Australian milk featured at Alibaba’s Smart Milk Station in China

In line with Chinese internet giant Alibaba’s ongoing efforts at innovation in new retail technologies, college students enjoyed an unprecedented and new experience in how to add Australian-imported milk to one’s diet at a university in Hangzhou earlier this month.

Alibaba has not only been instrumental in creating Hangzhou’s now highly developed internet economy, but has also helped the Zhejiang provincial capital prosper in the new retail sector, a sector that is fully reliant on the internet.

The event, hosted by Tmall Juhuasuan, an Alibaba business unit, in partnership with Tmall International, the internet firm’s popular B2C platform, witnessed the creation at a university in Hangzhou of a unique smart milk station modelled on the look and feel of a conventional roadside gas station. The site, designed to heighten interest in milk as a product that should be a part of everyone’s daily diet, is the first such new retail milk station worldwide.

At the 300 sqm milk station, college students received recommendations on the type of milk that meets their requirements after taking a quick quiz to determine preferences. Brands included Nestle, Freedom, Fonterra and Tmall International’s direct-sale brands Maxigenes and Devondale.

After adding milk, students had a go at winning at the onsite hammer game, akin to those seen at fun fairs, and receive the officially certified “milk power value”. Those with the higher milk power value can upload his or her photo onto the screen, and become the spokesperson for the milk station.

The event attracted many college students and other passers-by who enjoy games of competition and are passionate about expressing themselves. “I am the best at adding milk to my diet.”

The purchase experience is fully in line with what is referred to in Chinese as the “regimen”, especially the fancy “punk regimen” popular with the country’s millennials: staying up all night, drinking the most expensive milk, eating calcium tablets while drinking cola and using the eye-protection green wallpaper available on mobile phones for playing games in the middle of the night.

According to a big data analysis by Alibaba, the millennials, and especially those of college age, prefer choosing the rich-tasting, high-nutrition and easy-to-brew Australian-imported milk powder as a dietary supplement to keep oneself feeling energised in the midst of a busy, and often nerve-racking, academic life.

Based on Alibaba’s big data analysis, the creative team behind the project first analysed the shopping behaviour among adult milk powder consumers. With an understanding of the psychology of China’s millennials, the team spread news about the event far and wide, experimenting with different approaches to what is referred to as “new retail”. Having identified dairy products imported from Australia as a good fit, Juhuasuan teamed up with Tmall International to recommend products to specific consumers using various novel approaches, kicking off a series of promotions and other types of campaigns.

The smart shelf monitors selections made by shoppers in real time, quickly processing the information in order to make on-the-spot recommendations as the shopper moves through the aisles, while perfecting the logistics of the sales process to maximise the quality of the shopping experience. These efforts allowed the Juhuasuan smart milk station marketing event to successfully complete the closed loop combining online and offline sales.