By Casey Hall
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese luxury liquor-maker Kweichow Moutai is again looking to diversify from its fiery baijiu spirit core business to attract a new generation of consumers via a sweet collaboration with Mars, Inc.-owned Dove.
The companies jointly announced on Thursday they would release limited edition alcohol-infused chocolates, available from Saturday.
Within an hour, a hashtag about the collaboration had leapt to the top of the trending topics list on China’s Weibo social media platform.
This announcement comes only 10 days after the launch of a baijiu-infused latte from Moutai and domestic Starbucks rival, Luckin Coffee, which generated enormous interest online and sold out in cities around China.
“This demonstrates Moutai’s desire to broaden their appeal more to younger consumers,” said Jason Yu, greater China managing director of market research firm Kantar Worldpanel. “They fear their current base is too concentrated on older consumers and that makes them worry about the future of the brand.”
Moutai, known as the national liquor of China, is a potent, colourless spirit that is usually served at banquets.
The company, based in China’s southwestern Guizhou province, began its run of collaborations last year with domestic dairy Mengniu. The resulting series of alcohol-infused ice-creams also caused a stir among Chinese consumers.
In part, the attraction for younger Chinese of these quirky product tie ups lies in the novelty of buying into the Moutai brand for a small fraction of the cost of buying a bottle of its liquor, which has an average market price of 1,499 yuan ($206) for 500 mls.
Though details of the price of the upcoming liquor-infused chocolates Moutai is releasing with Dove haven’t been released yet, the Moutai-infused Luckin lattes were made available for as little as 19 yuan with coupons and a small tub of the alcoholic ice-cream was priced at 60 yuan.
Shares in the company were little changed on Thursday, having gained 5% this year.
($1 = 7.2735 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Casey Hall)