China has displaced the United States as the world’s largest beer market, presenting an alluring target for global beer brands as consumption elsewhere declines. However, L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beer China suggests that their investments may have limited returns, as the market is dominated by local brands and despite accounting for a quarter of beer consumption, China represents only a tenth of revenue. Successful brands leverage popular mobile-messaging services and e-commerce platforms such as WeChat and Tmall to reach the country’s increasingly mobile consumers.

Top 10 beers in China1. Budweiser
Digital IQ: 153

Budweiser enjoys significant traffic thanks to an extensive and frequently updated website featuring locally relevant music and other content. The brand also scores highest in the Index for visibility and user engagement on WeChat and secures impressive organic reach and discoverability on Tmall, where it operates both brand- and enterprise-level storefronts.

2. Snow
Digital IQ: 149

The best-selling brand in the world maintains an extensive Tmall store and boasts the largest following and second-highest engagement rate on Weibo from 14 active accounts. It is also the third-largest advertiser in the Index, with dozens of display ad creatives ensuring broad online visibility.

3. Heineken
Digital IQ: 141

Heineken exceeds its relative performance compared to other regions, boasting a high share of shelf on prominent retailers JD.com and Tmall and a strong presence on Sina Weibo and WeChat. That Tmall store offers an example of successful localization, as it is used to highlight localized products and sports-centric campaigns. Meanwhile, the brand site promotes global content with Heineken’s signature strong architecture and is fully optimized for mobile users, including extensive support for video content.

Major retailers for beer in China

4. Harbin
Digital IQ: 125

Despite having only one account on Weibo, Harbin generates the third-highest engagement in the Index. The brand also leverages its partnership with the NBA to sponsor sweepstakes and competitions and is the sole brand in the Gifted category to invest in a mobile-optimized site.

4. Pearl River
Digital IQ: 125

Pearl River sees the Index’s highest engagement on Weibo thanks to UGC-driven contests and food pairings. The brand also boasts impressive visibility in mobile search, earning the top spot against branded terms.

6. Tsingtao
Digital IQ: 122

As mobile video’s importance in China surges, Tsingtao is investing heavily in web advertising, as evidenced by its high number of unique ad creatives – the most of any brand in the Index. Tsingtao’s ads frequently place the product first in addition to featuring the brand’s loyalty program and WeChat store.

Brands with most creatives

6. Yanjing
Digital IQ: 122

With dozens of products available on Tmall and JD.com, Yanjing garners major visibility across platforms. However, while its brand site links to the related store on Tmall, it also contains outdated content from the brand’s 清爽之旅 [Refreshing Trip] campaign.

8. Tiger
Digital IQ: 107

Tiger’s optimized mobile site includes expandable icons, lists, and efficient navigation schemes. The brand also garners high view counts for its WeChat content, despite posting only sporadically on the platform.

9. Asahi
Digital IQ: 106

Asahi’s best-in-class brand site features a nested Weibo social feed and food and drink recipes. However, the lack of mobile optimization puts the brand a step behind competitors.

10. Guinness
Digital IQ: 103

Guinness is the lone brand investing in paid ads on Baidu for terms such as“国内啤酒” [domestic beer]. Additionally, it is one of just four brands with a localized mobile app.

 

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