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    Moutai’s Liquor-Filled Chocolates Spark Buying Frenzy in China

    With prices surging on second-hand trading platforms, the company has said it is boosting production and advised consumers to only buy chocolates from official stores.

    A surge in demand for liquor-filled chocolates launched by Kweichow Moutai in collaboration with Mars Inc.-owned Dove has driven prices up by as much as 180% on the second-hand trading platform Xianyu.

    Originally priced at 35 yuan ($4.80), a box of two chocolates, sold under the name Maoxiaoling, can now fetch up to 99.99 yuan. Responding to the overwhelming demand, Kweichow Moutai — China’s leading liquor brand — announced that it is boosting production and strongly advised consumers to only buy the chocolates from official stores. 

    Kweichow Moutai unveiled the liquor-filled chocolates on Sept. 16, shortly after launching an alcoholic coffee drink in partnership with Luckin Coffee earlier this month. 

    The collaboration quickly attracted a buzz on social media, racking up over 400 million views on the microblogging platform Weibo. The Beijing News reported that the Maoxiaoling chocolates flew off the shelves and sold out within 15 minutes of their debut on Moutai’s app and on the e-commerce platform Tianmao.

    Often dubbed China’s “national liquor,” Kweichow Moutai has recently shifted focus in an attempt to captivate a younger audience. With the new coffee and chocolates, the company aims to give the younger generation their “first taste of Moutai” at an affordable price point. Presently, a bottle of 53% ABV Moutai baijiu is priced at around 3,000 yuan. 

    This strategic move to diversify products while maintaining its renowned branding underlines Moutai’s dominance in the market. A study by Zhiyan Consulting showed that Moutai had an 18.7% market share in 2022, securing its position atop the baijiu industry.

    Before branching out into liquor-filled chocolate and coffee, Moutai collaborated with Mengniu Dairy last May and Zhongjie 1946 in July in a venture into alcoholic ice creams. 

    At the Maoxiaoling chocolate launch event, Ding Xiongjun, chairman of Kweichow Moutai, said the company must embrace the young generation to enhance its resilience and vitality. 

    A traditional liquor, baijiu is generally favored by the middle-aged and elderly. A 2022 industry report by RIES Positioning Pioneers revealed that only 11.2% of young people prefer alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of 30% or higher.

    Cai Xuefei, a wine critic and manager of Zhiqu Marketing, told Sixth Tone that Moutai’s co-branded products can set an example for other traditional baijiu brands in China. 

    “Maotai and other leading baijiu companies engaging in cross-industry collaborations is actually a good thing, especially for the transformation of traditional Chinese liquor brands and technological innovations in this internet age,” said Cai. 

    Editor: Apurva. 

    (Header image: Chocolates by Moutai and Dove on sale at a supermarket in Shanghai, Sept. 16, 2023. VCG)