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Zhongxuegao company logo
FOOD & BEVERAGES | Dairy products
zhongxuegao.com

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Stage

Series A | Alive

Total Raised

$31.13M

Last Raised

$31.13M | 2 mos ago

About Zhongxuegao

Zhongxuegao is an ice cream and ice tube brand based in China.

Zhongxuegao Headquarter Location

Shanghai, Shanghai,

China

Latest Zhongxuegao News

Behind the success of Chicecream, China’s signature ice cream brand

Jun 25, 2021

Illustration by Alex Santafe In a televised interview in early June, the entrepreneur Lín Shèng 林盛 was asked to explain the exorbitant prices of his popular ice cream popsicle: the 66 yuan ($10) Ecuador Pink. “This is its price,” he said. “Take it or leave it.” Lin is the founder of Chicecream (钟薛高), a premier ice cream brand that has taken off in recent years. It is part of a cast of newly emerging Chinese consumer brands — such as HEYTEA and Genki Forest — that are challenging the older, more established Western processed food and beverage giants such as Coca-Cola in beverages and Häagen-Dazs in ice cream. But internet users did not appreciate the CEO’s arrogant demeanor. They dug into the company’s history, and found that it was twice fined in 2019 for misleading advertising, including falsely claiming that its ice cream contained zero water. One document stated that the “premium red grapes from Xinjiang Turpan vineyard” that the firm advertised were found to be raisins sold in retail, and the “internationally acclaimed aged cheddar” had not won international awards. Chicecream issued an official apology last Friday, but not before the criticisms of the brand went viral. By June 24, six hashtags about Chicecream were trending on Weibo, each garnering millions of views. But for Chinese companies, a controversy can be as much a certificate of success as a badge of shame. The rise of Chinese ice cream Founded in March 2018 in Shanghai, Chicecream deliberately bills itself as an authentic Chinese ice cream brand. Its Chinese name, Zhōngxuēgāo (钟薛高), is a homophone for “Chinese ice cream” (中雪糕 zhōngxuěgāo) in Mandarin. Because it’s not possible to register “China” as part of a trademark, “We came up with a homophonic mash-up of three Chinese surnames, Zhong, Xue, and Gao, to represent authentic Chinese identity,” said Lin (in Chinese). In design, the ice cream bar resembles a Chinese roof tile and features the character 回 (huí, “to return”). To cater to a young population that is increasingly health conscious, the company also promotes its ingredients as low-sugar, low-fat, and 100% natural. The brand gained traction from the get-go. In 2019, its first month of sales totaled 6 million yuan ($926K). Last month, the brand completed a Series A financing round of 200 million yuan ($30 million). During this year’s 618 shopping day, one of the biggest online shopping events in China, Chicecream ranked third in JD.com ’s ice cream category. The startup has sold close to 100 million ice cream bars thus far and boasts 2.15 million followers on its flagship Tmall store . The man behind the brand, Lin Sheng, is a 40-year-old history major with a background in advertising. After China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, Lin started his own advertising company in Shanghai. But he found his real passion to lie in the promises of the trend-obsessed, internet celebrity (wǎnghóng 网红) economy. The wanghong-driven ecosystem — through social media platforms like Douyin, Xiaohongshu, and WeChat — had successfully birthed such homegrown consumer brands as HEYTEA and Perfect Diary. Aware of the influence that key opinion leaders (KOL) had on young Chinese consumers, Lin focused on selling ice cream online, away from the brick-and-mortar retail shops. He invited KOLs from Xiaohongshu to taste-test the product, going as far as parking a van packed with ice cream bars in front of the Xiaohongshu headquarters, according to an article (in Chinese) on WeChat. A savvy entrepreneur, Lin didn’t choose ice cream at random. China is the largest market for ice cream in the world, with a market value of 150 billion yuan ($23 billion) last year, according to a 2020 industry report (in Chinese). Business in the morning. A lot happens in China’s economy when you’re sleeping. Luckily there’s SupChina A.M. – a free newsletter you can read in less than 2 minutes, delivered at 9am ET daily. Enter your email address

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