First we must talk about Jinro. The soju brand towers above the South Korean spirits landscape – and also the world. Last time we measured, it had stacked up 71m cases and this year it has added another 4% growth, which at this scale means almost 3m cases. In 2008 the soju weighed in at 76m cases before losing 12m cases in a single year. Since 2012 it has been a tale of recovery for Jinro, with the brand – through its most popular sub-brand Chamisul – regaining almost all of its volumes.
Its arch nemesis, Lotte Liquor’s Chum Churum, is also going well, outperforming its foe with 16% growth. It is dwarfed by Jinro in volume terms yet is the third largest brand in The Millionaires’ Club, with sales of 31.7m cases.
Here’s Euromonitor International’s Jeremy Cunnington on the soju market: “Despite its massive size (1.4bn litres in 2015) and supposed maturity, South Korea’s soju has continued to grow. The latest innovation is flavoured variants in response to the rise of international spirits categories – particularly vodka which had grown strongly as it tapped into younger consumers’ desire for mixed drinks.”