Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jun 21, 2016

Cannes 2016: A cute complex can earn a nuts startup $100 million

Three Squirrels, one of only two Chinese startups speaking at the festival, revealed that super cuteness can be a superpower.

Cannes 2016: A cute complex can earn a nuts startup $100 million

CANNES - Guangyu Guo, the chief brand officer of online nut retailer Three Squirrels, claimed that his 4-year-old startup has already exceeded US$100 million in revenue.

How? By charming the millennial consumers of China with cute overload. "The Three Squirrels' superpower is their super cuteness," stated a voiceover in the startup's branding video. "You not only get tasty nuts, but love and happiness when squirrelised customer service staff say 'Wooooo, hello master!' to you!”

Members of the younger Chinese generation love anything cute and even talk in a cutesy way, said Guo, himself born in 1987, because most of them want to stay in a young state of mind. "They have a 'cute complex', and more than 70 percent of their purchases is directly influenced by cute brands".

More Cannes 2016 coverage

Three Squirrels has 20 million fans, and more than 60 percent of them are between 16 and 30.

"Think cute in order to dominate the snack-food category, especially online," said Guo. The brand has three cartoon-squirrel mascots, each with its own teenager personality. But it is not just about a light-hearted brand positioning, he said, but to be committed to just one target group, preferably a younger one, so that your brand can "grow up together" with them.

Guangyu Guo, Three Squirrels
Guangyu Guo, Three Squirrels

Campaign Asia-Pacific's take:

Guo's comments were part of a talk hosted by Netease Media, whose marketing general manager, An Li, said the company is "still a teenager in the internet industry", though it was founded in 1997. While Guo's comments were lively and engaging, attendees described the session overall as "a 25-minute credentials presentation for Netease". In general, Chinese companies need to step up on the international stage, understanding that a speaking opportunity is not a sales pitch but a chance to generate new ideas, present an opinion or provoke a conversation.

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