From Coca-Cola to coffee: How food and beverage brands are using Bilibili to attract Gen Z consumers

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

While short videos usually highlight the selling points of products, longer video content allows more information to be conveyed beyond just the product, and can be useful for brand building. ©Bilibili/雁鸿Aimee
While short videos usually highlight the selling points of products, longer video content allows more information to be conveyed beyond just the product, and can be useful for brand building. ©Bilibili/雁鸿Aimee

Related tags China Video Gen Z

Food and beverage brands are increasingly turning to Chinese video platform Bilibili to develop videos better catered to the country’s Gen Z audience, with many securing millions of views.

According to a report published by market research firm Nielsen and Shanghai-based online entertainment company Bilibili, Gen Z consumers in China are mostly relying on video to make food and beverage purchasing decisions. This opens up a new era of video marketing for brands, beyond traditional media advertisements.

In China, there are other long-form video platforms such as Tencent Video, Baidu’s iQiyi, Alibaba’s Youku, and Bilibili, while short-video platforms include Douyin and Kuaishou.

Any individual can create videos on Bilibili, and they are referred to as Up主 or uploaders. Many of these uploaders have innovative ways of telling stories.

Brands can choose to work with these uploaders, to help consumers better understand brand propositions, and help increase recognition and acceptance.

One example is Coca-Cola’s Fanta brand.

An uploader by the username of 狂阿弥 makes edible replicas of everyday products, such as a Fanta bottle, and films the whole process. His videos have amassed millions of views, with more 1.5 million followers.

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Another uploader called 雁鸿Aimee spent more than 300 hours recycling Fanta’s can packaging into a wearable crown.

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The same uploader has also made an elaborate armour costume from Three Squirrels nut shells. The video has more than 1.3 million views.

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According to Bassam Qureshi, Coca-Cola’s integrated marketing experiences director in China, any brand can always market to consumers directly, but in order to build a real connection with young people, it chose to pass concepts to these content creators on Bilibili who can come up with creative ways to satisfy their fans, at the same time, help build Fanta’s brand awareness.

In terms of engagement, comments from users appear on the video itself in real time.

Another brand, Shuanghui has worked with uploader 小熊绅士, known for his painting skills to market sausage products.

This uploader draws on existing packaging, and adds local elements to give users a sense of national pride.

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 (Left: Original. Right: 小熊绅士creation)

This is in line with the Nielsen and Bilibili report which revealed that 71% of Gen Z respondents are more likely to buy a food or beverage with Chinese localised packaging designs.

Another uploader 叶无趣 uses a painting technique to create an optical illusion on a beverage can from Master Kong (康师傅). The video has almost five million views.

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Coffee brand YongPu has worked with an uploader (是当归哦) who makes food vlogs with no dialogues. She makes a variety of foods and will incorporate brands products in these vlogs.

In the video featuring YongPu, it was viewed more than 190,000 times.

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Alienergy (外星人), an electrolyte water brand under Genki Forest worked with uploader 马哥健身厨房 where they react a scene from one of Wong Kar Wai’s movie, while filming in a gym. The selling point of the product which is the importance of electrolytes in sports nutrition are conveyed to consumers through the dialogue.

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Tap on programs and sales festivals

Besides working with individual uploaders, brands can tap on Bilibili’s other programs including concerts, events, reality shows to documentaries.

On the eve of the 6.18 sales festival in 2021, Chips Ahoy! (Chinese name: Quduoduo) cooperated with Bilibili to create limited gift boxes which was eventually sold out.

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Beverage brand Genki Forest sponsored Bilibili’s annual New Year Eve event in 2021, in a deal estimated to cost RMB100 million (US$15 million).

Other report findings

The report by Bilibili and Nielsen also revealed that Gen Z consumers look for food and beverage brands that convey health, safety, high quality, natural/environmentally friendly, and youthful/energetic messages.

It also found that 69% of Gen Z respondents surveyed were keen to explore and try new food and beverage products. This tied in with how Gen Z consumers were revealed to eat more convenience foods such as self-eating food and instant oatmeal compared to non-Gen Z people during the pandemic period.

Many of these convenience foods such as self-heating pots are new categories.

The report surveyed more than 1500 Gen Z respondents on their food and beverage consumption in 2021.

Bilibili is listed in Hong Kong and US and has 65 million users. Last year, it had 1.9 million content creators who were contributing more than 5.9 million videos each month.

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