Mar 10, 2019 No Comments by

Even though domestic spirts are still the dominating spirit (mainly Baijiu) on the Chinese market, the spirits market in China is opening up to new international brands and Chinese people are more and more craving new tastes in terms of drinks. In 2016 China was hosting the world largest spirits drinks market (both in size and value).

The importation of alcohol and spirits in China have been growing by 27% in 2017 driven by the growing middle class in China and the increasing purchasing power. This trend is also led by the generation of young wealthy buyers, they are picky and want the best even if it means paying high prices. They are fond of luxury products, traveling, and more than anything else: uniqueness.

How are Chinese buyers choosing what alcohol they buy?

Because of their culture, Chinese people are highly influenced by what people may think of them. This is the reason why they want to look good, they want to show that they have a good lifestyle. Therefore, they are most likely to buy imported spirits over local alcohol because they are more expensive.

What may also influence their choice is the quality of the spirits. Indeed, because China is infested by fake alcohol, buyers would rather choose the quality of imported products.

 Why is the market interesting?

Even if the market is full of opportunity only two percent represent international brands. Because the market might seem difficult to penetrate very few brands tried entering it. Which leaves big space for new entrants!


How to launch your spirit brand on the Chinese market?

-Go digital

Not only the e-commerce industry in China is one of the most powerful in the world, but the Chinese tech industry also built its own digital ecosystem. Which left very small space to foreign apps/websites.  If you want to reach the Chinese consumers you must create a special digital strategy, adapted to the Chinese market.


-Wisely choose your shop platform

Launching a brand in China leave you with quite a lot of options among others: cross border e-commerce platform like Tmall, Taobao and JD, they are interesting in terms of traffic, but because a lot of brands are already performing pretty well it might be difficult to attract Chinese users on your products.

You can build your own website, which makes you in control of everything, from content to design. However, driving traffic and convert in sales might be difficult because Chinese love Tmall and Taobao because they know that the whole process is secure. You will have to gain their trust first.

You can also create your own shop on WeChat mini-programs, which is easier for controlling your content, however, you will have to make sure that your program does not exceed 2 megabytes capacity because WeChat wants to ensure the fluidity and quickness of the pages’ loading.


-Play with Chinese Social Media

Chinese netizens are very special, they are particularly receptive when it comes to social media. Don’t be afraid to be creative and engage them in your campaigns.


-Work on your SEO

If you want to raise awareness you will need a strong SEO strategy, if Baidu is a search engine just like Google, the way both works is radically different. You will need to adapt to the characteristics of the Chinese search engine and its algorithm.

Case Study: SMA SHOTS

SMA SHOTS is a brand from the Swedish “Spivi” group. Do you remember putting candies in spirits to make the drink sweet? Well SMA SHOTS got inspired by this trend. The drink is a sour and sweet drink with a low alcohol degree. Lots of candy taste and colorful bottles to have great parties.

How did SMA SHOTS rose brand awareness? Well, the brand launched marketing campaigns on the best Chinese social media (Weibo, WeChat). And all the strategy is built by promoting the uniqueness of the products as well as the fact that it is very famous in northern countries and Germany.


SMA Shots

SMA SHOTS WeChat Posts 

Case Study: Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard also is a good example of a successful launch on the Chinese market. If the brand struggled in the past few years because of the anti-corruption policy that made the spirits market unstable, 2017 and 2018 have been great years for the brand with a growth of 19% of sales.

The new strategy of Pernod Ricard is to conquer Chinese millennials and middle-class Chinese people. They did by creating cocktails kits delivered at home within an hour, launching drinks that mix vodka with aromatized soda. For grown-ups and Baijiu enthusiast, Pernod Ricard developed a strategy by promoting Cognac meant to be drunk like a shot (in a similar way Chinese people would drink Baijiu).

Last year Pernod Ricard also organized with the brand Absolut 100 parties for New Year in across China.

 100 Parties for New Year in China – Pernod Ricard

 Take these as good examples, and leverage the opportunity of the Chinese spirits market!

Read also :

Chinese Wine Industry, Wine Importers

About the author

Olivier VEROT, is a Marketing expert for the Chinese Market. He will speak about the Internet trends about wine and about the Marketing best practices.

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