Lizhen Liu, head of packaged foods at JD FMCG told FoodNavigator-Asia: “Mooncakes are an essential element of the mid-autumn festival, an important traditional Chinese celebration for family reunion.”
This year’s mid-autumn festival fell in September.
According to JD’s data, the sales of mooncakes in the first two weeks of September was 1.52 times higher than that of the same period last year.
Variety in flavours
This year’s most popular mooncake flavours were the classic lotus mooncake with egg yolk, and milk and egg yolk.
The firm told us the mooncake brands that experienced rapid sales increase on JD this year included Beijing Dao Xiang Cun, Wu Fang Zhai, and Maxim’s.
JD held a Super Category Day for mooncakes on September 4, and sales of Beijing Dao Xiang Cun increased 100% year-on-year on that day.
The firm said customers had a preference for multiple flavours of mooncakes, where it said sales of mixed flavour gift boxes consisted about 48% of the total sales of mooncakes.
JD said another trend observed was the emphasis on healthier mooncakes. For instance, mooncakes that were lower in calories and sugar-free were popular this year.
Another relatively new concept was ‘artificial meat’ mooncake.
Vegetarian meat company Starfield recently launched its plant-based meat savoury mooncakes, developed together with the Beijing Technology and Business University.
The ‘minced pork filling’ was made from soy protein, which the firm said was closer in taste to that of normal meat, contained zero cholesterol, and had a lower environmental impact.
Through JD’s big data analysis on market trends and customer profile, it predicted that mooncakes sold in stylish Chinese culture themed packages would become popular.
This year, JD worked with Forbidden City to customise an exclusive gift box, which proved popular for gift giving.
In terms of price, JD’s big data found that there were not many gift boxes in the price range of 50 to 70 RMB (US$7-9.90).
So, it worked with Chinese pastry company, Suzhou Dao Xiang Cun to launch a gift box in that price range.
Liu said: “Our big data-driven consumer insights enables us to provide advice to our brand partners to tailor make their mooncake products to better resonate with our customers and boost sales.”
JD’s data also showed the number of off-site orders for mooncakes nationwide was 2.07 times this year than that of last year. Off-site orders were placed by individuals to deliver outside of their address.
This was attributed to the many people who were unable to spend the annual holiday with family and friends, hence gifting mooncakes through platforms like JD.
The firm reported that the fastest growing provinces for off-site mooncake orders were small and medium-sized cities, counties and rural areas like Jilin, Shaanxi, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Jiangxi.
However, larger cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong still placed the most mooncake orders. Elsewhere, sales growth in the North West and North East regions were picking up, especially in Jiangsu, Shandong, and Henan.