Top Portuguese brewery Empresa de Cervejas da Madeira (ECM) from the Madeira archipelago – birthplace of the renowned footballer Cristiano Ronaldo – is re-entering the Chinese market with the Coral beer brand, just in time for the Chinese New Year of the Tiger.
The company is betting on major Asian markets such as mainland China, Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore and the strategy was put together in partnership with two companies from Macao, Mindware and the Portuguese East Indies Company.
ECM is coordinating its marketing campaign to coincide with the start of the year of the tiger, with the first batch of containers arriving in mainland China in the region just in time for the celebrations.
The export director of ECM, Gustavo Coelho, told CLBrief that the company is returning to a market that accounted for around 20 per cent of its production in the past.
“The first containers were shipped almost two months ago – the recovery of this Asian market is of great importance for the company. It is seen as a recognition of our business credibility but also of the quality of our brands,” Coelho said.
Referring to Coral’s performance before the pandemic, the export director of ECM explained that “our previous presence during 2016-2019 helped to build an excellent reputation in the Chinese market, and this return reflects that and our future expectations are good. The brand wants to grow sustainably in this market, but also in the surrounding markets such as Macao and Hong Kong.
“The Chinese beer market is very particular, volatile and full of opportunities. But it is necessary to know how to do business in China, and this partnership substantiates this, bringing together a lot of experience, making it versatile, multicultural, with ‘hybrid’ characteristics, capable of reacting quickly and keeping up with fashions and trends in China,” said the managing partner of Mindware, Diogo Couto.
A Chinese beer market specialist, Couto perceives that “ECM and its products, such as Coral beer, are very popular among Chinese consumers, who value quality”, adding “Madeira is a premium and quality place, and this perception is already noticeable in the Chinese public.”
“In this way, we were able to assemble a model with the right people and the right approach so that a family owned brewery beer brand, such as Coral, will succeed as much or more in the Chinese market as any big multinational brewery,” the Macao-born partner stated.
According to the representative of the Portuguese East Indies Company and vice-president of PORCHAM South-China, Vitório Rosário Cardoso, “the further expansion of the brand in Asia must be sustainable and in future it will be very important to consolidate operations in the Greater Bay Area.
“Regarding other Asian markets, we are watching and analysing carefully with local partners but one thing is sure: we will make good use of the renowned destination of the Madeira Islands that is so well known as well to the English-speaking expatriate communities in Asia, namely in Singapore, to promote Coral Beer. Equally importantly, we are aiming at some specific markets in Southeast Asia to supply to the Portuguese communities living abroad.”
The Portuguese Empresa de Cervejas da Madeira (ECM) produces and distributes its own brands of beer, as well as Brisa soft drinks as and Atlântida bottled water.
Over the years, ECM products have won 171 Monde Selection medals.