Boxing Cat Brewery in Shanghai, owned by global beer brand Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has partnered with Tmall Innovation Center (TMIC), the market-research arm of Alibaba, to become the first company to make a craft beer tailored specifically for China.
As the largest beer producer in the world, China’s love for beer is well known. The two partnered to find out exactly what appeals to Chinese beer enthusiasts.
“Big Luck Big Win,” was the result; a porter beer with hints of orange and chocolate which was launched on Tmall just in time for Chinese New Year.
“This is a complete reverse approach,” Jordan told Alizilla. “We can directly work with the consumers to find out their preferences. This bypasses the sales and marketing steps and just goes straight to the brewers to create a new product based on what they prefer.”
Sales of craft beers in the China market have grown around 40 per cent annually since 2015, according to research firm Kantar.
“We can’t expect all trends to be driven by the American craft beer scene or the English craft beer scene. There is a lot of inspiration to draw from China,” said Boxing Cat Brand manager Kelsey Willis.
Industry observers have high hopes for China’s burgeoning beer market, pointing to the country’s middle-class as the main growth driver.
“The increasing demand for more premium beer offerings in China is being driven by the country’s young, middle-income consumer segment, with the tier-one cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin offering the greatest volume of this consumer group, as well as large numbers of bars and restaurants for the distribution of more premium alcohol offerings,” according to a study by Beer Connoisseur.
“The Chinese craft beer market is in its infancy, but at the same time, it’s growing rapidly. A beer education is something very important, and by talking to the consumer with directly through TMIC, we are able to educate the consumers and learn more about what they think,” said Willis.