What do Heytea, Pepsi and Luckin Coffee have in common?

    Leveraging subcultures, star appeal and collectors items, beverage brands in China are in the collaboration spotlight this week.
    Dylan Wang has previously starred in Pepsi commercials. Image: Pepsi
      Published   in Lifestyle

    Coffee culture has established its own sought-after social capital over the years. As a result, artists frequently design limited edition packaging to attract social media attention, and fashion brands curating cafés has become the norm in China – Zegna opened one in Shanghai’s Taikoo Hui mall this month.

    This week’s brand collaboration spotlights from the mainland encompass the surging creativity of beverage brands. Pepsi China is potentially entering streetwear through Dylan Wang’s D Desirable brand, Luckin Coffee has unveiled a new artist collaboration to promote the return of its favorite prune drinks, and Heytea is hosting cycling rides with British bike favorite Brompton.

    Read on for our verdict on each of these co-branded developments, and subscribe here to receive these updates straight to your inbox every Tuesday.

    Pepsi China x D Desirable#

    Watch on YouTube

    Details: Collaborative collection, announced June 13, but release date and further details TBA

    Social context: D Desirable has 165,000 followers on Weibo and 147,700 on Xiaohongshu. On Weibo, Pepsi has over one million followers, and on Xiaohongshu #pepsi has 1.4 million reads.


    • By collaborating with 25-year-old Dylan Wang’s brand, Pepsi China leverages his significant fan base, especially among younger consumers. Wang’s previous associations with high-end brands like Louis Vuitton enhance Pepsi’s brand image, potentially attracting a more fashion-forward audience, too.
    • Pepsi’s higher market share in China versus Coca Cola can be attributed to its adeptness in tailoring marketing strategies to local tastes. Partnering with a popular Chinese celebrity like Wang reinforces this strategy, aligning the brand with local cultural icons and trends.
    • The lack of revealed details about exactly what the collaboration with Wang will be is creating a sense of anticipation and curiosity among netizens. This mystery can be a powerful marketing tool, driving social media conversations and keeping the brand at the forefront of consumer attention.

    Luckin Coffee x Yushan Fankuan #

    Chinese coffee company Luckin Coffee has more outlets than Starbucks in China. Image: Luckin Cofee Weibo
    Chinese coffee company Luckin Coffee has more outlets than Starbucks in China. Image: Luckin Cofee Weibo

    Details: “Drink Plums in Midsummer” art collection of packaging and accessories, June 17

    Social context: Yushan Fankuan (魚山飯寬) has 235,000 followers on Weibo and Luckin Coffee has over one million. On Xiaohongshu #Luckin Coffee (瑞幸咖啡) has 1.2 billion reads.


    • This collection artfully blends traditional Chinese cultural elements with modern coffee culture. This not only strengthens the Luckin Coffee brand’s identity, but also appeals to consumers’ appreciation for local art and heritage, differentiating Luckin Coffee in a crowded market.
    • By incorporating Yushan Fankuan’s artwork into the cup packaging and accessories for three prune drinks, Luckin Coffee creates visually appealing products that encourage customers to share their experiences on social media. This user-generated content serves as organic marketing, boosting the brand’s visibility and fostering a sense of community among its customers.
    • The reintroduction of the prune latte after 707 days, combined with the unique artwork, capitalizes on nostalgia and exclusivity. This strategic move not only rejuvenates interest in a previously popular product, but also leverages limited-edition appeal, driving urgency and increased foot traffic to stores as customers rush to try and purchase the newly branded drinks.

    Heytea x Brompton#

    Heytea joins Brompton, capitalizing on China's cycling craze. Image: Heytea Weibo
    Heytea joins Brompton, capitalizing on China's cycling craze. Image: Heytea Weibo

    Details: Three riding clubs: Chengdu (June 16) Shenzhen (June 22) Hangzhou (June 23). As well as limited cooperation cup covers and car stickers.

    Social context: Brompton has 43,000 Weibo followers and Heytea has 1.42 million.


    • Leveraging the unique strengths of both brands, Heytea is capitalizing on the growing cycling trend among the younger generation in China. The event promotes Brompton's social media presence, particularly on Xiaohongshu, where it directs fans for announcements of the rides, enhancing brand visibility and engagement among a broader audience.
    • The "Joy Cycling" event spans three cities, creating multiple touch points for consumer interaction. By incorporating exclusive items like limited edition cup sleeves and car stickers, the campaign encourages fans to actively participate and engage with both brands, fostering a sense of community and shared experience.
    • Heytea is aligned with health, fitness, and modern lifestyle trends popular among young consumers, while Brompton increases its China footprint.
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