One of China’s top spirits players, Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery describes itself as the "pioneer of Chinese mellow liquor". Chief product officer and vice president Xueqian Zhang talks to Formes de Luxe about product development at the company.
How is Yanghe positioned in China?
Yanghe is one of the top three spirits companies in the country and our sales reached 24.16 billion RMB (US$3.49bn) in 2018. The company is known for its variant of soy sauce-flavored Maotai called Mellow Yanghe, which it created back in 2003, and that was praised by the industry as being “the origin of mellow”.
What is your product development strategy?
On the basis of quality first, we seek to create products that offer a totally different proposition from what is already on the market. For example, Ocean Blue and Sky Blue are centered on the idea of the color blue, while the fashion culture and the technological breakthrough of micro-molecules are the basis for our Dream Blue liquor. Every year, we launch new items, but with a focus on one or two core products.
How are your premium brands performing?
Our high-end ranges that target elite consumer segments, such as Dream Blue, saw strong sales growth in 2018. Their share of the portfolio exceeds 30%, which further consolidates their high-end market position.
How does Yanghe communicate its Chinese heritage via the packaging?
As liquor is an inherent part of China’s traditional culture, our product R&D teams seek inspiration from traditional fonts, patterns, artifact and architectural styles in line with the product’s positioning. The packaging also conveys consumer trends and local customs to further refine and sublimate the products.
How do you translate each brand’s image through the packaging design?
We come up with different styles to match consumer demand and seek differentiation through breakthrough designs. For the Dream Blue brand the central focus is on the classic blue color, while the shape of the bottle and its design elements communicate a more trendy and modern aspect. Mellow Sujiu, meanwhile, represents the traditional Chinese culture of Jiangsu province and features an original shade of green as the main color. Elegant and feminine, its design is more inclined to the use of traditional patterns and local elements, we also chose the more.
Do you work with local suppliers?
Our main packaging suppliers are in China, including those for our bottles, caps, boxes, labels, cartons and bags. Along with the company’s development, the quantity and quality of our suppliers is in constant improvement and our selection standards for our suppliers is also getting higher. The company conducts two evaluations per year in its different divisions and classifies its suppliers: grade A,B,C,D, grade A suppliers having the most stable supply and quality, high production capacity and strong R&D capabilities.
What role does sustainability play in your packaging development?
Our teams are constantly seeking more environmentally friendly and sustainable product designs. Measures in this area including a strict control of the void rate in line with national regulations, products without excessive packaging, continuous reduction of the use of acrylic materials and more use of environmentally friendly materials.
Your products are sold in 48 countries; how are you bringing Yanghe to international markets?
We will boost Yanghe’s presence in international markets by enhancing brand awareness and establishing a high-end brand image. By catering to local markets’ specifications and styles, we can make Yanghe products easier to integrate into the local mainstream market, allowing more foreigners to taste China’s best spirits!