Winning one of the most coveted ‘Revelation’ trophies from the 2019 Spirits Selection has turned out to be one of the greatest surprises for Henan Baofeng Liquor Industry.
Baijiu is a universe unto itself and the most popular spirit in the world. In 2018, 10.8 billion liters of baijiu were sold, more than whiskey, vodka, gin and tequila combined. That’s more than 10 liters per person in China – a quarter of global spirits consumption. There are four major categories of baijiu that are as distinct from each other as gin is from tequila.
At the last Spirits Selection by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles which was held in Fenyang city, Shanxi Province – China, the 103 international and professional judges collectively tasted 1,770 entries. More than 600 baijius alone competed, and 199 won medals. At the end of the competition, the Grand Gold Medals were tasted a second time by all the panel chairs, who deliberate in order to award ‘Spirits Selection Revelation’ trophies to innovative products that meet current consumer demand, making them particularly representative of present-day trends. Ten products were selected for their unquestionable quality, including 3 baijius.
The competition is important to us because for one, it has an established reputation and credibility in the spirits industry and with its hand-picked panel, we trust the platform and fairness of the results.
Baofeng Wine – National Color Fragrance – Chentan 35 – 50% is one of those three. Winning one of the most coveted ‘Revelation’ trophies from the 2019 Spirits Selection has turned out to be one of the greatest surprises for the distillery.
“…The award brings recognition and encouragement for the distillery. Winning the highest medal means that our product has been recognized by the market and the industry. After winning a gold medal in 2015, the 2019 edition is our second time entering Spirits Selection. The competition is important to us because for one, it has an established reputation and credibility in the spirits industry and with its hand-picked panel, we trust the platform and fairness of the results. Secondly, to test our products in an international contest is a way of calibrating our true product quality and helps with our product development and positioning. Finally, we are also hoping that by winning in the competition, our brand will become more recognized and our sales channels will widen…”, says says Mr Shaohua, Executive Vice-General Manager of Baofeng.
There are many, many types of baijiu; it almost defies categorization. The modern (easiest?) way to sort them is by smell, since geographical boundaries and production methods are not a reliable differentiator. China’s official classification recognizes four main categories: sauce aroma, strong aroma, light aroma and rice aroma.
Baofeng Liquor’s products belong to the light aroma baijiu category, the second largest type by volume, and most often associated with northern China. Baofeng has been recognized as one of the 17 national spirits in China and is the only brand dedicated to ‘light aroma baijiu’ within the Shandong, Henan, Suzhou, and Anhui provinces. This category has a floral and herbaceous flavor profile with a subtle sweetness reminiscent of dried fruit. The ABV of this type is anything but light. It’s sometimes bottled at 65%. With such high alcohol by volume, you would expect it to blow the doors off, but in fact it is smooth and delicate.
“…We believe that light aroma baijiu has a better chance of greater market acceptance overseas due to its approachable palate and more controlled production method. The Revelation reaffirms this belief and we will definitely leverage this award for our international development in the near future…”, adds Mr Shaohua.
The distillery has come up with communication plans for almost every major style of media through branding, product sales, and marketing, to promote the award.
But what makes this baijiu so special?
“Chentan 35 50%” is produced according to the traditional distillery principle for light aroma baijiu – the use of Daqu, separate steaming, solid fermentation in ground pits, double steaming, double distillation and aging in ceramic amphorae all ensure that the final product is pure in both appearance and palate. Moreover, a portion of base liquor which has been aged for at least 35 years is blended to add extra mellowness and softness to the final product.”
The packaging of the liquor also resembles the shape of ‘chi-pao’, a traditional dress form in China, to further enhance respect for Chinese tradition and customs.
The distillery has come up with communication plans for almost every major style of media through branding, product sales, and marketing, to promote the award. They have formed partnerships with several influential social media to publicize their participation in the competition and the medal; for sales, they have developed special and limited-edition packaging for the medal-winning product to boost added value; and marketing-wise, using the medal to promote the product at every major tasting event has become standard practice, with excellent results. Next, they will utilize integrated communications to gain a voice through videos, still ads, offline tasting events and online sales.
Where can you buy it?
“As we are just starting to establish our overseas sales channels, currently consumers can only purchase our products in the Czech Republic and Nepal, with limited presence. Our main efforts at the moment are being directed towards building an all-platform-ready e-commerce channel by covering all major e-commerce websites including T-Mall, Taobao, JD.com and Suning.com to ensure a smooth online purchasing experience within China. International consumers who are interested in our products can purchase them through the Zhengzhou Airport Bonded Zone via a purchasing agent”
Internationalization is going to be the major task for future business development. Starting from 2020, the company will initiate a new market roll-out plan allowing it to gradually enter the U.S., U.K., Russian, and Georgian markets. To support this strategy, Baofeng Liquor will also go through a major branding and packaging redevelopment to cater for a much wider consumer base.