Our reporter Yang Tianyue

  One promotion seems to be stalled, while another is on fire.

Yesterday, Kudi Coffee, which has 7,000 stores worldwide, announced the start of a three-month "9.9 unlimited sales promotion", continuing to set off a "price war."

Facing China, the “world’s largest branded coffee shop market” that market agencies call “surpassing the United States”, Luckin and Cudi once quickly gained market share at a discounted price of less than 10 yuan per cup, but as The "9.9 yuan" campaign is shrinking day by day. Luckin, which has surpassed Starbucks to become the largest coffee chain brand in the Chinese market, is no longer "in love with fighting" and has re-consolidated its price system.

There are fewer cheap coffees at 9.9 yuan

  “The 9.9 yuan Ruixing is gone.”

After going to work at the beginning of the new year, many consumers found that Luckin Coffee coupons have shrunk significantly.

On February 20, Ms. Liu, a loyal user, planned to have a cup of Luckin as usual, but found that a frequently drank coffee of 9.9 yuan had returned to its original price of 20 yuan.

  In the following days, Ms. Liu tried to order at three Luckin Coffee stores near the company, and found that the use of 9.9 yuan coupons in different stores and different products had changed.

For example, the toffee hazelnut thick milk latte that she had ordered the most before suddenly could not be used with coupons at the store in front of the company, but it could be used at a store 1 km away; the store where the coupons could not be used that day could be used again a few days later. .

So Ms. Liu's recent coffee shopping is like "guerrilla" - browsing every store and choosing the cheapest one.

  Not only Ms. Liu, but also many consumers posted screenshots of their purchases at different times on multiple social platforms and said "Luckin has become more expensive."

  This round of price war did not last long.

In the first half of last year, Kudi issued multiple rounds of 8.8 yuan and 9.9 yuan coffee coupons. Luckin announced in June that it would provide 9.9 yuan coffee coupons and stated that this activity would be "normalized."

Although users in many places have begun to report that coupons have shrunk and the types of cheap coffee have become smaller, Luckin told reporters yesterday that "the 9.9 yuan discount is still normal."

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  Luckin’s rival Cudi is still promoting high-profile products.

Yesterday, Kudi Coffee launched a three-month "Unlimited Good Coffee for All 9.9" campaign. Except for a few stores such as transportation hubs and tourist attractions, all drinks in other stores are on sale for 9.9 yuan, regardless of category and quantity.

  One side is advancing bravely, while the other side is retreating and forming a network?

Under a series of expansion strategies, Luckin's total sales in the Chinese market will reach 24.86 billion yuan in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 87.3%, surpassing Starbucks China to become the largest coffee chain brand in the domestic market.

And its latest financial report data shows that its new trading customers will exceed 95 million in 2023, setting a record high.

In the fourth quarter, revenue from self-operated stores was 5.103 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 89.2%; revenue from joint-operated stores was 1.764 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 109.1%.

  However, its fourth-quarter profit growth fell by 8 percentage points year-on-year as large discounts squeezed profit margins.

Although Ruixing said in its financial report that it was "in line with the company's expectations," the "shrinkage" of coupons was also interpreted by the industry as a signal that the company was trying to change its competitive strategy.

  Coffee brands take a fork in the road

  According to media reports, the latest report released by the research organization "World Coffee Portal" on December 13 last year showed that in the past 12 months, the total number of Chinese coffee brands' stores worldwide surpassed the United States for the first time, with 49,700 stores. Number one.

Among the approximately 18,000 Chinese coffee brand stores expanding in the global market, more than 11,000 new stores are from Luckin and Cudi.

  In the past year, Cudi has grown rapidly with its low-price expansion strategy.

According to its chief strategy officer Li Yingbo, the company has initially completed store layout and scale improvement and reached a cost inflection point.

  "China's coffee market is still in its infancy. We will maintain sufficient patience and endurance to deeply explore the market and grow together with the industry." Li Yingbo said.

  But domestically, the greater competition lies not only in price wars, but also in the sinking market.

According to statistics, as of the end of 2023, the number of Ruixing stores in China has reached 16,218; as of yesterday, the total number of Kudi stores has reached 7,000.

  Luckin is shifting the battlefield.

In order to increase the number of stores, Luckin announced a targeted franchise model.

Its chairman and CEO Guo Jinyi bluntly stated in the earnings conference call that in 2024, Luckin will continue to increase the number of stores in first-tier cities and accelerate the expansion of lower-tier markets through the intermodal model. It is expected that the number of Luckin Coffee stores will exceed 20,000 in 2024. Home.

  Industry analysts believe that in the long run, the sinking market will bring exponential growth to China's coffee market capacity. However, as short-term price wars continue and a large number of coffee stores emerge, competition in the sinking market will intensify.

“The emergence of new brands and discounts can easily aggravate the risk of diversion of consumers in sinking markets.” Lai Yang, chief expert of the Beijing International Trade Center Research Base, believes that after quietly changing his style of play, Luckin, the “biggest coffee brother”, still has a lot of potential. Long way to go.