Baijiu brand to cash in on new Chinese premier

A baijiu producer is eagerly awaiting the appointment of Xi Jinping as China’s next president so that it can cash in on his name.

Future Chinese premier Xi Jinping

Normally, using the name or image of party officials for commercial purposes is forbidden but by chance the Xi Jiu distillery in Xishui uses the same Chinese character as the incoming president.

According to the Financial Times, this association has already allowed the company to reach sales of RMB2.3 billion (US$369m) in the first 10 months of this year and it should double its 2010 performance to reach RMB3bn by the end of the year.

It may even list itself on the Chinese stock market next year. Xi Jiu was bought in 1998 by Kweichow Moutai (or Maotai), the baijiu used for all official banquets.

In an extra effort to make extra capital out of this association, the distillery has set itself a sales target of RMB8bn to RMB10bn by the end of 2015 and has apparently set aside RMB300m for prime time advertising on China’s state broadcaster.

An analyst in Beijing, Bill Bishop, told the FT: “The rationale for the big marketing push is the assumption that once Xi Jinping takes power lots of people will want to give Xi Jiu as gifts.”

Baijiu – though practically unknown in the west – is one of the world’s biggest spirits categories worth billions of yuan.

Diageo has already acquired a baijiu brand to capitalise on this and even launched it in the UK earlier this year.

What Jinping thinks of this not known but he is reported to have recently berated the party recently for spending too much time enjoying themselves and networking rather than studying their Marxism.

He takes over as head of the Communist party on Thursday 15 November and will become president in March next year.

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