No. 5 Wu Shaoxun of Jingjiu
Net worth: US$3.6 billion
Head of Jingjiu, China’s most successful medicinal alcoholic beverage, Wu Shaoxun is a pioneer in the country’s profitable herbal drinks category.
Born in 1956 in Hubei province, Wu worked in a textile company following his stint in the military. In 1987 he joined Daye medicinal drinks company, which was later renamed Jingjiu after Wu bought it from the local government.
At the time, the distillery was generating about RMB 5 million in sales but it was RMB 7 million in debt. Every bottle sold, it was actually losing money. Its breakthrough moment came when Wu was doing a market research tour in southern China in 1989. He found that many locals love to infuse baijiu with medicinal herbs and decided to carve out a niche in medical drinks market.
Although the brand set itself up as a herbal and medical drink, it is also reputed for its taste and flavor profile. According to Chinese reports, Wu would personally test and taste all new products to ensure he himself likes the drink before releasing it to the public.
For all new products, Wu would ask the company to allocate himself about 200 liters. The drink would then be tasted among his family and friends for detailed feedback. He also created a professional tasting team, where their accommodation and food are all taken care of by the company and their sole job is to taste the drinks.
The brand’s success story is also linked to its famous advertisement that made it a household name. Aside from Jingjiu, its parent company Jing Brand also owns Maopu Jiu and Chizhengtang. At age 66, Wu’s net worth is estimated at US$3.6 billion by Forbes in 2022.