Chinese businesspeople are successful, they want the whole world to
know about it, preferably over a large glass of Johnnie Walker.

So claims Diageo, the UK-listed drinks giant, in an interesting Financial Times article ($) on branding strategies.

China is one of the world's fastest growing whisky markets and
exports to China rose from £1.5m in 2001 to £46m last year. There is a
lot to play for and as China is a far from homogeneous market, Diageo
developed a China strategy for Johnnie Walker whisky two years ago.

As well as the traditional market of aspirational high earners,
Diageo discovered that whisky was being drunk by a much more varied
group of Chinese consumers as the once-high import tariffs had been cut
following China's accession to the WTO.

Diageo also found that Chinese consumers drink whisky in different
ways and in a more diverse range of venues than western consumers. They
even mix it with iced green tea — a sacrilege for whisky purists who
do not even allow an ice-cube to distract from the pure taste of a good
glass of scotch.

Diageo splits the Chinese market into four consumer groups. The
first and most important are “guanxi men” — status-driven middle-aged
businessmen for whom business entertaining plays a big role in their
lives. The second group is made up of strong independent women, the
third of young, upwardly mobiles, and the fourth group of
twentysomethings who are eager to explore something new.

The results of all this research have helped tailor local
advertising for Johnnie Walker, which is designed to reinforce the idea
that Chinese consumers are much more success-driven — and not shy
about showing it.

Despite the big investment in marketing and advertising, Johnnie
Walker lags Chivas Regal, owned by rival Pernod Ricard, in China's
whisky market.

($) subscription required

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