Huge purchases on the internet, increase in personal consumption, internationalization of lifestyle – these are signs that the wine market in China is getting bigger and changing at high speed! This meant significant prospects for importers, analysts, and professionals, as observed at the Vinexpo show in Bordeaux.
China Wine Consumption: From 5th to Being 1st
The numbers speak for themselves! By 2020, wine authority VINEXPO believes China, the fifth largest wine-consuming country in 2012 and the world’s 4th largest importer, is expected to account for 71.8% of the growth of the import market by volume. This was based on the IWSR (International Wine and Spirit Research) study made by VINEXPO.
The rapid growth of an affluent Chinese middle class is the key to this market’s evolution. According to the study conducted by the consulting firm Wine Intelligence, between 2011 and 2017, the number of consumers of imported wine has more than doubled, from 19 to 48 million people.
A Constantly Evolving Market
The wine market in China is constantly evolving. Terry Xu, an influential Chinese wine blogger, more than confirmed this view while at a VINEXPO event in France when he stated: “Just forget everything you knew about this market.” Director of French Wine Paradox, Gregory Perret, who specializes in the mass distribution of wine in China, is quite happy to share that the Chinese population now purchases wine as an end consumer. Indeed, what used to be purchased as a gift to others has now become increasingly bought for personal consumption.
– “We create the niches” –
Among the drivers of change in the wine market are the young people belonging to the upper middle class, the Chinese millennials. This was observed by Wine Intelligence researcher Chuan Zhou. He also attributed the boost on consumption of wine to the increased travels to Italy and France of these young Chinese as well as the effects of the photos they place in their social media networks.
In this context, the market is diversifying rapidly, whether in terms of the origin of the import, the price of bottles, or types of wine, thus opening up prospects for all wine-producing countries. In the Chinese market, “there are not really niches, we create the niches,” explains Gregory Perret.
The Chinese wine market has, therefore, become a great target for various wine producers. For instance, Georgia, which appeared on the market just four years ago, now ranks as the tenth largest importer of wine. Much of this success is attributed to China buyers.
The other popular variants of wine include, among others, the sparkling Italian Moscato. The white wine, particularly the top brands, are also becoming quite popular. Only a couple of years ago, the bulk of wine purchased by China is either cheap or top brands. However, as the Chinese population started to acquire more knowledge and experience about wine, they began focusing on the mid-range brands.
Wine Market in China, an Online Driven Market
Besides the increased number of specialized shops in China, the development of online shopping has greatly contributed to bringing wine product closer to the Chinese consumers beyond megacities.
By early 2017, Wine Intelligence observed that 48% of Chinese consumers who drank foreign wine have sourced their goods online. The major Chinese and international portals TMall (owned by Chinese internet giant Alibaba), Wine.com, JD.Com, Wall Mart, Carrefour, and Amazon are leading the field. Being an online country, China is making use of all these portals for their wine consumption.