USMEF is testing promotions for U.S. red meat through group-buying models that have proliferated in China during the pandemic. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the pandemic accelerated the overall frequency of online purchases by more than 70%. Two-thirds of Chinese consumers buy groceries online at least once every two weeks. While the rate is highest (75%) in the Tier 1 cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but the recent shift toward online buying is most pronounced in Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities.
Group buying models generally are implemented through mobile based social media applications such as WeChat, a messaging and calling app which claims more than 1 billion users in China alone. Through one such model, group-buying initiators promote deals directly to buyers in WeChat groups. When a minimum number of buyers sign up for the offer, the leader negotiates the purchase from the vendor, often for a discount, the deal is confirmed and merchandise is sent to the buyers.
With funding from Texas Beef Council, the Beef Checkoff Program and United Soybean Board, USMEF partnered with four distributors in Shanghai for promotions of U.S. beef and pork through group-buying initiators on WeChat. U.S. food safety standards and the USDA grading system were highlighted and several different cuts of U.S. beef and pork were promoted to buyers.
USMEF also produced six cooking videos for viewing through WeChat accounts, key opinion leaders and TikTok.
“Sales were promising and the group-buying initiators were satisfied with the results and indicated interest in further promotions with U.S. beef and pork,” says Ming Liang, USMEF marketing director in China. “We will continue exploring group-buying opportunities for U.S. red meat.”