In 2020, “Pinjianshi Mona” WeChat Channel was established with the aim of promoting Baijiu. In 2022, Mona founded a company called SavorEast with the same goal. What’s more, she hopes to better introduce Chinese spirits to consumers through visual means.
The Mona IP can be seen not only on social platforms like Douyin, Bilibili, and WeChat Channels but also in offline tasting events. Mona established SavorEast with the ambition to make it a professional Baijiu media specializing in video content.
SavorEast is now enjoying more followers every day on various platforms and it is collaborating with major Baijiu brands to craft quality content. Besides, Baijiu tasting sessions are thrown regularly offline, effectively combining online and offline activities to recruit more followers.
Mona Wang, through her recent interview with WINWSA, talks about her understanding of the marketing and branding of Baijiu and her vision of promoting Baijiu through visual means.
Q: How many years have you been in the wine & spirits business?
MW: I started from marketing and branding for domestic Baijiu and wine brands in 2012; from 2020, I have focused on content creation and marketing for wine and spirits.
Q: What makes you devote yourself to the wine and spirits sector?
MW: It was more of a coincidence when I entered into this field. I was working with some major Baijiu distilleries and wine producers in China and I became immensely interested in the tasting and appreciation of wine and spirits. Three years ago I decided to bring my experience and knowledge to the Baijiu industry. I hope to use more innovative, more impactful ways to better introduce the Chinese-made spirit to the world.
Q: What are the main transformations & changes in the industry you have experienced so far?
MW: The Baijiu industry has gone through several stages in terms of homogeneity in competition: from channels to brands and quality. Given the drastic changes in consumer consumption, marketing, and channels, the Baijiu industry has entered into a new era where producers have to take consumers into serious consideration. I see four major transformations in Baijiu marketing in China:
a. Digitalization: Baijiu marketing has gone from traditional to digital, employing social media, e-commerce, and mobile channels for branding and sales.
b. Brand upgrading: many Baijiu brands started to improve the quality of their products and to launch high-end product lines. Many brands also start to pay attention to the visual design of their products.
c. Marketing centered on experience: more and more brands start to focus on consumers’ drinking experience. Through organizing offline events, opening physical stores, and developing more colorful tastes, Baijiu brands hope to attract more consumers.
d. Smart marketing: leveraging AI and big data, Baijiu producers can better understand consumers’ preferences and needs and thus invest in advertising and promotions more prudently to elevate its sales.
Q: What do you enjoy most in your career? The biggest challenge you have encountered as a woman in the industry? What drives you to keep going?
MW: What makes me happy is that we have been using some really novel methods to introduce different aspects of this industry to our audience. Thanks to our perseverance, we have received recognition and acclaim. With continuous efforts, you can make a difference and create value.
I think the biggest challenge I have encountered is keeping the balance between tradition and innovation. You must respect tradition and the established rules in this industry, and at the same time, remain true to your original aspiration and be willing to try new things, which is very challenging indeed.
I always believe that no matter what industry we are in or what job we do, we should make sure that our work could make the world a better place. If our work could help better tell the stories of Chinese Baijiu, bring attention to the practitioners of the industry, and shine a light on the value of Chinese-made liquor, then our efforts paid off.
Q: What are the main distinguishing merits or qualities women have that attribute to their career success?
MW: Women have many precious qualities, we tend to be more subtle, caring, and good at observation and expression. When facing difficult situations, we adopt “soft” power to solve problems. These qualities make us more acute as media when we observe and express.
Fortitude is also a great merit in women, which makes us more insistent when dealing with difficulties.
Q: Any Advice to your peers?
MW: Firstly, you have to admit that there are differences. You should understand your strengths and know how to use them. Secondly, you should believe in yourself and that you have your own value no matter what industry you are in or what job you do. Lastly, you should not rush, or give up easily. You must carry on despite the trouble you have and believe in the power of time.
Q: What makes your platform different from others regarding the content?
MW: I hope that our angle is delicate, diverse, and true; trying different forms of expression, and employing visual language which is easier for consumers to understand. We have been trying to interact with consumers in more ways.
Q: Baijiu is inseparable from Chinese culture, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of binding?
MW: This firm bond between Baijiu and Chinese culture has bequeathed an enormous cultural heritage and a deep connection with consumers to this liquor. Yet, at the same time, it has prohibited it from attracting more drinkers and has made it hard for it to adjust to the swift changes in preferences.
1. Cultural heritage: the legacy Baijiu inherited from its strong bond with Chinese culture has helped it to gain recognition and appreciation from both Chinese and worldwide consumers.
2. Brand identification: Baijiu enjoys time-honored history in China and has become a symbol of Chinese culture. This connection has helped it stand out in the fierce competition with other liquors.
3. Special taste: Baijiu’s special taste is inseparable from Chinese culture and it has helped the liquor gain its foothold in the market.
1. Limited attraction: its connection to Chinese culture translates into a reduced attraction for consumers who are not familiar with the culture. It makes it difficult to market the liquor to countries outside China, especially those without a big Chinese community.
2. Stereotype: Baijiu is often related to a negative stereotype that it is strong, spicy, and difficult to swallow. These pre-existing misunderstandings could be an obstacle refraining it from gaining a bigger market share and a wider audience.
3. Stasis in the market: its strong connection with Chinese culture could hamper its adaption to new consumer preferences and restrict its growth and make it more prone to competition.
Q: What are the key points for promoting Baijiu under the current background, and how do you see those changes as a Baijiu culture communicator?
MW: 1. The marketing of Baijiu is more focused on quality compared to the old days. Since consumers care about tastes more than brands. Baijiu producers must adopt a way of communication that is easier for the consumers to understand and can even create relation.
2. Baijiu’s branding has become more homogeneous. Its means that brands should pay more attention to their own identity when communicating with consumers.
3. The focus of marketing has shifted from concepts to people. Nowadays, brand communications are more about the common heroes near us, like people distilling liquor. Stories of ordinary people create value for the brand and therefore, become one of the most important drivers in brand marketing.
Q: What is your vision for the promotion of baijiu?
MW: Through SavorEast Culture, we hope to help our audience view Chinese Baijiu in a more friendly way, invoking more positive interactions between the industry and consumers. We would continue our work on the content for the To B and To C sides, searching for more effective ways of communication and creating more online and offline interactive experiences.
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Photo Credit: Mona Wang