Southeast Asian milk tea has “made a comeback”, with brands opening 300+stores. Can this category break out?

By orchioo Apr29,2023

“New Tea is fighting in Southeast Asia, but a large number of young people in China are drinking” Southeast Asian milk tea. “.
Recently, I have noticed a brand called Milk Plus Thai Milk Tea, which has opened four stores in Shanghai with its main product “Ahuatian Crispy Thai Milk” to differentiate itself.
In Kunming, Pattila, which specializes in bagged Lao ice coffee and Thai milk tea, has opened more than 300 stores.
“A mouthful of rich” Southeast Asian milk tea, will it become a major brand this year?
1、 Southeast Asia Tourism Hot, Shanghai Becomes Popular with a Wave of “Thai Milk” New Stores
In the past two months, with the popularity of short videos of “Departing to Thailand”, Thai cuisine seems to have ushered in another small-scale outbreak. According to media reports, many Thai material chain stores have launched a new round of store opening plans.
Recently, a number of new stores focusing on “Thai style milk tea” have emerged in the market:
For example, this brand called Milk Plus Thai Milk Tea, under the banner of “No.1 on the Guangzhou Thai Milk Tea List”, has opened its stores from Guangzhou to Shanghai.
Last week, I went on a field trip. This store mainly features a blue and white minimalist style. Klein Blue has a strong visual impact and looks cool and eye-catching.
The menu is very distinctive, with the main promotion of “Fruit Thai Milk”, such as Duomang Mangtai Milk and Maoshan Wangtai Milk. It also caters to the Shanghai market by launching “Ahuatian Crispy Thai Milk”, which has opened up its popularity.
They have also put a lot of effort into product packaging, such as launching Thai milk in milk bottles, Thai milk in wine bottles, Thai milk in buckets, and so on.
According to public reviews, Milk Plus Thai Milk Tea has opened four stores in Shanghai, and many people have come to visit because of its popularity.
There is also a brand called Samui Tea Sumei, which uses plastic bags to pack Thai style black milk tea. With the help of the heat of packaged milk tea, it has now opened 27 stores in Shanghai.
Not only in Shanghai, but also across the country, Southeast Asian milk tea is accelerating its pace, with some opening hundreds of stores.

For example, as previously reported by Carmen, Batila started as a small cart in Kunming Corridor Pedestrian Street in 2019, and in July 2021, the number of stores exceeded 100. Up to now, it has opened more than 300 stores nationwide, mainly distributed in Yunnan, Zhejiang, Sichuan, Jiangsu, and other places.
According to Wu Zewei, founder of Batila, Batila has over 30 SKUs, including Thai milk tea, lemon tea, coffee, fruit tea, and specialty products, with prices ranging from 17 to 22 yuan.
Compared to the categories of new tea drinks that are frequently sold in thousands or even thousands of stores, Southeast Asian drinks still have a significant niche attribute, and the market size does not occupy an advantage.
In a year when all categories want to “show their strength”, is there a chance for Southeast Asian drinks to become national brands?
2、 After so many years of fire, why hasn’t it been a “big brand”?
Let’s discuss a question first:
Why hasn’t Southeast Asian drinks become a national brand after so many years of popularity?
In fact, the Southeast Asian drinks we often refer to are drinks represented by Thai style black milk tea and Lao ice coffee. They are heavy in milk and sugar, and a large amount of ice cubes are added to remove greasy substances, making them refreshing and enjoyable. They are very suitable for summer.
In the summer of 2021, “bagged milk tea” became popular. This plastic bag with ice and drinks, and a small rubber band used to tie the mouth of the product, with a unique form and prominent appearance, coupled with the prevalence of stall sales, has greatly increased its popularity in the industry.
However, around this category, we often encounter situations such as opening a store for a while, it is difficult to grow in popularity, and there is no large-scale brand.
Based on interviews and analysis, people’s rigid labeling of “Southeast Asian drinks” is an important reason for restricting its development.
On the one hand, there is the issue of food safety. Due to the bright color of the product, many consumers regard it as “colored tea”, and a taste of fresh tea is enough.
In addition, plastic bags, stalls and other elements have become popular, making it difficult to establish a high-quality image in the minds of consumers.
More importantly, the seasonal label for “Southeast Asian drinks” is difficult to remove.
Wu Zewei told me that in fact, Thai style milk tea shops can also serve some hot drinks to supplement their winter menu in winter, but because “Southeast Asian drinks” are inherently refreshing in summer, “they only remind consumers of ‘heat relief’, not ‘warmth’.”
Winter is still the main challenge for Southeast Asian beverage stores.
However, it is undeniable that in the current era of severe homogenization, Southeast Asian drinks, as a differentiated choice, also have development opportunities.
3、 It’s time to refocus on Southeast Asian milk tea
Based on interviews and new changes in the brand and consumer side, I have found that there are also some new advantages in making Southeast Asian drinks nowadays.
1. A single “rich taste” that can be remembered at a mouthful
As a beverage, products with a single taste but clear memory points are highly competitive in the market.
This is also a long-standing advantage of Southeast Asian beverages. According to Wu Zewei, Southeast Asian drinks, whether coffee or tea, are higher in extraction concentration than other categories, allowing consumers to “remember at a glance.”.
In addition, there are also changes in the consumer side. Taking milk tea as an example, it can be clearly felt this year that drinks with a strong sense of tea are beginning to be sought after by consumers.
Southeast Asian milk tea has a more prominent tea flavor, such as Pattila’s Thai hand label green/red milk tea, which comes from Thailand. Wu Zewei told me that when mixing Thai tea, a certain proportion of spices are added to enhance the tea flavor and richness of the tea soup.
In short, the single “rich taste” makes it a happy water for a large number of young people.
2. Integrate fresh fruits to explore healthier and novel expressions
In the past, Southeast Asian drinks lacked advantages in product iteration due to the almost no use of small ingredients and few use of fresh fruits.
Recently, however, I have noticed that many stores that mainly promote “Thai style milk tea” have begun to “align themselves with new tea drinks” and match them with fresh fruits.
For example, Milkplus Thai milk tea, which focuses on “fruit Thai milk”, is a signature product called Duomang Mangtai milk, which is a mixture of fresh mango pulp and sago at the bottom of Thai milk, combining the sweet fruit with the rich Thai milk.
In addition to the classic Lao Iced Coffee, Thai Handmarked Green/Red Milk Tea and other products, Pattila has also developed new products such as “Thai Gardenia Fresh Orange” and “Thai Red Baixiang Fresh Orange” through the idea of “fresh fruit integration”.
A richer product line makes it easier to attract young people and generate repeat purchases. The integration of fresh fruits also gives the brand a label of “healthier and fresher” to some extent.
3. “Southeast Asia Vacation Replacement”, with great communication power
The “summer feeling” and “holiday style” represented by Southeast Asian drinks are also a scene expression.
In Little Red Book, the high-frequency words about Southeast Asian milk tea are “Come to Southeast Asia in a second”, “Become the heroine of Thai drama”, “Come on vacation quickly”, and so on.
After the release of epidemic restrictions, Southeast Asia tourism has become a hot topic. For young people who cannot immediately go out to play, a cup of Southeast Asian drinks is even more an alternative to experiencing a holiday in Southeast Asia.
4. By this year, the supply chain has also become more stable
The last advantage is that the supply chain end is now more stable and mature. The rapid development of new tea has shortened the time to improve the supply chain of niche categories.
I have learned that Batila has previously established a dedicated supply chain company to provide relevant services to Batila and other Southeast Asian catering brands, and has formed a relatively systematic process for purchasing and selling management.
The solution of supply chain issues is more conducive to product standardization.
4、 Conclusion
In the tea and beverage industry, there is a popular category every once in a while, but if the supply chain and repurchase rate issues are not addressed, the category tends to fall apart after its popularity.
There is no one way to win a store. Brands that have become popular with specific labels will inevitably undergo a long and lengthy process of “tearing off the label” if they want to “grow famous.”.

By orchioo

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