United Biscuits and Alibaba Group collaborate to introduce British biscuits to consumers in China


United Biscuits (UB), a leading international manufacturer of biscuits, cakes and snacks, has officially opened its flagship e-commerce store for consumers in China on Alibaba Group’s Tmall Global platform.

The launch of the store is strategically timed to take place just before Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival on 11 November. This 24-hour sale is China’s annual shopping event that in previous years has outperformed Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the USA. In 2014, Alibaba generated USD 9.3 billion in gross merchandise volume during the 24-hour sale on 11 November alone.

China is a strategic market for UB. It is the fourth largest biscuit market in the world, despite biscuit consumption per capita being still only half the world average. UB launched its McVitie’s Digestives in China in 2012 via traditional retailers, and since introducing the brand to the market, Chinese consumers have taken a real liking to these wholesome British food icons.

Consumers in China recognise McVitie’s great tasting products and are willing to pay a premium for the high quality hygiene and food safety standards of UB imported products. The McVitie’s Digestive achieved the highest accolade by the International Taste & Quality Institute certifying its superior taste. In a bid to meet the growing consumer demand, UB is now putting increasing emphasis on e-commerce channels in China, in addition to its traditional retail business.

Marcel Willems, United Biscuits regional general manager Greater China, said: “China is a very important market for United Biscuits, and we have high expectations of our flagship store on Tmall Global. McVitie’s is an iconic British brand, and via our Tmall Global store, we are making the brand accessible to another 386 million potential consumers across China, who all now have the opportunity to buy the Original McVitie’s Digestives in British packaging, directly from the source. ”

Amee Chande, Alibaba group managing director, UK said: “Increasingly we see Chinese consumers searching for unique food items that represent a culture or lifestyle that they cannot find in China. McVitie’s are one such brand that have created a wonderfully British product that has the heritage and quality that the Chinese consumer is looking for.”

The launch of this store in China adds to existing e-commerce platforms in UB’s core markets opened for business earlier this year; The McVitie’s Sweeet Shop in the UK and the Delacre Mailbox in Northern Europe, which both offer the opportunity for personalisation of products at point of sale. This could well be a template for future developments of UB’s Tmall Global flagship store in China as well.