Imported wines first started to appear on Chinese dinner tables over three decades ago when they were regarded as luxurious status symbols and were purchased by the country’s wealthiest individuals. In recent years, though, wine has become far more accessible to the average Chinese consumer. Today it is a popular choice for a wide section of society and it is more common than ever before to see people choosing wine as an everyday drink to accompany their meal or social activities.
This profound shift in status for imported wines from a luxury good to an everyday drink has opened up significant opportunities for foreign wine producers and brands to enter the Chinese market. Examining this change in greater detail is a useful exercise for those wishing to understand the Chinese consumer mindset and how best to meet the future demands and wishes of Chinese wine consumers.
Higher Disposable Income
One key change in the past few decades has been the meteoric rise of China’s middle classes. Most of China’s 48 million regular wine drinkers are members of this relatively new and affluent middle class and this group is predicted to rise to 70-80 million people by 2020. Clearly this growing sector offers incredible potential for wine producers and brands who are able to respond to China’s rapidly changing and developing wine market.
Linked to the rise of China’s middle classes is the emergence of a young, highly educated sector of society who are fascinated by the wider world. As well as wishing to demonstrate their knowledge of the wine world and the gastronomic traditions of Europe, these young men and women also care about their health. Wine is perceived as healthier than traditional Chinese spirits which tend to be very high in alcohol. These two reasons are driving more and more young professionals to purchase wine on a regular basis both to enjoy at home and when they dine or socialise outside the home.
The final important change over the past decade is the dramatic diversification of the Chinese wine market. When wine first started to gain popularity as a luxury item, most imported wines were from top names in Bordeaux, Burgundy and other traditional European wine regions. Today, though, the market is far more complex with imported wines competing against the 6.29 million hectolitres of wine produced in China in 2018.
Standing out from this crowd of wine producers isn’t easy which is why it is essential for brands to create a targeted marketing approach. Showcase your wine to Chinese consumers and top buyers by entering the China Wine & Spirits Awards Judged by 100 of China’s most influential BUYERS.