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Failure Case Study: Weetabix in China - An international expansion that failed to reach expectations

Failure Case Study: Weetabix in China - An international expansion that failed to reach expectations


Failure Case Study: Weetabix in China is part of GlobalData's Successes and Failures research. It examines the details of and the reasons behind the failure of Weetabix in China. It delivers the critical “what?”, “why?” and “so what?” analysis to teach you crucial lessons that increase your chances of launching successful products in the Chinese market.

In China, consumers tend to prefer hot breakfasts such as congee rather than cold ready-to-eat cereals. These breakfast habits are somewhat entrenched in Chinese culture, so challenging these views is always going to be difficult. However, the Chinese market represents a huge untapped area for Western breakfast cereals producers, and these brands are looking to revolutionise the breakfast habits of Chinese consumers, touting convenience, health benefits, and a trustworthy image.


  • The British breakfast cereal, produced in the UK since 1932, was put up for sale in January this year, just five years after the Shanghai based food group purchased the majority stake (60%) for £1.2bn back in 2012.
  • When Bright Food purchased a majority stake in Weetabix back in 2012, it had hoped to revolutionize the breakfast habits of Chinese consumers, touting convenience, nutritional benefits, a royal warrant and the fact that it sources all its wheat within fifty miles of its Burton Latimer factory in Northamptonshire.
  • The cereal company recorded some success in the market; however, the sale indicates that the brand has failed to obtain a significant market share in China.
  • Despite having a valuable product proposition, Weetabix has failed to truly immerse itself within Chinese culture, leaving the brand out of touch with Chinese consumers and their preferences.
Reasons to buy
  • Reduce the risk of failure by learning from brands/products that have under-performed: failed innovation can severely impact profit and reputation.
  • Understand the relevant consumer trends and attitudes that drive and support innovation success so you can tap into what is really impacting the industry.
  • Gain a broader appreciation of the fast-moving consumer goods industry by gaining insights from both within and outside of your sector.
  • Access valuable strategic take-outs to help direct future decision-making and inform new product development.

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Summary: Weetabix in China

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