Spirits brands miss digital marketing opps in new Asian sales 'epicenter'?


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Diageo brand Johnnie Walker is one Asia Pacific digital marketing success story, according to think tank L2's new report
Diageo brand Johnnie Walker is one Asia Pacific digital marketing success story, according to think tank L2's new report
Despite runaway spirits growth in Asia, 20% of global brands do not have a Chinese website, and mobile sites tend to lack investment, but Hennessey and Johnnie Walker are strong in key markets.

‘Think tank for digital innovation’ L2 draws these striking conclusions in its new Asian supplement to the previously published Digital IQ Index on spirits.

Introducing L2’s report, Scott Galloway, L2 founder and professor of marketing at NYU Stern Galloway notes that the “epicentre of growth in spirits has moved East”​, with 5.2% growth in APAC (Asia and Pacific) versus 2.4% globally.

Global icons are gaining traction against local players, and in China prestige spirits are predicted to grow at an impressive 118.3% CAGR over the next four years, mainly led by global brands, while sales of premium spirits in Asia are growing at twice the rate of standard products.

And while growth forecasts for Japan are more modest – L2’s analysts point out that two-thirds of global brands fail to feature video on Japanese sites, despite 50% greater video consumption versus the global average – he reminds us that it is still the world’s sixth-largest spirits market.

Chinese fakes fall foul of iPhone apps

‘Gateway markets’ such as Hong Kong and Taiwan are also gaining relevance with growth in travel retail, they add, noting Diageo observing Asian travel retail sales up 37% year-on-year in 2011, while Remy Cointreau said in late 2012 it expects the channel to outstrip European sales soon.

Brands that have shown a ‘Flash of Genius’ in terms of digital marketing to Asian consumers include Chinese rivals Wuliyangye and Moutai, which have addressed the perennial problem of counterfeiting in the country using RFID technology.

“Wuliyangye is a pioneer in the field, building a website educating consumers on product authentication. Customers can enter product codes online or text to a designated phone number to authenticate products,”​ L2’s analysts write.

RFID kiosks at authorized retailers allow consumers to scan products for authentication, and in 2013 Wuliyangye extended its authentication system to an iOS App for the iPhone, they add.

Hennessey and Johnnie Walker score well

Although L2’s analysts vote Hennessey cognac No.1 in digital marketing across key markets China, Japan and Taiwan, Johnnie Walker is another global brand that has invested in Asian success.

In Hong Kong, the Diageo brand released an app (that integrates with Facebook) on both iOS and Google Play that allows fans to collect ‘miles’ to redeem for gifts, prizes and concert tickets.

This integrates QR technology so users can scan bottles and promotional materials to gain points.

Similar initiatives across Asia mean that Johnnie Walker is L2’s No.2 in China (local content helps a best-in-class site and the largest following on Twitter/Facebook hybrid Sina Weibo) and No.5 in Japan (high-quality YouTube videos on Keep Walking Theatre​ microsite, strong Facebook presence).

Diageo’s whiskey power brand is also No.2 in Taiwan, where it benefits from localized videos that take top YouTube scores, and is Facebook market leader with 340,000 fans.

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