Making leaps: White Rabbit ice-cream brand reveals expansion strategy for South East Asia

By Si Ying Thian

- Last updated on GMT

White Rabbit candy ice-cream © Hao Food
White Rabbit candy ice-cream © Hao Food

Related tags Innovation New product development Marketing Quality control

The Singapore distributor of the iconic Chinese brand White Rabbit’s ice cream is looking for partnerships to provide a marketing boost in South East Asia, while also aiming for expansion across the region, providing its quality control objectives can be met.

Hao Food is the official distributor for White Rabbit candy-flavoured ice-cream in South East Asia, where it launched in Singapore in 2021.

The product seeks to capitalise on the “familiar flavour​” of the nostalgic candy as an ice-cold treat for Singapore’s tropical climate. It was a brainchild of the collaboration of Bright Dairy and Shanghai Guan Sheng Yuan Food – the manufacturer of the candy brand.

In terms of developing the White Rabbit products, we always need to be very careful and sensitive in how we communicate with the principal - our parent company in Shanghai in China, which we have a good relationship with.

White Rabbit ice-cream cup © Hao Food

We will communicate about our customers, target audience, and what they’re looking for, with the parent company [as] they are very receptive and sensitive to understand the South East Asian markets. We do have a lot of positive communication and influence over this and I'm looking forward to more of that in the future,​” Lydia Kuan, Director of Hao Food, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Currently, the ice-cream is distributed in Singapore in 113 supermarkets, as well as in China. Kuan said that Hao Food is considering distributing the product on food delivery platforms, such as foodpanda and GrabFood.

In Singapore, Hao Food first rolled out its popsicles in only two flavours – original and peanut nougat. With good feedback from sales, they subsequently launched the cup version in 2022, offering more flavours such as matcha, red bean, plum and chocolate.

Where tradition meets innovation

The traditional brand is most familiar to its older customers, but Kuan recognised that its ageing customers may be more health-conscious and have accounted for that in its product development.

The original White Rabbit candy popsicle is about 100 calories per serving.

At the same time, Hao Food is capitalising on brand collaborations and marketing activities to “inject more energy and vibrance to the brand​” to appeal to younger consumers, such as launching White Rabbit merchandise such as tote bags, pillows, and enamel cups, and through social media engagement on Tik Tok.

White Rabbit collaborated with Coach on a collection spanning handbags, jackets and pants © Coach

Kuan added that brand collaborations is not something new to the White Rabbit brand. White Rabbit in China had previously partnered with Coach, as well as had an ice-cream crossover with Godiva Chocolatier.

For the Singapore distributor, their brand collaborations centre around complementing their product with dishes offered by local cafes for a limited period. For example, Keong Saik Bakery recently collaborated with the brand on a Valentine’s Day menu item for February, rolling out a White Rabbit ice-cream cruffin and White Rabbit ice-cream affogato with matcha or espresso.

Expansion strategy

Hao Food has also outlined plans for expansion in South East Asia, with inquires coming from Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

However, Kuan emphasised on the need for Hao Food to play a strong supervisory role to maintain the quality and authenticity of the product.

We are very particular and sensitive to QC to make sure that we are there to supervise and to watch the production.Moving forward, if we are going to partner with any other companies or confectionaries in the region, we would most likely be setting up our presence - our own company - to supervise.

“I think that's a major step of what we promised the parent company that we would do to supervise and to be on guard for them as well, you know, to make sure the quality is under control. And they always know exactly what we're doing.”

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