Lay’s: Lay’s Connects With China’s Young Consumers Through Flavors


Campaign Summary

The Lay's "Find Your Flavor" campaign, in collaboration with Douyin, revolutionized the snack industry by employing an omni-influencer approach that resonated with young Chinese consumers. By tapping into the power of emotional storytelling and regional flavors, Lay's connected with over 200 million young migrant workers, driving a significant increase in sales and brand awareness. The campaign's unique mini-documentary series, celebrity cameos, and Douyin challenge generated billions of views, user-generated content (UGC), and a substantial following on Douyin, establishing Lay's as a leader in omni-channel marketing and demonstrating their ability to captivate consumers with purpose-driven content.



Every summer, Lay's released a new series of flavors. As part of its 2021 flavor launch, Lay's aimed to connect the taste of home with the 200 million young Chinese consumers who had relocated to different cities. Through this, Lay's aimed to increase sales and brand awareness.

Nowadays, star power alone is not sufficient to attract today's young Chinese consumers, who prefer content that delivers emotional value. Meanwhile, the competition among snack brands had never been fiercer. The demand for Chinese snacks continued to rise as consumers increasingly favored homegrown labels. Additionally, many global snack brands were rapidly developing new flavor ideas to cater to the changing tastes of consumers.

Therefore, for its 2021 flavor launch, Lay's needed to outsmart the competition by connecting with the regional taste preferences of China's more than 200 million young migrant workers.

Target Audience:

The brand's most vital target audience has always been generation Z. In 2021, as the pandemic persisted, China implemented nationwide travel restrictions, leaving numerous vulnerable young migrant workers stranded far from home and loved ones, intensifying their longing for home.

On the other hand, short video streaming surged during the pandemic, with 850 million active users, making it the top entertainment medium in China. Among all age groups, generation Z showed the highest interest in short videos, dedicating over 35 hours out of their monthly average video consumption of nearly 49 hours to short videos (Source: QuestMobile).

Creative Strategy:

Lay's leveraged the ability of food to evoke personal memories and a warm nostalgia for home by crafting six unique flavors: Roasted Oysters with Garlic, Crispy Grilled Fish, Cumin Lamb, Sichuan Spicy Chicken, Beer, and Old Pickle. Each flavor was inspired by one of China's different provinces.

To promote these new flavors, Lay's partnered with Bytedance, pioneering Douyin's (TikTok's) first-ever immersive short-video documentary series called 'Find Your Flavor.' This series was also the first-ever co-created content between Douyin and a brand, specifically targeting China's population of young migrant workers.


Previously, Lay's had relied on mega-celebrities to promote its summer flavor reveals. However, in 2021, the influence of celebrities over generation Z in China diminished. Key opinion leaders (KOLs) and key opinion consumers (KOCs), with their remarkable ability to engage with their audience, were perceived as more trustworthy and relatable than big celebrities, making them ideal brand ambassadors. Therefore, Lay's adopted an omni-influencer approach that harnessed the power of celebrities, KOLs, and KOCs as the stars of its series, each unique to and immensely popular in the region they represented.

Instead of relying solely on traditional TV commercials to convey the brand story, Lay's partnered with Douyin, becoming the first brand to co-produce a documentary series with the platform, highlighting China's generation Z and their most unforgettable hometown flavors, which directly inspired Lay's 2021 summer flavor launch.

By being the first to develop a co-production model with Douyin, Lay's also became the first brand to launch omni-channel marketing on the platform. This involved utilizing different functions and new technologies to increase brand awareness, consumer engagement, celebrity, KOL and KOC seeding, and Douyin store traffic to drive sales. With Douyin's data tools, the brand retargeted consumers who showed interest in the content with more relevant information about Lay's products, aiming to increase conversion ROI.


Overall Campaign Execution:

In the series, each episode featured one of China's top KOLs embarking on a journey home to explore the authentic flavors of their region, coincidentally aligning with one of the six new limited-edition Lay's flavors. While discussing their favorite foods, each KOL also shared their personal path to success and life ambitions, fostering a connection with the audience of migratory youth through purpose-driven content.

During these culinary journeys, the KOLs were joined by celebrity cameos who fondly reminisced about local flavors. In each episode on Douyin, viewers were encouraged to participate in the Lay's Douyin challenge, "Find Your Flavor," where they were invited to share their favorite hometown dishes along with their life stories and aspirations.

To promote the challenge, Lay's collaborated with hundreds of KOCs who created content on Douyin while searching for their own flavor.

Ninety percent of the total campaign budget was allocated to mobile platforms to fully utilize Douyin's omni-channel marketing ecosystem and maximize exposure.

Mobile Execution:

Lay's created a market-first by establishing an omnichannel ecosystem on China's largest mobile app, Douyin. This allowed Lay's to convert consumer engagement into sales by seamlessly combining ads, content, data, and eCommerce in a perfectly executed flavor launch campaign.

Throughout this partnership, Lay's capitalized on the Douyin feed to enhance audience awareness, relied on branded content and engagement models to boost brand impact, and leveraged Douyin's online store to drive sales. The Douyin official account was utilized to engage fans.

Key mobile execution strategies included:

  • Producing the first-ever mini-documentary series on Douyin, filling the platform with high-quality content that resonated with China's generation Z by highlighting their hometown flavors.
  • Initiating a Douyin challenge that invited users to share their hometown stories and favorite dishes from home.
  • Leveraging Douyin's extensive network of KOLs and KOCs to create an omni-influencer model, utilizing influencers not only as content creators but also as media channels to expand reach and increase media efficiency.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Before the launch of this campaign, Lay's faced intense competition from domestic and international brands. The pandemic and the emerging 'China Chic' trend, which saw Chinese consumers supporting homegrown brands, contributed to the rise of domestic snack brands in China's eCommerce market. At the same time, international snack brands were launching unique new flavors to gain wider attention.

By transforming regional cuisine into a celebration of heritage and ambitions, Lay's successfully connected with over 200 million young migrant workers across the nation with "Find Your Flavor." The campaign resulted in an increase in sales and top-of-mind brand awareness. Following the series launch, Lay's immediately rose to the second place in Douyin's brand voice chart, despite never having been featured before. The series, an industry-first, garnered a remarkable 4 billion views and inspired over 600,000 UGC videos through Lay's Douyin challenge. Additionally, Lay's gained over 800,000 followers on its Douyin official account.

Lay's pioneering 'Find Your Flavor' Douyin documentary series served as a highly effective engagement strategy to reach China's 200 million young migrant workers.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Instant Impact, Social/Influencer Commerce | Awards: X Global Gold Winner, X Global Silver Winner