Written by COFCO Grains & Cereals
Market insight: Identify racetrack for business growth
In the packaged rice market, COFCO Fortune’s “Natural Fragrance” rice leveraged its in-depth market and consumer insights to carve out a new racetrack that freed it from homogeneous competition.
The 1st change: Major force of consumer demographics
Corresponding to the changes in the age structure of social population, the majority of packaged rice consumers has shifted from those born in the 1950-1960’s to those born in the 1980-1990’s. The Z generation displays distinctly different consumption attitude from their parents in production selection.
The 2nd change: Price range that experiences growth
As can be seen from a third-party’s monitoring statistics, packaged rice of medium to high price has enjoyed rapid growth in market share since 2018. However, the growth of overall consumption volume has remained stagnant while the consumption value has grown moderately. The overall market environment is characterized by consumption upgrade trend.
At the same time, with people’s ever-rising demand for a better life, they expect their daily diet to move from being “filling” to being “fulfilling and healthy”. Their habit of consuming packaged rice has gradually shifted to “smaller quantity but better quality”. Consumers have set their eyes on the medium- to high-end series of products.
The 3rd change: Competitive landscape
Fortune still lags behind its major competitors in terms of rice products of the same category and price range. Considering the overall market competition and the trend of high quality brand development, it can be concluded that Fortune rice shall build a medium- to high-end product line of its own.
Consumer insight: Identify the driver for core consumption of rice categories
Actionable insights always take advantage of the situation and opportunity, leveraging instead of starting a trend.
In 2019, COFCO Grains & Cereals Sales & Distribution Co., Ltd. conducted a nation-wide U&A survey on rice and flour consumers. The survey covered about 3,000 consumers across a wide spectrum of industries, income levels and age. We accompanied consumers to buy grocery in the supermarket, and observed how they washed and cooked rice at home. In this most direct manner, we learned about the actual needs of consumers and the desired effects of products.
After visiting households in twelve cities of different tiers, our team found that consumers in various regions of the country have different preferences for the flavor of the rice. However, they prioritize “fragrance” as the top criterion for judging the quality of the rice without prior consultation. Good rice should exude a faint scent when it is raw; its fragrance should waft about when being cooked; and it should add aroma when being eaten. “Fragrances” at each link consist of the whole expectation of consumers for a bowl of quality and palatable rice. At the same time, “fragrance” has also become the most weighted factor in various quantified survey data.
Develop new products: Satisfy consumers’ psychological needs
If insight is the entrance, then creativity is the exit. Only profound insight can generate accurate and potent product features. Based on previous comprehensive research and analysis, the product development team identified the core consumption driver for packaged rice category and dedicated themselves to the path of innovative R&D of “Natural Fragrance” series of rice products to meet market demand.
Course of action No.1: Crack the hardcore technology
How to go beyond the homogeneous competition regarding fragrance among different growing areas and rice types? Based on market survey results and consumers’ actual needs for health and delicacy, our product development team embarked on R&D innovation. After conducting numerous fragrance and taste experiments and tests and integrating the R&D results of several institutes including COFCO Nutrition & Healthy Research Institute, the product team finally launched Fortune “Natural Fragrance” series of rice products by applying the 9% golden grinding technology, which significantly reduces the meaningless processing loss by fully retaining the original flavor of rice and effectively conserving the nutritional substances of rice grain’s aleurone layer and sub-aleurone layer.
Course of action No. 2: Innovate the product packaging
With profound insight into target consumers born in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the team discovered that they place more importance on the “appearance” of the packaging when selecting rice products. What they prefer is personalized, succinct and straightforward design concept.
First, “Natural Fragrance” series of rice are packaged in black and white colors. The hi-tech cool appearance is immensely appealing to young consumers. In addition, the product utilizes “graphics” and “numerals” to highlight its selling points to consumers, guiding them to choose appropriate products based on their preferences. What’s more, the production date is printed on an easily recognizable place, helping consumers learn about its production date, batch number and product type.
“Insight” should be prioritized if we intend to develop popular products. The product team should fully understand the actual needs of market and consumption and satisfy the market and consumer demand through product R&D to the maximum. “Consumer first strategy” is not an empty slogan. Starting from scratch to excellence, Fortune “Natural Fragrance” is a strong proof of the effectiveness of this strategy.