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Moutai Baijiu L

The world’s most valuable beer and spirits brands

Moutai BaijiuJohnnie Walker is the world’s most valuable whisk(e)y brand, while Bud Light tops the charts in beer. But 2017 is the year of China’s baijiu brands, says Brand Finance, with the drink now accounting for a greater share of brand value than any other spirit type.

Valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance has recently released its lists of the 50 most valuable spirits brands and 25 top beer brands.

In 2016, whiskey accounted for 37% of total brand value in Brand Finance Drinks 50, with baijiu trailing behind at 23%. This year the tables have turned: whiskey takes a share of 28% with Baijiu leading on 37.5%.

The world’s biggest baijiu brands have a combined value of more than $22bn, and premiumisation is a trend to watch out for in the category.   

Boost for baijiu

Moutai, a household name in China for the grain-based alcohol baijiu (pictured), maintains its position as the world’s most valuable spirits brand, thanks to a 60% increase in brand value.

The Chinese brand has enjoyed a 19% year-on-year increase in revenue, and 7% increase in net profit, driving up its share price.

Baijiu, pronounced ‘bye-joe’, the fiery liquor is mainly consumed in China.

Made from raw materials such as sorghum, wheat, rice, sticky rice and corn, the spirit dates back some thousand years.   

Over the last five years, producers have started to set their sights on international markets, particularly highlighting its use as a cocktail ingredient.

The price of a bottle recently rose to 1,200 yuan; and the brand is now expanding outside of China with a presence in San Francisco and Germany.

Gujing Gong Jiu is the fastest growing baijiu brand in this year’s charts, nearly doubling its brand value. Wuliangye, Luzhou Laojiao and Yanghe have also shown impressive growth, with 86%, 73% and 50% increases respectively.

Baijiu is enjoying a strong following and consumers are also looking to trade up to more premium brands. But David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance, warns that brands cannot rest on their laurels.

“The baijiu market is resurgent but some have suggested this may only be temporary and that Chinese consumers’ tastes will diversify without corresponding growth internationally to compensate,” he said. 

“In such a situation, strong brands will be essential to maintain market share.”

Meanwhile, other most valuable brands this year are:

  • Johnnie Walker: Diageo’s Scotch whisky brand maintains its place as the most valuable whisky ‘by a considerable margin’, even though the brand value dropped 2% this year. It comes in at second place behind Moutai as the world’s most valuable spirits brand, with a brand value of $4.5bn.
  • Bud Light is the world’s most valuable beer brand (up 34% to $6.6bn), with fellow Anheuser-Busch brand Budweiser ($5.9bn) coming in at second place.
    Earlier this year Budweiser’s Superbowl ad drew the ire of Trump supporters – who called for a boycott of the brand for what they considered to be pro-immigrant propaganda – but Brand Finance says “This does not appear to have had any lasting damage, with brand value up 30%.”   
  • In beer Heineken takes third place, with a brand value growth of 22% to $5.2bn. Brand Finance notes its sports sponsorships: seeing a shift away from football to F1 and rugby.

Source: Brand Finance

More about baijiu:

It’s not a uniform product; it’s a class of spirits with many categories. Think whiskey with its range from smoky Scotch to mellow bourbon.

But unlike whiskey, which is fermented in a liquid state, baijiu is more or less dry fermented inside in-ground pits. It then is steam distilled several times in goose-neck stills, aged in massive terra cotta vessels, then finally blended (itself a complex and labour-intensive process).

It generally is bottled at around 100 or 120 proof (well above the typical 80 proof for vodka, gin, etc.) and is classed by aroma, such as “light,” ”rice,” ”strong” and “sauce” — labels which aren’t all that helpful to Westerners.

Typical reactions from first-timers are that it smells and tastes like blue cheese, mushroom or soy sauce — not the most alluring descriptors.

“This is not a spirit you can just pour into a martini glass and enjoy,” says New York bartender Orson Salicetti….

Read more here