Status Quo of the Vodka market in China

According to International Wine and Spirit Research, in 2015, Chinese people will buy nearly 7.7 billion liters of spirits which represents an increase of 8% compared to 2009  figures. Whiskey is the most popular alcoholic beverage imported into China, but vodka has great potential. China is not a traditional consumer of vodka. Vodka sales are far behind those of Baijiu. But a new generation of consumers (the 80’s and 90’s generation) is emerging. The Chinese are increasingly fond of the western lifestyle and consumer habits are evolving quite fast.

Market share of world famous brands of vodka

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Market Share Vodka

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In China, the market share figures are not available which may be caused by the fact that the market is still very young and there are few barriers to entry.

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Key players in the Vodka market in China

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Read: Guide to Sell Wine, Spirit, and Beer in China

 Absolut Vodka in China

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Many luxury brands launched limited editions exclusively for the Chinese market. In 2010 Absolut launched its first limited edition bottle exclusively for the Chinese market. This new bottle. called Absolut 72, was designed by  Gao Yu, a young Chinese pop art artist. The bottle is inspired by a Chinese legend called “The Monkey King and its 72 transformations.”

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absolut_72-packaging-for-china

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From the 6th of August 2010, Absolut Vodka launched an integrated campaign for Absolut 72  in China. 350 000 bottles of Absolut 72 变 were sold.

The word 变 “Bian” means “transformation” in Chinese. The digital campaign, developed by TBWA China was activated via Absolut.cn. The prints for this campaign required the participation of a famous Chinese photographer called Chen Man. His work is known to be bold and it fits perfectly with the image of Absolut global communication made by TBWA.

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Smirnoff

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The star Vodka of the British group Diageo has enjoyed stable growth in China. In 2010, the vodka producer has acquired a majority stake in Sichuan Chengdu Quanxing Group which owns 39.7% of the baijiu brand Shui Jing Fang which is the oldest manufacturer of baijiu in China. The Baijiu represents 96% of all spirits sales in China. The goal is to use this brand of baijiu as a springboard to increase the visibility of Smirnoff.

Diageo has also teamed up with Shui Jing Fang to produce premium vodka in the city of Chengdu in the southwest of China using a combination of Russian and Chinese techniques.

Paying tribute to the golden age of China during the 1930s the  vodka was named “Shanghai White.”

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Shanghai-White

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Vodka is made in the Chengdu distillery of Shui Jing Fang. It is distilled four times over a period of six months before being bottled and sold at a retail price of U.S. $ 60.

While the launch of Shanghai White was described as global, so far this vodka is only available in a few places in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai.

Smirnoff is sold primarily in the best bars in major Chinese cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing.

Smirnoff is mostly sold in the best expatriates bars and clubs in major Chinese cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing. Its positioning is clearly of a brand for clubbing as you can see with events like the “vodka experience shanghai” launched in 2005.

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Belvedere Vodka

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Belvedere Vodka is a brand of  LVMH. It entered the Chinese market in 2005. Belvedere Vodka is a premium brand, focusing on jet-setter imagery but also providing an aristocratic and rustic atmosphere.

Belvedere vodka reflects more feminine and natural values ​​than most of the vodka brands as you can see looking at its packaging:

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The rise of upscale brands of vodka  in China

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New brands of high-end Vodka seized the specificities of Chinese consumers. You just need one briefing session with Chinese people to have their insights and to understand what vodka means for them. In China, vodka is drunk in mixed groups only and served with different color blends to bring light to the table and give a face to people around. Talking about the origin or taste would be completely irrelevant to promote vodka in China. For Chinese consumers, it is better to communicate the values ​​of purity, luxury, and social distinction. Examples of upscale vodka brands  starting to grow in China and consistent with  Chinese consumers expectations:


F Vodka: The Vodka made by Fashion TV  wants to Conquer the Chinese Market

With its title “The elixir of fashion” F VODKA positioning is very “jet set” and communicates in order to be distributed only in the trendiest clubs. His target: the fashionistas, stylists, influencers, and so on.

Launched in 2010 by Michel Adam, President of the Fashion TV station, f vodka wants to conquer China.

Since 2011 F vodka was distributed in the Dragon-i bar in Hong Kong. But this year fashion TV bars and clubs are to be opened in other major Chinese cities. Nowadays F vodka sells in expatriates bars and club-like Mint or Bar Rouge in Shanghai.

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The event in True Color Club, Guangzhou

The packaging of F Vodka suits Chinese consumers. Why? The winged silver bottle, which would probably be associated with newly wealthy people in France, will conversely perfectly match the needs of Chinese consumers who see the ostentatious designs as a way to give face or to provide a gift praising face culture.

Different bottles of F Vodka 

Ice Fox Vodka

Ice Fox Vodka quickly ranked among the top-end vodkas in China. The design of the bottle helped Ice Fox Vodka to stand out from the competition. Unlike F Vodka who keeps a strict “jet set” communication, Ice Fox Vodka also communicates on its subtle taste. Vodka is becoming increasingly popular in China, where Western consumption patterns attract the booming upper class. As Chinese consumers gain more knowledge about the vodka taste and aromatic notes, Ice Fox Vodka fills the need for premium vodka in the Chinese market.

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Ice-Fow-Vodka

.Ice Fox Vodka is a vodka produced in the United States and distilled in Northern California used in high-end bars across Hong Kong and China.

Swedish vodka brand, New Zealand vodka and American have definitively a card to play in the Chinese market.

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42 Below Vodka

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As Ice Fox Vodka 42 Below vodka communicates slightly about its origin and its “purity”. 42 Below vodka targets an audience of connoisseurs looking for intellectual distinction. The brand 42 Below has a less “jet set” and “clubbing” communication than other brands of premium vodka. 42 Below vodka targets an emerging market segment of consumers in major Chinese cities: the hipsters.

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The vodka market is a young market where sales are still far behind those of whiskey, winecognac, or champagne. But this is a market with great potential, atomized, where many brands can gain positions if they adopt a relevant communication based on a clear positioning.

Our Case Study

 

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25 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I’m interested in bringing a top Ukrainian vodka brand to China. I am interested in making contact with a clever organization which can assist me in this challenge. Thank you.

    Kind Regards,

    Chris

      1. Hi Oliver,

        I was searching the web about Chinese (cheap/not cheap) vodka in order to import to US. I found your website,

        I read your article about the market in China, Regarding your experience, I would like to ask you if it makes sense to import vodka from China (cause I have connections there and I am following the general conception that you can make money by importing from China to US) to US?! and if yes what kind of Chinese vodka can be accepted in US market, I know that it would not be any of these luxury brands. I am just looking for some descend vodka from china for big market of not high-end normal bars in US.

        Thank you for your article and sharing your experience.
        Best
        Damoun

        1. Hi

          Sorry, we are a digital agency to help brands to get visibility on the Chinese Market.
          We do not know Chinese Vodka.

      2. Hi Oliver,

        I was inspired by your blog and decided to write this letter to you hoping on your feedback!

        We are company in Russia that wants to bring Russian cognac to the Hong Kong market. We have never done this before and are interested in your marketing tips. Will this product find its target audience? What restrictions we may face during the precedure of entry the China market. Which characteristics of product will be the most important to entry this market successfully ( I mean the taste of people)?

        Thank you!

        Look forward to your email!

        Best regards,
        Natalia

      3. Good afternoon.

        My name is Viktor Bondarenko I am the owner of the company A.B.A International and the owner of the SCORE brand of vodka. I let out vodka at my own factory in Ukraine. Also my company is an Importer and distributors in the USA. In the US market, May products are sold for 3 years.

        I am writing in hopes of making a true synergy between our product and your company.

        Our product, Score Vodka is approved and registered in Illinois, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, New York, New Mexico, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky.

        We have proven results we can share that people come back for our vodka, – it is more affordable than Smirnoff, but smoother than any brand on the market. We can offer spiffs, so your company and its employees can have EXTRA financial benefits from our product as well. Our lineup consists of 375 ml, 750 ml, 1 liter, and 1,750 ml bottles. The top of our 750 ml and 1,750 ml bottles is significant because it is actually a twist open and close “pour spout”. Customers love that feature in off-premise stores and rave about the vodka’s quality as well. We would love to send some samples to your office so you can see for yourself.

        Evaluation of vodka – Our vodka is made from luxury wheat to achieve softness, we are seven times distilled, and we prove it on our tastings. As you can see on our facebook page.
        Here are some reviews:
        http://the-vodka-guy.com/score-vodka-review/
        http://vodkabuzz.com/vodkas/score/
        http://everydaydrinkers.com/2015/10/05/score-vodka-review/

        Please also see how we do it at our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0nj29wZngSStZ64u0As5Og

        Thank you so much for your time, and we look forward to hearing back from you soon.

    1. chris I have good conections for distubution in china, please send me some details on you goals and some product information. i think i mite be able to help you out…cheers!

  2. Hi,
    I know how to distribute Vodka in China. we can help you, contact me and I will give you the solution.
    (go to my website and contact form)

    1. My name is Mick Kahmann and I am an entrepreneur from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I am a representative of a high class vodka brand called ‘PUUR vodka’.

      In the beginning of 2015 I will be travelling to Shanghai (China) and Pune (India) for 4 months. This will be a great opportunity for me to explore the vodka business in Asia.

      We offer a high quality vodka brand made in Bulgaria. We offer this brand Puur Vodka also as private label.

      I am looking for contacts/customers/partners in Shanghai in the beverage distribution industry.

      Could you help me out?

      Kind regards,

      Mick

    2. Hi Wei
      my name is Jue my friend make a lot of Vodka in brazil and want to sell to china. can i have your e mail address and your website …
      thanks
      jue hu

    3. Hello,

      We are interested in exporting Indian Whisky, Vodka and Rum to China. Please advise how you can help us.

  3. Hi All,

    I am thinking to market a vodka brand in China.

    If you think you have relevant experience and knowledge and you speak Chinese, please drop me a mail.

    Regards,
    Andras

  4. Oliver,

    Great piece and just the kind of information my partners and I were looking for. We have a unique brand(premium) of flavored vodka that we know will be an absolute(no pun intended) winner in the emerging vodka market in China. Please contact me at the email address indicated in the form to arrange a discussion. We’re ready to set the market ablaze.

    Regards
    Jay Keter

  5. Hi Wei, my name is Vitaly, I am a businessman from Kazakhstan. I represent a high-class vodka brand under the name “HAOMA”.

    I many times visited China and very much I love your country. I want to sell our vodka in China long ago but I can’t find partners.

    I look for contacts / clients / partners in Shanghai in distribution of drinks.

    You couldn’t help me?

    Yours faithfully, Vitaly

    1. Hi Vitaly,
      but can you help me to by HAOMA Premium Vodka in EU.
      I was 2015 in Kazakhstan and trunk this excellent Vodka HAOEMA PREMIUM.

      Please tell me the Distributor in Europe for such excellent Vodka.

      Many thanks in advance

      Best regards
      Jens

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  7. Hello I’m selling 65,new name for vodka favor and designs if u know any companys that will buy my brands names please feel free to call me or email me

  8. Hi, my name is Alex , i try to find distributors of spirits in China, i represent Legendary vodka brand Kremlyovskaya ,premium vodka very good quality produced in France.
    We got double gold in CWSA 2016 awards and Vodka of the year 2016
    Now we are going for success re-lounge of the brand, for reaching and exceed previous brand results, if somebody is interested in cooperation with us dont hesitate to contact us.

    1. Hello,
      If you want distributors we can help you, but in China Branding is everything and good brand can unlock the distribution.

  9. hello , i am Chinese . If i want to be the distributor , what should i pay ? what can i get ?
    i’m interested about the brand Smirnoff , actually , Smirnoff’s series of ICE .
    You can email me , we can talk about it.

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