CZ - Happy Sisterhood Day

Baileys strikes an emotional chord with Chinese women by playing the BFF card

During my trip to Shanghai last month, after I hailed a taxi and settled down for the ride, a female voice came from a small screen installed in one of the taxi’s seats. It was a commercial for the launch of Baileys Mini Bottle (in 50ml and 200ml formats) in China. The commercial was set on a sunny winter afternoon, when two elegantly-dressed female friends got together to discuss fashion, take selfies with their smartphones, and appreciate paintings by Paul Cézanne. The commercial ended with the slogan: “Sisterhood time with Baileys Mini Bottle”.

CZ - Happy Sisterhood Day

Introduced into the Chinese market in 2005, Baileys has shown robust sales performance in China thanks to its strategy of targeting female consumers. As a result, in 2013 throughout Greater China, Baileys sales were up by 30%. Ahead of International Women’s Day in 2014, Baileys rolled out the Sisterhood Campaign and proclaimed April 17th as Sisterhood Day (the date April 17th sounds similar to “swear to be together” in Mandarin), encouraging Chinese ladies to celebrate the contributions their best friends or ‘sisters’ had made to their lives. Hosted on the Chinese social-networking site Sina Weibo, the digital campaign centered on three impactful short films, each telling an inspiring story about a pair of ‘sisters’. The brand also invited viewers to share their own stories of their special ‘sisters’ on social media. Driven by aggressive marketing campaigns, Baileys brand awareness has doubled from 40% in 2010 to become the top pick among liquor for women.

CZ 2 - Happy Sisterhood Day

Why have Baileys campaigns caused fashionable urban Chinese ladies to respond positively to its marketing communications?

Understanding the social and cultural background. In China, brotherhood and sisterhood are part of the new generational zeitgeist. Chinese Millennials, as known as the Post-80s in China, were born in the time of the one-child policy, and most of them grew up without the company of brothers or sisters. Best friends thus fill those roles, occupy a special place in their lives as confidants and companions, and offer support at a time when rapid changes in China are bringing a lot of opportunities, but also challenges and pressures. Baileys has been tapping into the concept of sisterhood with campaigns that use the reassuring framework of friendship to connect with Chinese women.

Precise consumer targeting and brand positioning. In China, women aged 25-35, which form Baileys’ main consumer group in the country, now enjoy increasing financial strength and a higher social status. Going out and knowing what to drink is becoming part of the idea of the successful cosmopolitan career women in Shanghai and Beijing. Baileys has positioned itself as the go-to drink for ladies’ nights out and female get-together and has carved itself a nice niche in the competitive liquor market, becoming the aspirational drink of choice for the modern, progressive women in China.

Going digital, social and local. Today, China is a leading country for social networking – 63% of smartphone users between 16 and 64 in China use social networking (the figure for US is 65%). Chinese Millennials in particular love to browse, chat, and make friends on social media. In this environment, Baileys partnered with local creative and digital agencies, who leveraged their deep understanding of Chinese consumers and their media consumption behavior, to develop the digital campaign that generated a great deal of discussion and focus on social media.

Baileys has shown how marketing campaigns must be based on strong consumer insights to achieve maximum impact. What lessons could the wine category learn from Baileys? It is always important to understand the simple fundamentals of why consumers do what they do in life. In China, wine is consumed for a variety of reasons: health benefit (“wine is good for my health”), functional enjoyment (“it helps to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere”), social expectation (“serving wine is a good way to show respect and consideration for my guests”), or self-expression (“it makes me feel modern and sophisticated”). Any needs-based segmentation of Chinese wine consumers would generate many segments. Wine businesses need to move beyond the one-size-fits-all approach and strive to customise products or services for individual needs.

In a few weeks time we will be publishing our new China Portraits 2015 report, which will provide a segmentation model of Chinese urban imported wine drinkers. It will help to identify your target consumers and get a detailed understanding of the consumers in each segment: who they are, why they drink wine, what they drink, where and how they buy wine, and how you can target them. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions about the Chinese market, would like to pre-order a report, or to tell us what you would like our upcoming reports to focus on.

Author: Chuan Zhou