- Gordon Dumoulin
"The third place" for Chinese millennials going public...
𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢’𝘴 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘴
An ‘English pub’ in China went public at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange few weeks ago raising 300 million dollars. Helen’s looks like an English pub in many ways, beers, drinks and greasy snack foods but it’s definitely not marketed as typical bars in the Western world . Targeted at the millennials, it is labeled as the “𝗼𝗳𝗳𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺” and seen as "𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗿𝗱 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲” (not being at home or in the office/classroom).
Founded in 2009 by Xú Bǐngzhōng 徐炳忠 with a first pub in Beijing, Helen’s scaled up since 2018 and manages about 𝟱𝟬𝟬 𝗽𝘂𝗯𝘀 𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘄𝗶𝗱𝗲 today. Helen’s target demographic is college students and young workers. To that end, the company chooses locations near large universities in 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱- 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗿𝗱-𝘁𝗶𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀, which promise not only cheap rents but also a large and steady flow of millennial consumers.
No dance floors, disco lights, DJ’s or live music, Helen’s secret sauce is excellent service, a nice and cozy atmosphere, and not the least important affordable drinks and foods. Their 𝗼𝘄𝗻 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀 count for about 70% of the total sales such as Helen’s root beer, craft beer, fruit drinks or milk beer. Helen’s craft beer comes at about RMB 8-10 (USD 1.25-1.50). But also the Corona, Budweiser or other brands come much cheaper than other pub, restaurant or KTV outlets in China.
Helen’s is intensively using social media as promotion. Last year they launched the “Helen’s Coke bucket” promotion, offering a coupon to any customer uploading a short video on Douyin (Tiktok in China) while drinking the huge cola-whiskey bucket. The promotion was 𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄𝗲𝗱 𝟭.𝟮 𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲𝘀 and Helen’s Coke Bucket is now their signature beverage.
Helen’s ambitious, distinctive goal: being “the” physical gathering space for Chinese youth who want 𝙩𝙤 𝙚𝙨𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙚 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙫𝙞𝙧𝙩𝙪𝙖𝙡, 𝙤𝙣𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙨𝙤𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡 𝙢𝙚𝙙𝙞𝙖 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙚𝙨, being the standard for “offline social platforms”
Helen’ worth at the stock exchange is USD 3.6 billion and according to the prospectus, the operating revenues of Helen’s were $17 million, $86 million, and $125 million in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively. In 2020, it registered $11 million in profits.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘴....