China currently has over 800 million internet users and of these some 98% access the internet via their smartphone. This incredible rate of adoption of the smartphone has been mirrored by the development of apps like WeChat which allow users to make online purchases, send messages, and upload and share social media content. With WeChat now claiming over 1 billion active users, this ubiquitous app offers an immense opportunity for wine brands to showcase and sell their products on one convenient platform.
The most obvious way that wineries and wine brands can benefit from WeChat is by using the app to sell wine. WeChat Wine allows wineries or brands to create their own online store front with information about the winery and listings of the wines you wish to sell. This store is then available to the millions of WeChat users who can purchase these wines directly and easily through the app.
To make things really easy for Australian wineries and wine brands WeChat Wine coordinates all the logistics of getting the wine delivered to the customer in China. Wineries are then paid in AUD direct into their Australian bank account. Similar apps exist for wines and spirits from other countries.
WeChat also represents a valuable marketing opportunity thanks to the huge numbers of app users and China’s growing interest in imported wines. China’s KOLs or Key Opinion Leaders can help with this strategy by creating exciting content which directs interested consumers to the winery’s WeChat Wine page where they can purchase products directly. A good example of this is the Chufei and Churan twins, also known as “the Kardashians of China”, who recently partnered with Wine Australia to document and share a two-day tour of Australia’s varied wine experiences with their more than one million followers.
This marketing opportunity also extends to cellar door visits. With over 1.4 million Chinese tourists visiting Australia each year and the growing Chinese appetite for wine tourism, there is a high level of interest in visiting Australian wineries amongst Chinese tourists. WeChat allows wineries to market their cellar door visitsand also enables Chinese visitors to Australian wineries to purchase wine easily by scanning a QR code at the winery which directs them to the WeChat winery page to complete their purchase.
Another vital role that WeChat can play in the Chinese wine market is through the sharing of wine knowledge. This can happen through wineries’ WeChat pages, but it can also happen through groups like the so-called “Wine in University” which has over 7000 members. The group is made up of students from 28 universities across China who use the app to connect with wine experts and discuss a wide range of topics from winemaking to running a wine business.
The format of the group typically includes an hour-long talk by an expert in a particular field which is followed by an interactive Q&A session when students can ask any questions they might have. This unique educational tool is informing and educating China’s wine consumers of the future, and thus building a new segment of consumers who are knowledgeable about wine and better prepared to seek out interesting imported wines.
The potential for wineries and wine brands to use WeChat is huge, both in terms of direct sales and marketing opportunities. As the Chinese wine market becomes increasingly dynamic, now is the moment to take the plunge and make WeChat work for your brand.