Is the World Ready for Baijiu?
on 12/08/11 at 11:46 amSpirits
Baijiu isn’t for the easily tipsy. Richard Nixon’s advisers famously tried to keep the president away from the strong Chinese liquor (baijiu translates as “white spirit”) at state dinners during his first visit to China in 1972.
That didn’t stop Diageo, the world’s largest spirits producer, from in June acquiring a majority stake in Shui Jing Fang, a premium baijiu label. Now Diageo is seeking to modernize the brand and take it beyond China and Hong Kong.
It’s starting with Singapore, where it launched Shui Jing Fang last month. It has found distributors in Los Angeles and will be launching in Australia next year, says Lee Harle, Diageo’s general manager for Chinese white spirits.
Even outside China, Diageo is focused on the overseas Chinese community, he says, pointing out that Diageo also sells Shui Jing Fang at duty-free shops in 14 airports around the world. “We’re planning to go where [Chinese] business travelers go,” he says.
But will baijiu be a hit abroad, where it is much less common at banquet tables and with the second- and third-generation customers that Diageo is targeting in its overseas expansion?