Mixue Ice Cream and Tea, also known by its abbreviation MXBC, has transformed seemingly overnight from a humble Chinese dessert shop into a worldwide phenomenon. Those bright blue and white stores full of young people sipping tea and enjoying cones of soft-serve can now be spotted across China, the United States, Indonesia, Australia, Canada and beyond.
But what exactly is the story behind this rapidly expanding ice cream empire that‘s taking over street corners across continents? This in-depth guide will tell you everything you need to know about Mixue‘s incredible rise from local shop to global domination.
From College Project to Ice Cream Empire
Mixue‘s origins start in 1977 with a college student named Zhang Hongchao in Zhengzhou, China. As a young entrepreneur, Hongchao began selling shaved ice and other cool treats like milkshakes, sundaes, fried chicken and hamburgers out of a small storefront while completing his studies.
The fresh, creamy ice cream ended up being the star of Hongchao‘s menu. As business grew, he decided to focus entirely on perfecting his ice cream recipes and developing high-quality tea drinks as the perfect accompaniment.
Over the next decade, Hongchao worked tirelessly to expand the fledgling company. By 1986, Mixue opened its first ice cream factory, allowing the brand to produce its own ingredients and maintain quality control. The company‘s commitment to fresh, affordable ice cream and drinks made it a hit with college students and young people across China.
By the 1990s, Mixue had 6 ice cream factories producing over 10,000 tons annually. The chain rapidly expanded across mainland China, with over 50 locations by 1995. After developing a successful brand and supply chain within China, Mixue was ready to bring its ice cream worldwide.
The Global Mixue Franchise Boom
Mixue began franchising in the early 2000s, allowing entrepreneurs across the globe to open their own Mixue ice cream and tea shops with corporate support. This franchising model proved wildly successful, fueling Mixue‘s international expansion.
According to Mixue‘s website, the company hit a major milestone in 2013 by opening its 1,000th location. Just five years later in 2018, Mixue surpassed 2,000 stores worldwide. As of 2022, there are over 2,300 Mixue franchises operating globally across 17 countries.
Franchise fees are designed to be affordable compared to other food chains. Mixue does not charge promotion fees, design fees, or logistics fees. The current franchise cost in China is 370,000 Chinese Yuan, or around $55,000 USD. This low barrier to entry helped attract business owners and accelerated growth.
Mixue franchises can now be found in Indonesia (200+ locations), Singapore (70+), United States (50+), Australia (30+), and Canada among other countries. The brand has almost as many locations as McDonald‘s in parts of Asia. Mixue is continuing to expand, with stores constantly popping up in new cities.
Mixue‘s Menu – Ice Cream, Tea Drinks and More
Mixue‘s meteoric rise is fueled by its signature menu items – freshly made ice cream and high-quality tea drinks.
The ice cream selection includes classic vanilla and chocolate as well as monthly special flavors like matcha, mango and black sesame. Customers can order a single scoop cone, sundae, or quart to take home. Mixue‘s creamy soft serve is made daily in-store.
To complement the ice cream, Mixue offers a wide array of tea drinks. Customers can choose from milk tea, fruit tea, cheese tea, and other tea-based beverages. Popular options include classic milk tea, strawberry cheese tea, and avocado smoothies blended with tea. Drinks can be customized with toppings like flavored boba pearls, coconut jelly, grass jelly, pudding and more.
Beyond frozen treats, Mixue also serves snacks like waffles, toast, french fries, chicken nuggets, and fried mozzarella sticks. While ice cream and tea are the stars, these bites appeal to hungry shoppers.
No matter your craving, Mixue aims to provide high-quality yet affordable options in a relaxing, modern cafe environment.
Viral Memes & Global Fame
Mixue‘s explosive growth transformed the brand from a humble neighborhood shop into an internet phenomenon. As Mixue locations began popping up on street corners across China and beyond, the chain‘s expansion became a joke…then a meme.
The first viral posts poked fun at Mixue‘s sudden omnipresence, with tweets like "Why is there a Mixue on every corner now?" and "Mixue‘s coming for Starbucks!" This morphed into memes portraying Mixue as "taking over the world" by spreading everywhere.
On Twitter, user @ahnselca joked: "Mixue in Indonesia is like Seventeen in Japan. There‘s one in every corner!" This tweet earned over 13,000 views and 600 likes.
As Mixue memes increased, fans began creating their own Mixue content and art. Indonesian artist @ichigowarano drew an anime-style Mixue girl enjoying boba tea, earning 50,000+ views and 2,300 likes. Musicians even created Mixue song parodies, like one using the melody of Barney‘s "I Love You."
This online popularity introduced the brand to millennials worldwide. While once seen as a Chinese chain, Mixue is now recognizable across continents thanks to viral internet fame.
Behind Mixue‘s Global Appeal
Several key factors came together to turn Mixue‘s simple concept into such a worldwide phenomenon:
Mixue‘s sleek, modern store design and branding feel youthful and trendy. The minimalist blue and white logo pops. Mixue remodeled earlier locations to match this aesthetic as the chain expanded. This branding helped establish Mixue as a hip spot for young people.
By utilizing franchising for global growth, Mixue gave entrepreneurs a turnkey business model with corporate support. This allowed rapid expansion across cultures. Lower fees attracted high franchisee interest.
While known for ice cream and tea, Mixue has an extensive menu. Customers can customize drinks and sundaes exactly to their tastes with unlimited toppings and combinations. This personalization attracts return visits.
Digital Savvy Marketing
Mixue leveraged digital marketing and social media to appeal to modern youth. Viral memes and Instagrammable store designs spread brand awareness faster than traditional ads could.
Commitment to Quality
By owning its own ice cream factories and supply chain, Mixue maintains excellent quality control on ingredients. Customers trust the brand for fresh, delicious treats made in-house daily.
Mixue‘s combination of trendy branding, smart franchising, menu customization, viral marketing and commitment to quality perfectly positioned the company to thrive among global youth culture.
Experiencing the Mixue Craze In-Store
Stepping into a Mixue store provides an immersive experience into the brand‘s playful, minimalist world. Here‘s what to expect when you visit your local Mixue:
The sleek exterior features Mixue‘s signature royal blue signage and white walls. Step inside and you‘re greeted by friendly staff ready to take your order.
Pop music plays as you gaze at the colorful menu boards filled with ice cream flavors, tea drinks, toppings and snacks. It‘s tough to decide! The store centers around the ice cream counter, where staff freshly scoop the soft serve made in-house.
Behind the counter, workers deftly craft tea drinks to order, blending cheese foam, fruit purees, boba pearls and other toppings into signature Mixue beverages. You can watch your drink come together.
Ordering complete, you can take a seat at the modern tables and chairs to enjoy your treats. Mixue‘s urban, airy interiors cultivate a laid-back social vibe perfect for chatting with friends. A cone or two of ice cream here costs under $5 USD.
The Mixue experience balances simple pleasures – creamy soft serve, fruity tea – with an undeniably cool atmosphere. It‘s a tasty escape from the busy world outside.
The Future of Mixue
Mixue has come a long way from founder Zhang Hongchao‘s small ice cream counter in 1970s China. It‘s now a globally recognized brand with thousands of locations spanning 17 countries across North America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.
The company continues seeking new international expansion opportunities as well as developing new menu items to retain its competitive edge. Given its meteoric growth so far, Mixue seems poised to only increase its global domination in the years ahead.
But despite its incredible success, Mixue remains committed to the original mission – serving fresh, affordable, quality ice cream and tea. Mixue‘s balance of small town charm with cutting-edge cool has fueled its global retail takeover, one scoop and sip at a time.
So next time you‘re strolling through a city and spot that familiar blue and white storefront, stop in. Treat yourself to Mixue‘s mouthwatering flavors, top-notch tea drinks and inviting atmosphere. It‘s an experience worth savoring.