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Diageo’s Wilson Del Socorro on APAC beverage trends for 2024

Diageo Wilson del Socorro

Diageo, a prominent player in the beverage industry, is keeping a watchful eye on the evolving beverage trends in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

The company recognises the growing importance of moderation in the beverage alcohol marketplace, with a projected increase in the demand for no- and low-alcohol options.

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Furthermore, consumers in APAC are demonstrating a shift towards prioritising their health and well-being, leading to a rise in the preference for premium non-alcoholic beverages. This trend, driven by the influential Generation Z demographic, is reshaping consumer habits and behaviours.

Diageo in February launched a campaign centred on responsible consumption,  tapping Korean pop star Suho. First launched in South Korea, the campaign has made its way across the region to Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Retail in Asia speaks with Wilson Del Socorro, corporate relations director, APAC at Diageo, on Diageo’s approach to understanding the APAC market and its commitment to meeting consumer expectations while promoting responsible drinking practices.

Retail in Asia: What are some beverage trends Diageo is keeping an eye on in the APAC region?
Source: Diageo

Wilson Del Socorro: Moderation is now firmly embedded in the beverage alcohol marketplace, with IWSR data forecasting no- and low-alcohol volumes to grow by 6 percent CAGR between 2023 to 2027 across the top 10 markets. 

Diageo’s inaugural Foresight Report, Distilled, noted that more people are placing greater emphasis on their health and consumers are rethinking their approach to what makes them healthy and happy. 

This could mean consumers are opting to drink better or even choosing premium non-alcohol options. Gen Z consumers are driving this trend, and we anticipate that it will continue to shape habits and behaviours. 

We’ve also seen APAC consumers become more selective in their choices as they seek to drink better, and not more. There is a growing interest in exploring and experiencing new quality spirits, which align with our focus on premium spirits and products. 

There is a greater appreciation for experiences that celebrate local culture. APAC consumers are looking for brands to interact with them in more authentic ways. According to WGSN, consumers are expecting brands to offer more personalised and locally curated experiences beyond mere transactions.

In APAC, we have long connected our brands with local culture. For instance, Johnnie Walker Blue Label has a rich history of Lunar New Year releases, with each year bringing a beautiful bespoke pack and bottle design celebrating the Zodiac sign of that year. The designs are developed in collaboration with leading Asian artists, with the most recent Year of the Dragon design created by Chinese visual artist James Jean.

Diageo Johnnie WalkerRetail in Asia: How is the practice of moderation aligned with Diageo’s business ambition for the region?

Del Socorro: Promoting responsible drinking is a core pillar of Diageo’s Society 2030: Spirit of Progress 10-year global ESG action plan to help create a more inclusive and sustainable world. 

We actively work to transform the way people drink for the better by promoting moderation and addressing the harmful use of alcohol. This includes an ambition to reach one billion people with messages of moderation by 2030. 

DRINKiQ is Diageo’s global online resource that aims to inspire consumers to take action. It invites them to learn more about moderation, drink better, not more, and shape a long-term positive change in their attitudes to alcohol.

In line with this key priority, we continue to invest in education programmes to encourage moderation and reduce alcohol related harm.

As an example, we partnered with the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to launch “Wrong Side of the Road,” an interactive drink driving awareness and education programme.

Last year, in partnership with local authorities in Vietnam, we launched a new digital gamified experience of the programme to engage and educate more consumers about the dangers of drink driving. 

One of our longest-running global programmes is Smashed, where we use theatrical performances in live and online formats to educate about the harmful use of alcohol and underage drinking. We partner with schools, local government, education partners, and community groups in the APAC region. To date, over 290,000 young people have experienced Smashed and learned about the harms of underage drinking.

Retail in Asia: Diageo has launched a new campaign. Can you tell us about that, and how it is being rolled out across Asia? 
Source: Diageo

Del Socorro: We have partnered with global K-pop superstar Suho from EXO to launch our responsible drinking campaign across the Asia Pacific region. 

We chose to work with Suho given his demographic of fans. Also, each EXO member has an affinity to an element as part of their band persona or superpower and Suho’s affinity is with water, an element linked with moderation.

The campaign has gone live in South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam.

Featuring an original soundtrack recorded by Suho, a music video, and a short behind-the-scenes (BTS) film, the campaign aims to highlight the importance of savouring each moment, moderation and enjoying alcohol responsibly.

Targeting to engage adult consumers of legal drinking age, we leveraged EXO and SUHO’s social media platform to reach a global audience and encouraged active participation in conversations about responsible drinking.

The campaign also directs audiences to Diageo’s DRINKiQ site, a centralised hub featuring valuable information, resources, and educational materials about alcohol and responsible drinking practices. 

Retail in Asia: How does Diageo define success when evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign?

Del Socorro: Our aim is to reach and engage consumers on moderation in a way that resonates with them and so far, the results are very encouraging. From the launch of the campaign to date, the music video has amassed over 5.2 million views across Instagram, X, and YouTube.

Leveraging the popularity of K-pop and the influence of Suho, the campaign has reached and engaged a wide demographic, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries.

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We’re encouraged to see that the campaign was able to leverage a cultural moment and Suho’s influence to bring attention to responsible drinking and moderation and spark people to think more about drinking better, not more.