Embracing the world helps make Tsingtao a global brand
Chu Liangjing still remembers when his company did business overseas 30 years ago, and had no idea where its products were sold.
“It was like a ‘blind’ sale without knowing the other end of an order. There seemed to be several walls between the sellers, overseas dealers and consumers,” said Chu, deputy general manager of Tsingtao Brewery International.
Chu started working at the international department of Tsingtao Brewery, based in Qingdao, Shandong province, in 1986.
At a time when China was dominated by a planned economy, the brewery didn’t have the right to directly export products. Instead, beer products were supplied to a designated foreign trade corporation under the administration of the provincial government.
Founded in 1903 by German and British merchants, Tsingtao Brewery bears the name of its birth place. It had gained some renown by the 1980s, but was still far from being a world-leading beer maker.
Things changed after Tsingtao Brewery was granted the right to export directly in April 1987.
Chu said he was told it should shift its focus to real customer needs and ought to learn how to compete in global markets.
“Hearing that team talk, I was almost petrified, but I quickly came back to myself and realized it was time for a tremendous transformation,” he said.
In 1992, Tsingtao Brewery launched its first overseas office in Italy and then sent staff members to wholesale agencies in countries such as Canada and France. By establishing joint sales companies, the brewery quickly expanded its overseas business.
Now the company has become one of the world’s largest breweries in terms of output, with products exported to more than 100 countries and regions.
“As a participant, witness and beneficiary of the country’s reform and opening-up policy, Tsingtao is also an active explorer and practitioner of China’s successful market-orientated economy, enterprise capitalization and internationalization,” Chu said.
Statistics from the Centre for International Communication Studies last year showed Tsingtao has acquired more than 90 percent brand recognition in many developed countries in Europe and North America.
“Tsingtao will continue to resonate with the country’s development and social progress and make efforts to enhance the global influence of Chinese brands,” Chu said.