitive with other food services outlets, ice cream houses should where possible diversify their food and drink choices and promotional touchpoints to appeal to various demographics.
There is unmet demand for better-for-you ice cream products, with consumers wanting to strike a balance between health and indulgence when they consume ice cream. Ice cream houses could tap into this segment by actively offering and promoting their better-for-you ice cream products or alternatives.
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