The China Challenge

December 1, 2005
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The China Challenge
In November, I visited Beijing, Nanchang and the mountainous area of southeast China. I could write about many interesting people, places and cultural differences, but the point that sticks in my mind in regard to beverages is China’s water. As a traveler, I couldn’t drink the water, but I wasn’t alone. Chinese can’t drink China’s water. Even in Mexico, local people can drink the water even if travelers cannot. According to a Euromonitor report called “Health and Wellness Beverages in China,” only an estimated 14 percent of the water in China is potable. Moreover, approximately two-thirds of China's cities face water supply shortages.
As I hear from more beverage and food companies of their interest in the millions of Chinese consumers, I want to remind these companies that China faces several large challenges as its economy continues to grow. First, China has a Communist government. It may have a capitalist economy, but I dare say you can’t visit without seeing the government’s hand in companies, building projects, workforce and the whole culture. Secondly, China may be one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, but it is still a developing nation with some of the worst air and water pollution and sanitation problems in the world. China doesn’t have the resources to support the people and industries it already has.
Chinese young adults are anxious to be like “Westerners” – so much so that they even followed me around Nanchang’s bustling Super Wal-Mart to see what I picked up. China’s growing coffee, beer, soft drink ­and health drink markets are a direct mimic of Western culture. Tea always will be king in China, and trust me, they know tea. But bottled water will be the very necessary queen.
Record toast
Las Vegas and Beaulieu Vineyard Wines will ring in the New Year in classic Las Vegas style by attempting to break the Guinness record for the world’s largest toast. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman will join more than 12,000 revelers as they lift a glass of BV Wine under the canopy of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Dec. 31.
Kooky contest
Comedienne Kathy Griffin and Malibu Caribbean Rum are challenging contestants to wear their holiday spirit on their sleeves. Griffin hosts the “trim-a-person” extravaganzas in which contestants are encouraged to dress themselves in holiday-themed decorations, lights, wrapping paper, bows galore and more for the chance to win free electricity for a year (up to $1,200) and other prizes. At contest events hosted in select cities, Malibu Mistletoe Martini and the Malibu Frosty Kathy Kiss will make their debuts.
Chivas concert series
Pernod Ricard USA’s Chivas Regal has expanded its Chivas Life Concert Series to include multiple artists in various cities throughout the United States. The new series format kicked off in October with two concerts at famed New York hotspot SOB’s featuring Grammy winner Julieta Venegas. The Scotch whisky’s concert series will continue through May 2006, bringing award-winning Latin talent to cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami and Houston.
Charge it
A survey on the small payment market, released at the Third Annual Micro and Small Payments Conference in New York City, found consumers’ desire to use credit and debit cards for small payment at the point of sale and online is on the rise. An estimated 45 million Americans are willing to use credit or debit cards for purchases of $5 or less, up 23 percent from September 2004. Additionally, nearly 20 million Americans ages 12 and older have purchased something online for less than $2 in the past year, up nearly 29 percent over the same period and 350 percent from October 2003. The survey found that consumers are interested in using credit and debit cards to pay for coffee and beverages, fast food/corporate cafeteria items and at vending machines/kiosks.
Country spirit
Blavod Extreme Spirits’ Terri Blaton joined Faith Hill at the Nashville Chapter’s 2005 Recording Academy Honors’ party. Blavod Extreme Spirits was the exclusive beverage sponsor at the party. Guests received Blavod Black Vodka and Players Extreme Caramel Infused Vodka in the event goodie bags. Blavod, Players Extreme and Baroncini wine were served at the event.
Ready to ride
This racing season, Miller is “Built for Great Taste Start 2 Finish” with its new stock car driver 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch. Point-of-Sale materials featuring Busch, the new Miller Lite No. 2 driver, and champion Larry Dixon, driver of the Don Prudhomme NHRA top-fuel dragster, will connect race fans to the Miller Lite experience.

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