Mobike Opens Themed Restaurants In Partnership With Wagas

摘要: Recently, Chinese shared bike industry leader Mobike announced to partner with restaurant brand Wagas café to set up mobike themed restaurants. The pair has already opened Mobike Wagas restaurants in some major cities in China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen etc.

(Chinese Version)

Recently, Chinese shared bike industry leader Mobike announced to partner with restaurant brand Wagas café to set up mobike themed restaurants. The pair has already opened the Mobike Wagas restaurants in some major cities in China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen etc. Not long ago before Mobike’s announcement, JD’s CEO Richard Liu officially announced that JD will set up one million convenience stores in the upcoming five years. It seems all of sudden, shared restaurant and shared convenience store have also become a hot trend for the capital to pursue. It’s exciting to think about what would be the next hot trend in the sharing economy.

Wagas is trending

Without a doubt, Wagas has garnered a great deal of attention with its cooperation with Mobike. Mobike has always been a company that bears great social responsibilities and an influential brand image. Mobike offers a greener and more convenient short-distance commuting alternative. Its stationless shared bikes allow users to park anywhere and anytime when they finish commuting. Users are no longer restricted by parking stations and the lack of shared bikes around. This innovative model makes Mobike a constant hot topic in both the business world and on media.

The cooperation with Mobike helps Wagas gain more PR opportunities, which proves to be an incredible useful branding resources for Wagas. Wagas took up this opportunity to expand in China quickly, realizing its brand value, increasing its company valuation and company scale all at the same time.

But is Wagas and Mobike’s themed restaurant a fitted cooperation in terms of their brand value? Do they share common targeted audience? Will they produce maximum value?

Wagas and Mobike’s brand positioning, brand culture and targeted audience

Wagas and Mobike’s brand positioning and brand culture

Wagas is a chain restaurant that serves western food such as sandwiches, pasta, salad, cake, fresh juice, and coffee etc. It’s founded in Shanghai in 1999 and wants its customers to “eat well, live well.” Wagas provides a dynamic dining environment that is suited for both quick business lunch and lazy long afternoon tea, targeting both local Chinese and expats. At a Wagas restaurant, Chinese diners can experience western culture and fashion.

Mobike, on the other hand, is a shared bike provider that helps people with short-distance commuting in the city. Mobike’s stationless bikes help ease the congestion and reduce environmental pollution.

According to Mobike, its bikes are expected to function without repair for four years in ideal state. The bikes are produced with SC-7000 aluminium alloy, which is a frequently-used material in aviation with a strength of extension of 650mpa. The bikes are equipped with plastic-stuffed non-pneumatic run-flat tires. Mobike also uses KMC bike chain and installs the bikes with GPS device and sensors, as well as SM card. Mobikes are incredibly cool just to look at. Users can unlock the solar-energy powered smart locker on the bike via a scan with their smartphone. Mobike charges its users ¥1 per 30 mins, which proves to be highly competitive in the market.

Wagas generally chooses robust CBDs to set up its restaurants, including Beijing’s Sanlitun, Kerry Center and ViVa Beijing, and Shanghai’s Grand Gateway, Jinqiao, Hongqiao airport, Kerry Center, and Lujiazui etc. Wagas chains are all decorated in gray and white colors, which is quite mainstream in the west. The tables in Wagas are coffee brown, radiant with warm and cozy atmosphere. Wagas chains also offer vast dining space. In comparison, Mobike is just, mobike, without a set operation space.

Wagas and Mobike’s pricing and targeted audience

Wagas is not a cheap place to go for quick meal. Its cheapest single order is still ¥32 and the customers of Wagas spend ¥60 to ¥70 on average at Wagas. The profile of Wagas’ customers is successful individuals with an annual income of ¥80,000, company leaders, entrepreneurs, or blue collars with high income. The customers are usually under 40 and labeled as foodies who love fashion, traveling and brand names. They don’t hesitate to spend money on expensive things. And they generally commute by taxi or own a car.

In contrast to that, Mobike only costs ¥1 per 30 minutes. Mobike solves the last mile situation and caters to users who love biking and exercise. Its use scenarios include subway stations, bus stations, communities, and work places etc. Its users are mainly under 30. They are labeled as young people who love fashion and biking, and who relatively save money. In other words, they are more of the low-end market customers. In this case, Mobike mainly serves white collars and students.

Mobike’s market and user mentality

At present, the bike sharing market is still in its early phase as the industry is still booming and needs time to mature. To date we have leaders like Mobike, ofo etc. Ofo, as the second leading brand, is in fact very close to Mobike in terms of scale and influence. On March 1st, ofo announced to have completed its D round financing at $450 million, invested by DST, Didi and CITIC PE, Coatue and Atomico etc.

It’s still early to predict who will be the last one standing. The government’s following policies also create uncertainties for the industry. If Mobike fails, the themed restaurant will face great challenges.

Mobike was founded two years ago and only entered the market for one year. It’s brand image is still rather unclear to the public perception. Is is a commuting alternative, a disruptor? The lack of clear brand image results in the lack of user trust and user retention.

Wagas and Mobike’s targeted audiences don't match each.

According to the analysis above, Mobike and Wagas’ targeted audience do not share the same profile. Let’s look at how the themed restaurant works first. The themed restaurants feature bike elements, such as bike tables, bike-themed drinks and meals etc. The restaurants are decorated with Mobikes’ parts.

I have personally interviewed 20 Mobike’s users, all under 30, about whether they would like to go to the themed restaurants. The result is: eight showed interest in going to the restaurants to try out new stuff, four expressed that they like bike elements and would like to try, three said no and stated that the pricing is high, five were not sure and said they prefer car elements.

The survey results above are not complete and enough to draw a conclusion, but still they indicate a few elements that affect customers’ decision:

Firstly, every user has his or her own interest, and the decoration style, or in this case, the theme, could be an important factor that affects consumption decision. For example, girls tend to like going to cat cafés. So how many people would Mobike theme attract? The reality, people would prefer fancy car themes. It would really take us some time to observe the progress of Mobike themed restaurants.

Mobike Wagas costs customers ¥60. And what is the main interest of the restaurant’s targeted audience? Is it bike? It remains unknown so far.

The danger of extending brand strategy

The extension of brand strategy includes ecosystem product line, brand output and channel.

1. The extension of the ecosystem product line. For most companies, they would only consider extending its ecosystem after they have acquired innovation ability and certain market share. An ecosystem product line adjusts according to the user profile, demand and relevant product lines in the industry. Ecosystem is not all about profit, survival, or power.

For instance, Qihu 360 originally started as a computer virus defender and later developed its ecosystem of products. Tencent too started from QQ and have today’s lines of businesses.

Currently, Mobike’s main income comes from user deposit and use charge. We can pretty much say the startup is still in the survival phase where the company relies on financing to expand and is still not profiting yet. There is still a long way for Mobike to go. We really need more time to see if it would transform into a big company like DIDI that later developed an ecosystem. Mobike’s business model and potential must endure the competition from its rivals. The company on the other hand needs to continue to improve its innovation ability and fit into the market.

Mobike doesn’t have a physical business mode, an ecosystem, or profit. In this case, it’s very dangerous for it to go cross-sector.

2. When a company is getting its brand out in the market it means the company has garnered certain influence in the market, showing strength in sales, user base, user loyalty, market scale, channel capacity, capital power, repurchase rate and innovation etc. Companies channel their brand names to not only expand the scale, but also integrate resources, upgrade profit model and strengthen their brand names.

For example, JD has recently announced to open one million convenience stores in China, integrating and utilizing all the fragmented resources, which are private convenience stores, in China to build up the image.

Up till now Mobike remains the top force in the industry, accounting for 70% of the market share. It qualifies as a popular star company. However, popularity doesn’t always equal influence. A company’s influence lies in its impact on user mentality, loyalty and recognition. That said, an influential company must possess powerful strength in innovation, business model and patents. It should be a leader that others follow. Only then it’s qualified as an influential company.

However, Mobike, the top leader in the industry, hasn’t made that far yet. In addition to that, it’s unsure if mergers and acquisitions would appear in the future, whether the users will pay for the lifted price after the subsidy war, would building a platform or building an ecosystem be a better strategy, will shared cars beat shared bikes, will the government intervene, and what is the future for public city bikes? There are just too many uncertainties. Mobike is facing incredible life or death challenges now, it’s impossible for it to make major moves to do any big cross-sector business.

3. Channels are a brand symbol as well. When the company has the ability to build up and integrate supplier and retailer channels and experience on retailing, it will be able to cash in through channels. Such company can divide the profits with its brand partners. Unfortunately, Mobike is not quite there yet.

Perhaps it’s still too early to say whether this themed restaurant idea would succeed or not. We would need to wait and observe for another two years.

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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Luo Huangbao, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.

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