Business Alessandro Torcoli

Chinese wine market: discover the secrets

Chinese wine market: discover the secrets

After New York and Milan, I flew to Hong Kong to take part in the International Wine & Spirits Fair. And I would like to write a few words about this. The advantage of a rather limited fair, basically two pavilions, is that it leaves you time to attend the seminars. The one on the winemaking industry and the one on the Chinese wine Market were enlightening. Justin Cohen, from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science of the University of South Australia, presented the update of a study on the local consumer, based on a sample of over one thousand people.

Chinese wine business

Many stereotypes were destroyed: in China, iconic wine, for gifts or special occasions, those that created problems for the system after the anti-corruption campaign, make up only a small part of total consumption. The truth seems to be that too many hopes were laid on this immense potential market. And someone took advantage, causing concern in the minds of consumers who appreciate wine and that humbly wish to know more about it, but who don’t want to be treated like idiots (and who does?).

THE KANGAROO’S REVENGE – There is a common thread this year in Hong Kong: we are referring to the conference on “How to invest correctly in wineries”, almost all Australian, complete with the urge to buy property in that continent. And to think that every time someone buys a vineyard in Italy we almost raise the alarm against the barbarians, whereas here they can’t wait for someone to bring some money in and keep the economy going. The thread therefore is stretched by the kangaroo, also an important presence at the fair, with a national and regional participation from the Yarra Valley. So the commercial slowdown that has hit Australia, whose plan to conquer world markets based on quality production in massive quantities set up a few years ago, hasn’t worked. And the winemaking industry has promptly changed direction: now ultra premium production of high-level small and medium wineries has increased. In 1993 there were 737 wineries in Australia, in 2013 there were 2573. So, anyone who has given the kangaroo up for dead, think again.

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THE CONSUMER – Getting back to the fair and the Italian participants, there were a few top producers. We met some world-beaters, like Luca Sanjust and Luca D’Attoma, but at the stand of their local distributor, in perfect Prowein style. Only a few small businessmen had their own space, and these had the appearance of those waiting for someone to pass by rather than those who have prepared a battle plan to face the market of eternal illusion. And with this, let’s return to the most interesting subject that emerged from today’s report on the “state of the art”: China should begin to be seen as an emerging market, of new consumers on the rise, and not lunatics who mix cola with Petrus.

STARTING WITH STYLE – The young people monitored by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute drink wine at home with friends, when they order it at a restaurant they are guided firstly by the memory of a previous good tasting, and then by a potentially correct food-wine match. And be careful: when they buy in a shop, the main drive is not the origin or the variety … it is the style. What makes you aware that you want a fresh or light red, a white with good aroma or structure. Words that we almost tend to ignore by now, thinking them banal. But listening to the consumer and his needs, i.e. marketing, is the opposite of snobbery.

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