SHANGHAI (AdAgeChina.com) -- Coca-Cola Co. made its first move in China's dairy drink category this week with the launch of Minute Maid Pulpy Super Milky.
Minute Maid Pulpy, a variation on the global juice brand Minute Maid with added fresh fruit-pulp., was created for the Chinese market in 2004, starting with two flavors, orange and grapefruit.
The drink is one of Coke's biggest hits in China. The mainland is Coke's third-largest market globally by sales, but the second-largest market for Minute Maid after the U.S. -- and it continues to grow by double-digit figures in China.
Eager to expand the hit brand, Coke introduced two more flavors this year, tropical fruit and a grape juice with bits of fresh aloe vera. The latest entrant, Minute Maid Pulpy Super Milky, is a creamy fruit-flavored dairy drink that fuses fruit juice, milk powder with whey protein and bits of coconut.
Sold in three flavors, mango, peach and pineapple, the drink will launch in 300 cities across China by the end of this year, according to Coca-Cola.
Like the rest of the Minute Maid Pulpy range, the Super Milky drink was created by Coke's R&D center in Shanghai specifically for the Chinese market, and its marketing features Eason Chan. The Hong Kong pop singer attended the Oct. 12 launch event in Shanghai, and appears in ads created by Coke's Minute Maid agency in China, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Shanghai.
The Super Milky drink launch campaign, called "My Delightful Fusion Lifestyle," includes a TV spot starring Mr. Chan and a digital marketing program that invites Coke consumers to try the new drink through playful interactive games.
Game participants can upload and share creative facial expressions reflecting the drink's taste and ingredients -- juicy, milky, chewy -- at supermilky.minutemaid.com.cn. The digital campaign was developed by Aegis-owned Wwwins Consulting in Shanghai, Coke's digital media agency in China.
A sampling road show in about 300 cities will follow.
Earlier this year, Coke said it plans to spend $2 billion in China on new plant and distribution infrastructure, sales and marketing, and R&D in the next three years, a move that underscores the importance of China as a growth market for the U.S. beverage giant.
"We believe that Minute Maid Pulpy Super Milky, developed specifically for Chinese consumers, will allow us to continue to grow Minute Maid's strong position in the market. Furthermore this product underscores our commitment to China in developing new products for the local market and the world from our Chinese R&D center," said Doug Jackson, Coca-Cola's president, Greater China in Shanghai.
The latest product is a "key milestone," he added, because it marks Coke's entrance in China's large and growing dairy drink category.
Chinese consumed more than 6.2 billion liters of dairy drinks in 2008, according to the beverage research firm Canadean. Minute Maid Pulpy Super Milky is significant for another reason. Coke has experimented in Greater China -- and in the rest of Asia -- with non-carbonated beverages that will resonate with local consumers.
Asians by and large grew up on tea, fruit juice and dairy drinks.
Chinese are also more focused on their health, and concerns about food quality and safety, particularly for their children, since many families have only one child due to rules to control population growth.
Dairy drinks are popular in China, mostly produced by local beverage and dairy companies such as Danone's former partner Wahaha Group, Yili Group and China Mengniu Dairy Co.
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