Instant Noodles - China - March 2012
"Until recently, China’s instant noodles market was facing the dilemma of having become a mature market with stagnant growth, despite the continued rapid economic growth of the country. The success of instant noodles in reaching this position was based on their convenience, but little had been done to maintain product innovation, and consumers had begun to take them for granted. Meanwhile, other snack and convenience meal markets were growing fast, and taking share of consumer spending, and interest, away."
- Matthew Crabbe, Research Director Mintel APAC
In this report we answer the following questions:
- How can instant noodles shake off their commodity image, and become interesting to consumers again?
- How are instant noodles using flavours and packaging to develop value added status, and what more can be done?
- What are the differences between key consumer groups and how can they be encouraged to eat more instant noodles?
- What premium features will attract more consumers to the instant noodle market?
Until recently, China’s instant noodles market was facing the dilemma of having become a mature market with stagnant growth, despite the continued rapid economic growth of the country. The success of instant noodles in reaching this position was based on their convenience, but little had been done to maintain product innovation, and consumers had begun to take them for granted. Meanwhile, other snack and convenience meal markets were growing fast, and taking share of consumer spending, and taking interest away.
New product flavouring and packaging developments have helped to reignite some consumer interest, but instant noodles could be providing many more convenience and premium features that they are not yet offering, and which competing markets are. For example, Chinese consumers have become increasingly concerned about health issues, yet instant noodles product development, until very recently, had barely touched on health as a key marketing feature.
Chinese consumer lifestyles have become very much more diverse with rapid economic change, and consumption patterns between different segments have diverged into different needs. But instant noodles are only beginning to react to the differing lifestyle needs of many different potential consumer groups, and there is a significant amount that can be done to demonstrate to different consumer groups in China that instant noodles can be relevant to their lives.
Average consumer incomes have grown very quickly in recent years, but instant noodles have failed to keep up with the rising desire among consumers for better quality and higher value products. That is now changing, and there are many avenues of premiumisation that the industry can follow to raise consumer interest and relevance. There also many new means of delivery to market that have not yet been fully explored in the context of instant noodles, and innovation in this area can add to attraction of convenience that instant noodles have.
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