One of the world’s largest coconut-water brands wanted to redefine their category in China by introducing an entirely new product range. Chinese consumers are turning towards healthier lifestyles, with 90% of consumers now drinking some form of plant-based beverage. Healthy, nutritional drinks like coconut water are now everywhere. The issue is how to differentiate in a market crowded with new competitors.

Our client’s category is clearly defined in western markets. Since the nutritional space is so new in China, however, TSI had to work to adjust the positioning and usage of the product range appropriately for local consumers. We did this through a range of randomized focus groups over several months. These groups tested for a vast range of issues, including naming conventions, category definitions and understandings, claims, benefits, and the all-important reasons to believe. TSI also explored tangential categories of nutritional, functional beverages to provide our client partner with a full-scope understanding of market opportunities.

Our proprietary approach resulted in an updated product range, pack design, and flavour profile unique to the mainland Chinese market. For The Silk Initiative, our key learning was providing our client partners with a holistic understanding of not only their space but also tangential spaces in China sets a critical foundation. Some clients feel they want to deep dive into just their own category. There are, though, so many adjacent spaces that can be just as illuminating. Keeping an open mind when it comes to China positioning, rather than plugging and playing western models, is the true key to success for this market.

Defining a New Format for a Popular Global Brand


Number 9, Lane 584 Middle Huaihai Rd, Huangpu District, Shanghai. PRC
Tel: (+86) 21 53098757

North America

Tom Sommers
Tel: (+1) 513 607 8136

Hong Kong
Washington, D.C.
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