Fri, May 07, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Monopoly chasing after youth market

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Think that state-owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (台灣菸酒公司) is too old to learn new tricks? You'd be wrong -- perhaps.

The nation's largest alcohol-beverage producer yesterday showed its determination to change its stodgy image as it embarked on an attempt to capture more of the extensive youth market.

"We must pay attention to the younger generation by offering them healthy and fresh drinks," Taiwan Tobacco chairman Morgan Hwang (黃營杉) said at a press conference yesterday.

The former state-run Taiwan Tobacco, corporatized in July 2002, is taking a vigorous approach to marketing its "Gold Medal Taiwan Beer," which was rolled out in April last year and targeted at young people.

Taiwan Beer products account for 82.7 percent of the nation's beer market, which was worth NT$27 billion last year, followed by China'sTsingtao Beer's with an 8 percent share, Taiwan Tobacco's vice president Martin Tsai (蔡木霖) said.

Its market share has recovered after dropping to a low of 74 percent when Tsingtao Beer entered the local market in 2002.

As the boom season for beer is approaching, the company is stepping up its promotion of Gold Medal, hoping to help raise its annual revenues by 10 percent to NT$24.5 billion.

"We're confident that we'll reach the goal," Tsai said.

One of its new strategies is to ally with Drinks Wines & Spirits Co (橡木桶洋酒), the nation's largest retailer of imported wines and spirits -- with 30 outlets nationwide -- to push Gold Medal.

"It's the first time that we have local beers displayed in our outlets," said the retailer's president Roger Chen (陳春安).

Until the end of August or -- depending on the weather -- September, a 0.6-liter bottle of Gold Medal will be given away free for each bottle of imported alcohol bought at a Drinks Wines & Spirits Co outlet.

Chen said his company is prepared to give out 100,000 bottles of Gold Medals.

In an effort to cash in on the charisma of pop idols, Taiwan Tobacco has approached a male singer to serve as Gold Medal's exclusive spokesman and new TV commercials will be released next month, Tsai said.

"But we'll still have rock star Wu Bai (伍佰) in our ad campaigns because half of our customers are aged between 35 and 49," Tsai said.

The company began dispatching 166 "Taiwan Beer Girls" to hawk Gold Medal beer in restaurants, starting last Saturday. It is also looking to break into the club market, where Heineken suppliers usually give good deals to pub owners.

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