Well, Johnnie Walker’s new opening in China may be exactly what you are looking for. Diageo, this month has opened up the very luxurious Johnnie Walker House in the French Concession district of Shanghai in a bid to try and bring whisky to the Chinese and increase the competition against rivals- Chivas Regal and Remy Cointreau.
The £2 million villa is open to select invitees, preferrably those with a bit of cash to burn, (cue the bankers and trust-fund boys and girls), and offers exclusive opportunities to pay homage to Johnnie and his distilled beverage. The bar/villa/temple offers guests tasting opportunites as well as a luxurious environment in which to enjoy your favourite dram of $2,000 limited edition 1910 Edition JW. The walls, among other things, are decorated with whisky bottles, barley and peat!
On the surface of things this is a rather expensive PR exercise. Below the surface, however, this effort strongly shows Diageo’s desire to take advantage of the growing and emerging oriental alcohol and luxury markets market. Diageo already has a 27% share of the whisky market in China but sits behind its rival Pernod-Ricard which has 37.5%. Add to this the fact that Cognac is already well-established here and you can see why Diageo is keen to expand. As the British analyst Trevor Stirling points out, with this venture, Diageo hopes they will be able to influence a change of habit amongst younger drinkers by encouraging them to indulge in whisky rather than Cognac.
For a brand with such a vast range of prices and qualities, the Johnnie Walker House definitely sets up the brand as an aspirational product and as long as its PR is handled correctly, being in Shanghai, Diageo could see a very good return.