Economic growth, rising wages, and purchasing power have made it possible to develop substantially new consumption patterns for Asian markets. The trade in alcoholic beverages, including that of beer, has undergone a sharp increase in the Asia-Pacific area, counting increasingly numerous competitors, between local and foreign producers. Since 2002, China has occupied the first place for production and consumption of beer, and it is expected that by 2019 it will also exceed the United States, currently in first place for total value of transactions It is expected that the Asian beer market will reach a value of 220 billion USD by 2020, with growth annual rate of 5 percent.

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China’s beer industry is entering a new era, and it finds itself needing to satisfy a new set of cravings

IMPORTED BEER LEADING

China’s millennials are fast emerging as decision-makers with increasing purchasing power. Traditional narrow product offerings domestically have left a gap in the Chinese alcoholic beverage market which could be filled with imported products. Chinese consumers see imported premium beers as part of a modern lifestyle and an adventurous experience, in which they can try new flavors and brands.

The continuous growth of imported beer is reflective of the rising demand by consumers for trading up.The leading beer exporter to China is Germany, followed by the Netherlands then Belgium, and France ranked fourth. Imported beer sells at a relatively high price compared to local beer, and as a result, it offers more profit to distributors and retailers.

CHINESE ARE SHIFTING TO CRAFT BEERS

In Kirin Beer University’s December 2017 report on world beer consumption by country, China is not only the first in terms of market share and consumption, but it is also one of two countries among the top 13 beer consumers in the world with growth positive in consumption year after year. So if you combine these numbers with the growth of wealth in the middle / upper class, and add a dash of innate classism, you have a lot of potential craft beer drinkers.

The Chinese middle /upper-class consumer is the key to craft beer producers because even if they LOVE their foreign expatriate and expert drinkers, they know that in the long run, their future depends on Chinese consumers. The Chinese palate is slowly opening up to Western tastes, and young Chinese returning from overseas college are among the first customers of craft breweries. According to Beijing’s “Great Leap Brewing,” young Chinese are joining foreign clients. In a short time, they are becoming 70% of the brewery customer base. A couple of years ago, craft beer made up only 0.3 percent of total beer consumption. It has since risen to about 5 percent, said Darren Guo, one of the exhibition’s organizers, who expect to see 30 percent growth in the craft beer market every year until 2020

STEPS TO FOLLOW IF YOU WANT TO SELL YOUR CRAFT BEER IN CHINA

Since China is a country where Digital influences the purchases of 3 out of 4 consumers, it is fundamental to understand its dynamics.

To sell craft beer online in China you must have a website adapted to the Chinese market

For a good SEO you need first of all a Chinese site, with Chinese hosting: Baidu, the main Chinese search engine, does not better index websites with foreign hosting and written in other languages. Your website must also respect Chinese standards and Chinese taste: there is often a lot of information on the homepage, with small characters, often stronger colors, animations and more lively communication in general, and on the site many details.

This is very important because Chinese consumers are used to researching a lot of information before buying a product, due to falsifications and food scandals. Word of mouth and information on the internet are therefore essential. Moreover, in an e-business site, Chinese consumers want to find precise and immediate information with the price, the product, the description, without wasting time. Chinese consumers do not like to waste time searching for information or during the payment process.

 In China, you have to do SEM and/or SEO on Baidu

After putting up a good site to sell wine online in China you have to promote it on the Chinese web. For this, it is important to know that the most important search engine in China is Baidu, which controls over 70% of the market. So you can advertise on Baidu with search engine marketing (or pay per click) that works like Google AdWords on Google. Pay per click (or SEM) is particularly effective for a short-term strategy.

The problem is that sometimes it proves to be particularly expensive if not managed professionally: constant monitoring, search for suitable keywords (they are not often the same as the western ones), reports that understand the best performance etc. You can also try the SEO on Baidu, which is a great long-term strategy and is particularly effective when all the competition uses the SEM.

E-commerce is the future to sell beer online in China

The beer sector is no exception to sales growth through Chinese e-commerce platforms. It is important to engage in e-commerce either through your own site or using platforms like Tmall where thousands of bottles of beer are sold each month. Undoubtedly, opening an online sales channel should not be seen as a shortcut to selling but as a piece of an integrated and planned marketing and sales strategy.

It is important to use social networks and contact Key opinion leaders (KOL)

KOL are people who have a great influence on the internet and on the general population. They have many fans, in some cases millions, and sometimes have some experience in the wine market. Also important is location, we often have very strong influencers in a region, in a city, even in some cases a district of a Chinese city (do not forget that megacities like Beijing and Shanghai have over 20 million inhabitants, and there are dozens of Chinese cities with more than 5 million inhabitants).

You can and must make your brand and your site is known through KOLs, triggering a chain effect among their followers. The aim is to spread a good opinion about your beer and your brand. In a collectivist and hierarchical society like the Chinese one, KOLs have more impact than we do.KOLs have a major influence on social networks. You must know that 95% of the inhabitants of first and second-tier cities have at least one account on local social networks. Needless to say, the Chinese consumer who is targeting craft beers lives in big cities.

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