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15fen - Finding the Blue Ocean in China’s Fresh Food

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15fen- Finding the Blue Ocean in China’s Fresh Food

BY:Dr.Neeladri Verma

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Case 2 15fen- Finding the Blue Ocean in China’s Fresh Food

  1. What does the traditional Fresh Food market compete on? Please identify the important attributes that define the market behaviour.

The traditional Fresh Food market in China continues to evolve through urbanization and rising disposable incomes. While traditional wet markets are still present in China, they are increasingly meeting competition from modern grocery retail formats, such as hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores. 

The traditional fresh food market competes on:

Freshness of food: Chinese housewives were obsessed with buying fresh food at markets where they could see, touch and smell the food.

Price: The open/wet markets allows people to bargain and buy items from different stall after checking price and quality.

Attributes defining the market behaviour:

Evolving modern and urban lifestyles- Changes in peoples’ lifestyle Successful grocery retailers have been able to tailor their store format and product offerings that cater to local tastes of people. Prominent players include Foreign imports such as Walmart and Carrefour and local players such as Vanguard

Trends towards convenience, health and wellness, fresh foods and cost consciousness are all helping to determine the fresh food products available in grocery retail channels in China. It has been predicted fish, seafood and nuts will grow more quickly expanding at a rate of 68% and 87% (from 2015 to 2020) respectively.

The strategic location of the neighbourhood supermarket, which usually are at 10-15 minutes walking distance from respective residential areas, provides value for money solutions to the residents

The supermarkets sell the fresh food at a premium price as they offer good quality merchandise in clean, cool, and comfortable shopping environment.

Food safety concerns: Western products are often perceived as being safer and more reliable because of past food scares, such as tainted powdered milk, in the domestic market. A shift from buying fresh food from wholesale, wet, mobile morning or street vendors to buying fresh food at large supermarkets, having food items that are sorted, processed, packed with standardized quantities and prices

Product standardization and food labelling: Good quality food, labelled items giving good safety and health information such as origin, date packed, expiration date, storage requirements etc- reassure consumers about the safety and consumers do not mind paying premium price.

  1. What are the customer segments of Traditional Fresh Food market? What are the three-tiers of noncustomers? What are the pain points and preferences of three-tiers of noncustomers? 

Customer segments of traditional fresh food market are:

  • The housewives obsessed with buying fresh food at wholesale, permanent wet market, mobile morning market or mobile street vendors.
  • The older generation who prefer open/wet markets because of cost difference.

Three Tiers of noncustomers:

Tier 1: People who use Online platforms of traditional hyper/supermarkets, Consolidated Online Platforms and Vertical Online Platforms

Pain points:

  1. Items Ordered did not match online description
  2. Items not fresh
  3. Delivery not on time
  4. Prefer imported fresh food due to safety concerns

Tier2: Couples working in the large cities and living in the large scale residential complexes in the city or suburbs who go to supermarkets, hypermarkets or neighbourhood convenience stores for shopping.

Pain points:

  1. Time consuming task- difficult to find time out of busy schedule
  2. Shopping for fresh food has become an unplanned activity
  3. Prices are high at supermarts.

Tier3: People who don’t buy groceries e.g. single men working in big cities or students. Dine outside only.

Pain points:

  1. Cost of eating out every day is higher.
  2. Sometimes people just eat junk food, which are unhealthy options

  1. Use ERIC framework to identify the potential blue ocean for Fresh Food market.


  • Excess inventory- Use inventory concepts like Just-in-Time and other strategies to keep the displayed items as fresh as possible.
  • Customer’s Dissatisfaction – Use the data from surveys and keep the product descriptions accurate


  • Inconvenience in shopping at super-marts – Convenience and ability to order online, just visit the store and take away the required products
  • Pricing in products – Competitive Pricing to attract more customers
  • Delivery time – Keep delivery time as low as possible and stay within the promised delivery time


  • Unique shopping experience
  • Standardized design in stores’ template
  • Synchronization between offline and online
  • Managing the last mile logistics


  • Quality of fresh food products.
  • Convenience in shopping
  • Product varieties/categories

  1. Based on the analysis, evaluate 15Fen’s strategic progress overtime. Does its current strategy fit with your blue ocean propositions?

The strategy of 15fen is O2O which is the sum of online channel, neighborhood stores and a two-tier pricing model. In my opinion this strategy fits into the blue ocean and the target is Tier1 and Tier2 noncustomers of traditional fresh food market.

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