Spirits brands see digital openings in Asia

17 May 2013
BEIJING: Hennessy and Johnnie Walker are among leading spirits brands that have invested in Asian content and mobile loyalty schemes and so elevated themselves to the top of the digital rankings in the region.

In its report Digital IQ Index: Spirits APAC, the thinktank L2 sought to quantify the digital competence of 57 spirits brands across China, Japan and Taiwan and established that Hennessy was in the top spot in all three countries, while Johnnie Walker was second in China and Taiwan, fifth in Japan.

L2 found that brands had underinvested in mobile across the board, despite the widespread use of these devices in the region and only a handful had developed local language apps.

Only four brands, it said, offered a mobile optimised and non-Qwerty-based, age-restricted gateway. These were Glenfiddich, in Japan and Taiwan, Glenmorangie, in Taiwan, Hennessy, in all three countries, and The Balvenie, in Taiwan.

In addition, only Hennessy offered mobile search and even then not in Japan.

Brands were also underinvesting in video, according to L2, noting that two-thirds of those surveyed had no local content on Japanese sites, even though the Japanese consume 1.5 times the global average of video content.

Taiwan fared best in this regard, with 24% of brands providing video content in the local language.

Johnnie Walker, which has targeted the premium whisky market in China, was the only global brand with local language video content in both that country and Taiwan, including material featuring local celebrity Chen Kun to highlight their "Keep Walking" campaign.

Ecommerce was noted as an area that is not open to spirits brands in the US and Europe but has potential in Asia.

Local brands Moutai, in China, and Choya, in Japan, have brand sites with a direct-to-consumer offer, while Suntory, the Japanese drinks giant, has a multi-brand e-commerce destination in China.

Among western brands, Pernod-Ricard and Bacardi host Tmall stores on Taobao, the Chinese ecommerce site.

China has a reputation for counterfeit goods and two local brands, Moutai and Wuliyangye, have taken steps to deal with this, developing digital and mobile tools to help verify a product's authenticity.

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff
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