Kendall Jenner’s award-winning liquor brand, 818 Tequila, made its China debut in August, but it has yet to gain significant traction in the country. On the Chinese ecommerce platform Taobao, bottles of Jenner’s liquor have been purchased fewer than 500 times in the past month.
The brand partnered with leading importer ChinaBev to bring its tequila to the Chinese market. ChinaBev planned both nationwide ecommerce distribution and local sales in large cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Shenzhen.
On the promotional front, 818 Tequila hosted a launch party at 1 Oak Shanghai on September 30 and partnered with other nightclubs like PH Chengdu to sell its liquor. However, some of the recent promotional events may have been hindered by a range of Covid-19-related shutdowns in Shanghai beginning in October.
Bottles of 818 — which come in añejo, blanco, and reposado variations — are sold on Taobao by ChinaBev and other liquor stores for prices ranging from 419 RMB (about 60 USD) to 745 RMB (about 103 USD).
The brand’s own Taobao storefront, Drink818, only sells sets of tequila shooters for 268 RMB, along with branded products such as tote bags and custom Nike Air Force 1s. Some products, including an oversized button-up, have not been purchased a single time in the past month.
Jenner’s brand may be suffering from limited social media marketing. Even with ChinaBev promoting the brand on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, the hashtag #818Tequila# has a little over 5,000 views.
The brand is slightly more popular on Xiaohongshu, a Chinese lifestyle platform, where the promotional tag has 571,000 views. However, the number pales compared to the tag for Kendall Jenner herself, which has more than 46 million views.
The overall lack of traction for Jenner’s brand can possibly be attributed to Chinese consumers’ relative disinterest in tequila.
Daxue Consulting reported that tequila was the least popular and least sold among the seven major kinds of spirits available in the Chinese market — baijiu, whisky, brandy, vodka, rum, and gin being the others. In comparison, Don Julio 1942 Tequila is the third-most-popular liquor brand in the U.S. market.
According to the same report, in March 2019, only 1.68 million bottles of tequila were sold on Chinese ecommerce platforms, while the most popular spirit, baijiu, sold 119 million bottles.
It remains to be seen whether the popularity of Kendall Jenner, who graced the cover of Vogue China in June, can overcome the Chinese market’s distaste for tequila. But for now, it seems celebrity power can’t sell everything.
Cover image via Instagram
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