Online Marketing in a five billion miracle: The case of RIO alcopop

Online Marketing in a five billion miracle:

The case study of RIO alcopop



e713c4b22037ea4227eb10ea9ec2fc67RIO is a sub-brand of Shanghai Bacchus Ltd. which is now the largest alcopop manufacturing company in China. In 2009, during the economic crisis, the Bacchus Company equity was 100% transferred to a new CEO with a total value of 100 yuan (€12.91). However, five years later, in 2014, the Bacchus Company was valued at 5.6 billion yuan (€723 million) acquired by Shanghai Bairun.

At the time RIO became the No.1 alcopop brand in the Chinese market (44% market share), successfully surpassed their competitor Bacardi Breezer (22% market share). The success of RIO was considered as a business miracle. It brought shareholders more than 100 times floating profit in less than 5 years. There were many factors to make this miracle happened, including precise positioning, innovative products, proper supply chain management, etc. In this article, I will focus on the online marketing strategies applied on RIO alcopop.

In 2013, China’s alcopop market was at the very beginning stage, so the competition between the alcopop companies was about: Who could take over more market share than others in a short period. How to occupy market rapidly became the biggest challenge.

Not only sell alcopop, but also sell feelings

RIO alcopop was designed to vivid colors, packaged in matt glass bottles, evoking a feeling of freedom, happiness, relax and energetic. They targeted young people aging 18-35 precisely. This group of people are pursuing a fashionable and distinctive lifestyle, having substantial purchasing power and emphasizing on quality of life.

In order to get the young generation’s attention, RIO did scene marketing as well. As their commercial showing above, the whole video is under a pleasant atmosphere and the scenarios switch continuously to show the wide availability of RIO. Moreover, RIO sponsored several internet series, reality shows, and dramas to educate young people. After watching the sponsored programmes, these young people would think about drinking RIO when they are in parties, bars, Karaoke, and all kinds of special occasions. RIO caught the point that young people are chasing  pleasant feelings more than consuming alcopop. By selling feelings, they successfully attracted young consumer’s attention and drank RIO alcopop became a fashion tide at that time.

World of mouth(WOM) is the best advertising

With the rapid development of social media and digital network, WOM among young people became the best way of advertising. Young people love to share, and most of them read other’s comments before trying a new product. RIO made a lot of efforts to stimulate EWOM as well; they had staffs in charge of managing and monitoring their online Channels all the time. As the screenshots show, RIO had more than two times posts on Weibo (Weibo is one of the largest sharing and networking platform in China with 297 million monthly active users) than its competitor Bacardi Breezer.


RIO have done a lot of user-generated campaign(UGC) on Weibo. For example, they encouraged their followers to post and share the photos on Weibo with unique hashtags when drinking RIO. And they gave an award to the post writer who gains the most “like”. Moreover, RIO also post compelling contents relate to the current tide on the Weibo frequently. For example, on Valentine’s day, they posted a content saying: “Wondering what the flavor of love is? Try the newest RIO, it is as sweet as the flavor of love”. With doing UGC and posting compelling contents, RIO engaged with their customers smoothly and increased their exposure to potential customers.