3 Okinawan liquor makers hold strategy meeting with foreign marketing specialists to develop the “Awamori Brand”

3 Okinawan liquor makers hold strategy meeting with foreign marketing specialists to develop the “Awamori Brand”

The “Ryukyu Awamori” international development team (from the front row, left-to-right): Zuisen Distillery CEO Gaku Sakumoto, Kumejima’s Kumeisen’s CEO Shujin Shimabukuro, Chuko Distillery CEO Tsutomu Oshiro, Blueship CEO Hiroumi Keimatsu, and 5 foreign marketing specialists. January 7, Chuko Distillery in Naha.


January 8, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

The consulting company Blueship Okinawa (Naha, CEO Hiroumi Keimatsu) and with three Okinawan liquor makers held a press conference at the Chuko Distillery on January 7, announcing the development of a branding project with the goal of expanding “Ryukyu Awamori” into overseas markets. In order to explore the possibility of Awamori as a hard liquor akin to whiskey or other spirits, they are developing a three year plan for selling the liquor overseas as a base for cocktails as a way to enter the vintage market.

This will be a joint operation between Chuko Distillery, Zuisen Distillery, and Kumejima’s Kumeisen. The planning will be handled by Blueship, and will make use of the Okinawa General Buruea’s Okinawa International Hubcluster. In order to improve Awamori’s recognition as a hard liquor, the companies are working on developing new cocktails with Awamori as its base. They are developing a test product for sale in certain American and Western European markets that could be ready as early as next summer, and will be conduction marketing research at foreign bars and restaurants.

At the press conference, Blueship CEO Hiroumi Keimatsu said of the undertaking, “We are conducting product development and branding for Awamori with the help of experts, in hopes that it will lead to sales in the United States and Europe.” Chuko Distillery CEO Tsutomu Oshiro added, “A large part of the international market is dominated by hard liquor. We want to pursue the potential of Awamori, which has history throughout the world.”

In order to construct a sales strategy and product development for the overseas market, the group has invited five marketing experts from the United States and Europe to tour the distillery and for consultation from January 4-10. Natalie Sokoloff, the marketing team’s project manager, said regarding the appeal of Awamori, “I look forward to tasting the differences between new batches and vintages. While it bears similarity to the clear and colorless vodka, Awamori has a smooth taste that cannot be compared. You get the impression that it’s the ‘real deal.’”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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