CBME China 2024

17-19 July 2024 | National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC), Shanghai, China

| EN

Vegetable and Fruit Garden Empowers Mother and Baby Channels

On June 7th, the 28 stores of Kidswant in Nanjing initiated a “Million Battle.” As the name suggests, the target is set at a sales goal of one million yuan, and the core product sold in this battle is the home cleaning brand “Vegetable and Fruit Garden.”

As a leading national chain system, Kidswant has been deeply involved in the operation of the home cleaning category. For Vegetable and Fruit Garden, the first to venture into this area, this is clearly a landmark event.

Although from a theoretical standpoint, given the extreme match of consumer profiles and the characteristics of being “essential,” “fast-moving,” and “requiring low specialization for sales assistance,” the feasibility of the home cleaning category to become a key link in the full-family layout of the mother and baby stores no longer needs validation.

However, in terms of current store operations, stocking home cleaning products has not become a universal consensus among retailers. Even those who stock the products merely treat them as peripheral or traffic-generating categories, lacking sufficient emphasis.

Sun Wei, the director of the Vegetable and Fruit Garden’s mother and baby channel division, believes that the underlying issue is the cognitive bias and misunderstanding about the home cleaning category held by the end retailers.

Over the past year, what Vegetable and Fruit Garden has been trying to do is correct this wrong perception and rebuild recognition in partnership with the mother and baby channels.

This is the process of Vegetable and Fruit Garden “pioneering” in the mother and baby channel, as well as helping the mother and baby channel to rediscover the essence of retail.

Cognitive Bias in Dire Need of a Breakthrough

Cognitive bias is the biggest obstacle in the current deployment process of Vegetable and Fruit Garden’s mother and baby channel. This bias is mainly apparent in two areas.

First is the cognitive bias from the store management level.

During our market visits, we received feedback such as: on the one hand, although home cleaning products sell well, they are only occasionally used as traffic-generating items for promotions—they take up too much space and are cumbersome for sales assistants to handle; on the other hand, stores pay significant attention to product efficacy, and given the limited gross margin of home cleaning products, sales assistants prefer to focus on other categories like nutritional products.

Sun Wei believes that the first notion implies that stores equate home cleaning with laundry detergent, when in fact, home cleaning is a big track with an annual scale of 200 billion yuan, encompassing clothes cleaning, personal hygiene, kitchen cleaning, bathroom cleaning, disinfection, paper products, and cleaning tools.

The second notion indicates that stores still favor profit value while overlooking operational value. “The so-called operational value refers to the fact that home cleaning can attract a steady stream of customers and address the issue of customers not visiting the store, thanks to its essential, fast-moving attributes, good quality, and low prices. This operational value in the long run greatly exceeds the short-term visible gross profit,” Sun Wei tells us.

Second is the cognitive bias that resides on the store promotion and consumer mindset levels.

In the past, the consumer perception built by the mother and baby channels was that these are places that serve 0-3-year-olds. Even if stores have launched home cleaning categories, most consumers are unaware, and the stores do not know how to promote them effectively. This also leads to the situation where the arrival of home cleaning products does not bring the expected flow of customers and sales to the mother and baby stores, causing the stores themselves to doubt the value of this category. Therefore, helping stores to promote more effectively becomes the breakthrough point on the pioneering path of Vegetable and Fruit Garden.

Empowering Channels with a Combination of Tactics

Vegetable and Fruit Garden’s empowerment of channels is committed to delivering a combination of blows.

Sun Wei told us that, first and foremost, Vegetable and Fruit Garden will assist stores in establishing a dedicated area for home cleaning products, arranging the display of various products in this category, and equipping it with corresponding branding, which can catch consumers’ eyes as soon as they enter the store.

Second, they also planned two activities: membership purchases and traffic-driving cards.

Taking the membership purchase as an example, the core model revolves around shifting stores from passive customer-waiting sales to active sales, involving all position employees, including front desk and logistics, to participate in internal subscriptions.

The specific subscription amount is based on three points: the stock of existing customers; silent customers in the membership database whose children are over 3 years old and who no longer visit the store; and staff from street shops, as well as their friends and relatives.

“Based on these three points, employees will choose the quantity they want to subscribe to, and we will grade them, setting different cash reward amounts based on different subscription levels.”

Sun Wei told us that at the beginning of June, a system in Taizhou, Zhejiang did 430,000 yuan at an internal purchase event with 11 stores; a section of boys and girls in Yunnan with 28 stores set a goal of 500,000 yuan; while Kidswant plans to use 28 stores in Nanjing to hit the target of 1 million yuan.

As for the traffic-driving cards, they are divided into pre-sales and event-site activations. On-site refers to customers entering the store and, for example, spending 29 yuan to buy a traffic-driving card, which could get them 58 yuan worth of products on the same day; while pre-sale means consumers purchase the traffic-driving cards first and then visit the store with the cards on weekends or other specific event days planned by the store.

It’s important to note that the traffic-driving cards come with a voucher, and the entire activity does not only involve purchasing Vegetable and Fruit Garden products; it is more inclined for stores to use Vegetable and Fruit Garden to hold a marketing event.

“Through the traffic-driving cards, we provide stores with a tool to generate traffic. For example, if you pre-sell 1000 cards in a week, you have essentially locked in 1000 customers’ opportunities to visit and make purchases,” said Sun Wei.

It is through this combination of tactics – the dedicated home cleaning area, membership purchases, and traffic-driving cards, – that the actual sales results eventually materialize in stores, and the overall channel construction for Vegetable and Fruit Garden accelerates.

And in Vegetable and Fruit Garden’s initial plan, the aim is to first take over the national or regional leading chains, to activate a product in every store entered, and through the leading chain systems, create models, establish benchmarks and examples, after which the whole industry will naturally follow.

“Currently, we have completed the deployment in leading chain systems of every province and municipality; at this stage, we are also negotiating with some large systems of national influence. Kidswant and Baby Room have already reached the cooperation implementation stage,” Sun Wei shared.

Returning to the Essence of Retail

The essence of retail should be value, and mother and baby retail should return to the essence of business. This is a principle that Sun Wei always adheres to.

In Sun Wei’s view, the previous mother and baby store format had an obvious disconnect between consumers and actual users – mothers were buying, but babies were using the products. However, for mothers, they are themselves consumers who need attention and decision-makers for the entire family’s consumer goods; they have many direct consumer needs that can be satisfied.

“When you blindly pursue profit, but do not provide value to consumers or the industry’s development, even if you are successful today, it will be difficult to go far.”

Although in business terms, for Sun Wei, the reason Vegetable and Fruit Garden is so focused on promoting the mother and baby channel is not just to sell laundry detergent or home cleaning supplies. The aim is to establish a new category – home cleaning – with the mother and baby channel and thereby create operational value for the channel.

Sun Wei candidly stated that last year, with the official start of the nationwide recruiting for the Vegetable and Fruit Garden’s mother and baby channel, he was also traveling very frequently. Every time he returned from a trip, his colleagues would ask him what he was busy with, and he would jokingly say, “I’ve been acting like a madman.” As Sun Wei put it, “Changing oneself is divine, but trying to change others, one becomes a madman.”

However, this year, as Vegetable and Fruit Garden collaborates with more and more systems and as both channel and consumer recognition continue to be reshaped, Sun Wei can noticeably feel that the state of his trips has changed, negotiations have become easier, and more and more people have a clearer understanding of home cleaning entering the mother and baby retail endpoints.

“We are very hopeful to see, in 1-2 years, a new dedicated position in mother and baby chains called home cleaning purchaser.”

And now it seems, that day is no longer far off.