Tag Archives: asia

How Asian drinks brands are targeting new markets

Most Asian drinks brands sell the majority of their volumes domestically, where brand awareness is high and drinking cultures are long established. For example, IWSR data shows that approximately 97% of Japanese beer, wines, spirits and RTDs are consumed in the local market. When looking at just the premium-and-above price segment, over 60% of Japanese wines and spirits are consumed locally. But as competition from international brands mounts, local distillers, brewers and winemakers are dedicating more time and resources to developing their presence in overseas markets.

“There are lot of local champions that have a very strong position within their own market but little presence outside,” explains Tommy Keeling, Research Director at IWSR. “As Asian populations grow richer, consumers are trading up to imported drinks brands and the position of local champions suddenly looks less secure, so many are looking to diversify abroad.”

Keeling adds that for many brands, the real benefit of international expansion is the resulting uptick in interest in their domestic markets. In the case of Chinese spirit baijiu, for example, exports are unlikely to ever be more than a fraction of local sales, but distillers are hoping growing interest in the category abroad will boost its popularity at home.

Baijiu is a wealthy category, so brands are able to invest in high profile display advertising, such as Wuliangye’s billboard in Times Square. One of the main aims of this strategy would be to target relatively wealthy Chinese tourists who are already familiar with the brand. Luzhou Laojiao, another large baijiu producer, sponsored the 2019 Australian Open with its high-end Guojiao 1573 brand, again, principally targeting Chinese viewers.

For smaller brands such as Fenjiu, the main goal in international markets is education. “We would like to continue educating the UK market on baijiu and increase both trade and consumer awareness and understanding of this category,” says Qiqi Chen, managing director of Cheng International, the UK distributor of Fenjiu.

The brand takes a more intimate approach to marketing through meetings, masterclasses and tasting sessions, all supported through a strong social media drive. “There are two main baijiu education themes for us,” says Chen. “One is introducing Chinese food and drink culture, and the other is showing how Chinese baijiu can blend well with the western lifestyle.”

In order to offer a “more direct experience” of its brand, Fenjiu will increase its work with bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers, as well as brands outside of the food and drink industry.

Keeling adds that once brands start to expand internationally, it is crucial for them to tailor their approach to the market in which they are selling. For example, in South Korea, soju consumption is widespread, so brands mostly compete on price. However, due to shipping costs, import duties and excise taxes, the product becomes more expensive in overseas markets. As such, brands would be better to promote a different set of values.

For Asian beer brands, giving consumers an authentic taste of their respective cultures is an important way to expand their foreign fan base. The UK in particular gives brands the opportunity to grow their reach through the restaurant channel. Indian beer brand Kingfisher, for instance, has 5,000 distribution points in Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants in the UK.

John Price, head of marketing at KBE Drinks, the UK distributor of Kingfisher, notes that the brand “can be found in every type of eatery”, from high street curry houses to Michelin starred restaurants. “The restaurant channel will always remain the beating heart of our business, but it is sometimes hard to break out of this into wider consumption occasions,” he adds.

This is where sports sponsorships come in. Through commercial partnerships such as these, brands become visible in a new context. Kingfisher is currently a partner of Southampton FC, Leeds United FC, Sussex County Cricket and Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club. “We don’t take on a partnership unless we get pouring rights and this gives consumers the chance to re-evaluate the brand in a fun and exciting environment,” adds Price.

Thailand’s Chang Beer, which is the official beer of Leicester City Football Club, has an international marketing strategy centred around provenance and heritage. “Growing internationally is a journey that is carefully curated with the right partners, the right channels and the right marketing mix,” says Ronnie Teo, head of group marketing at Chang.

“It is important to ensure that we work with partners who share the same long-term convictions as us. Our partners understand what our Chang brand stands for – its provenance and values – and collaborate with us to market the brand in the right sales channels with the right messaging.”

For a number of years, Chang has hosted the Chang Sensory Trails event in London, which celebrates Thai cuisine in a contemporary setting filled with music and street art. Events such as these allow Asian brands to become an essential part of the cultural experiences and representations of their respective nations.

Ultimately, says Teo, to grow internationally, brands must first have a strong domestic business. “To that end, we have seen our marketing efforts in Thailand pay dividends, with our market share growing by more than 15% share points between 2014 and 2019. This strong growth has made Chang an iconic local champion, appealing to Thais, as well as the millions of tourists that visit Thailand annually. With a solid domestic foundation, we were then able to springboard our international marketing efforts.”

Churchgate just got Foo-ed!!

As legacy remains a witness, we realise that the famous Kamling has lived to be the most iconic Chinese restaurants throughout the ages. Inheriting their forefathers’ culinary versatility, Ryan and Keenan Tham, once again return, not only to ‘restore’ Kamling’s grandeur, but instead ‘evolve and expand’ its wings towards Asian Tapas dining by launching their newest property Foo Town.

Sited amongst the whirl of Churchgate, Foo Town is established where Kamling used to be – like an offspring born out of the mother’s womb. Since the Tham family has been revered for their warm hospitality experience, Mumbai’s first new age Asian Tapas restaurant also embraces this heirloom with a splendid 80-90 seating expanse. With outside seating as well, the restaurant welcomes its guests with a light caress of the green foliage that spreads above, outside as well as inside – a view seldom found.

There is awe in the air as we perceive that Foo Town is an extension of Foo Phoenix, yet diverging from it with 20 new dishes, including the Kamling Classics. Heritage remains intact as Foo Town serves the scrumptious Kamling Hakka Chicken and the delicieux whole Pomfret, along with the rich Kamling Peking Fish.

The ‘Tapas Touch’ of the restaurant is well inaugurated with the Foo Asian Burrata, a modern asian salad containing burrata and quinoa, crowned with romaine lettuce with a dash of avocado smears. The Po-Po gives us the Belgium pork with Pomelo, crafted with kafir and lemongrass, topped with peanuts and cherry tomatoes. Boasting an All- Day dining menu, Foo Town promises a prominent taste, with the splendour of its Small Plates like the lavish Japanese Vegetable Tempura with a Wasabi Mayo Dip or the Crispy Snapper glazed with a Black Bean Sauce.

Introducing the Vegan Sushi dish, The ‘Foo Vegan’ Maki provides flavours of black rice, with a dash of avocado and Thai chillies, garnished with yam beans, guacamole and miso paste. The nourishing and wholesome Steamed Foo Baskets guides one through the gourmet realms of great health and nutrition, stretching from the Edamame and Pod; the Prawns topped with Pixian sauce and the lightly cooked Super Foo Salad. The Foo Sticky Rice with Lotus leaf contains a variation for the non-vegetarians with a dash of chicken, while the Sweet Potato sided with black bean sauce gives out a creamy escapade.

The newly added Broccoli dumpling bursts into flavours, as the Spicy Tofu dumplings tingle taste buds. Also, first time in Mumbai, the audience will be amused to find the splendid Chocolate and Marshmallow Sushi Roll, on the dessert menu, right next to The Yuzu Orange Cream Caramel promises to create fascination just as the rest of the menu does.

Foo Town serves us with an indulgence of brilliant cocktails by inhouse mixologist Dimitri Lezinska, with the menu quartered into four intuitive portions. The Foo Tails hails the menu with the Absolut blended Foo King and Foo Queen, followed by Miso Sour and the discerning Gateway Pavillion. As Gin remains the vogue of the era, the menu then presents the Gin Tails – a luscious collection of Gin blends like the Spanish G&T and Foo By The Bay. The sparkle and shimmer of the drink is well displayed by the High Tails collection, where the tall glasses clink to smooth down the Marine Drive Mule and the Fountain Road Cooler. And the menu’s hindmost category remains the Wine Tails – a sombre assemblage of Sangrias from around the globe.

The Tham Family, yet again with Foo Town, presents to us a plethora of the greatest Fine Dining Asian culinary experience along with an inherited aura of warmth and hospitality to perch not only onto our food palates, but also our hearts.