Chinese coffee giant Luckin Coffee, currently embroiled in a storm over falsified sales figures, has been propelled to the top of the downloaded apps charts as consumers rush to cash in on free drinks.
The scramble to download the coffee giant’s app has made it the second most popular in China, according to TechCrunch. The app normally ranks between 70 and 100 in app charts, but in the past few days daily downloads have rocketed from around 45,000 to almost 325,000.
The most widespread view on social media is that consumers are eager to cash in now vouchers for free or pre-paid drinks (a central part of the brand's promotional activity) rather than wait, in case the company hits the rocks.
The coffee giant’s stock plunged over 80%, wiping out more than $80 billion in market value after it announced last week that it was investigating alleged wrongdoing by its chief operating officer and others who are said to have made up sales worth around $310 million last year. The allegation is that this was an attempt to boost the company’s value in the year of its IPO.
Before the announcement, the brand had been touted as a competitor to Starbucks within China and had already overtaken the US giant in number of outlets operated in the country, according to InsideRetailAsia.
The financial storm may have spooked investors, but many consumers perhaps less so. FastCompany reports that much of the buzz on Weibo about the brand consists of people encouraging the chain to stay in business, as they want to use their coupons.
And a Beijing resident told Reuters, “I’m not that into coffee but it would be a pity to lose the chance for a free drink. After all, you don’t know how much longer Luckin can hold on.”
The brand’s app boost doesn’t disguise its uncertain future, however. Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs said it would seize and sell shares in the company owned by its chairman after he defaulted on a $518 million margin loan.
Sourced from TechCrunch, Inside Retail Asia, Fast Company; additional content by WARC staff