Moutai Planning Major Global Push, But Can It Make Headway Outside Of Chinatowns?

Baijiu Maker Plots New Marketing Strategy, Sees Shanghai Expo Sales Boost

Westward Bound?

Westward Bound?

Moutai, China’s top maker of premium baijiu, is planning an ambitious new global marketing strategy that the company hopes could see its products venturing beyond Chinatowns and into the homes of wine drinkers in coming years, according to an article in China Entrepreneur.

While we’ve heard similar claims before from premium baijiu brands like the LVMH-owned Wenjun and Quanxing (partly owned by Diageo), and there are many reasons why the traditional Chinese spirit faces an uphill battle among non-Chinese drinkers, Moutai’s strategy may succeed on the basis of comparatively modest expectations. Heartened by an expected 8% sales boost this year due to the Shanghai World Expo, Maotai Group chairman Yuan Renguo recently said he hopes to establish Moutai as one of the world’s most famous liquor brands and boost exports by 20% in the short- to medium-term.

From China Entrepreneur (translation by Jing Daily team):

When asked whether the Shanghai World Expo was a lucky opportunity for Moutai and its international development, Yuan Renguo explained that this is a question he has been seriously considering. “As a world-famous liquor, Moutai’s leading status in the Chinese market is not enough. We must try harder to enter the global stage. I believe that through this World Expo, we will definitely be able to increase our international sales by 7%.”

Yuan said that Moutai is planning a five-country marketing point for France, Japan, the United States, Canada and Russia, and if it’s successful the company will further expand to Australia and Singapore. Moutai hopes to increase the 500 tons sold internationally in 2009 by at least 100 tons.

The reason Moutai is targeting cities like Paris specifically for its pilot program is because these cities have a very large Chinese population and more than 10,000 Chinese restaurants. Moutai plans to leverage local distributors to its advantage.

As non-Chinese groups are unaccustomed to the taste of baijiu, the Moutai overseas development strategy relies first on ethnic Chinese, then will extend later to other consumer groups. “[Non-Chinese] are drinking alcohol that’s more than 80 proof, but the won’t make the leap to 100+ proof overnight. But at the same time the market potential is there. If more French, American or British friends check Moutai out, and learn to adapt their tastes, [they’ll go from] one sip to a full glass.”

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Culture, Food, Wine, & Spirits