China is a rapidly growing market for wine consumption, as consumers adapt to Western drinking culture. China is among the most lucrative and fragmented markets in the world. It is the third-largest market for red wine consumption in the world. Thanks to its lower alcohol content and perceived wholesomeness, wine is increasingly appreciated by Chinese consumers, who are slowly approaching a product that in 2016 still represented only 5% of total alcohol consumption.
This blog post will give you some tips about how to make your way through this challenging environment and get your product into Chinese consumers’ hands.
China’s Alcohol Industry Introduction
China’s alcohol market is huge, with a revenue of 320 million dollars in 2022. Although China’s traditional and most popular alcohol, baijiu, is still the most popular alcoholic beverage on the market (one of the most consumed in the world), Chinese consumers with more disposable income and gaining interest in imported beverages, like beers, liquors, whiskey, and wine.
Imported wines, beers, and other beverages are gaining popularity, as they are often seen as more extravagant, cool, fancy, or ‘pricey’. Chinese people like to give alcohol as a gift or treat it as something to ‘show off’ to gain Mianzi. Therefore, almost all markets, from the wine market, brandy market, and western spirits, beer, to scotch whiskey and other spirits are very profitable markets that many brands try to seize from themselves.
Although, as you can see on the chart above, spirits and beer take most of the market shares, all of the alcohol types will see significant growth in the next years (apart from baijiu, which is predicted to decline, making room for imported beverages).
China’s Wine Market Overview
According to Global Data, the country’s wine market accounted for $42 billion in 2021. The Chinese wine market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 11% by 2026, which is far more than the overall alcohol market, which is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.40%.
What is interesting is the fact, that as many people perceive wine as something Western, in fact, China has been producing wine since the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). What is more, China is actually the largest grape producer worldwide, contributing to nearly half of the world’s grape production, with Xinjiang being the major grape production region. Similar to Western culture, for many centuries wine was seen as a symbol of social status and luxury in China.
France, Australia, and Chile are in the top 3 of imported wine consumption in China
Imported wine accounts for around 40% of the total wine sales in China. Chinese wine consumers often chose wine producers from abroad, as they believe Chinese wines have worse quality and taste than for example French, or Australian wines. Additionally, imported wine is associated with social status, it’s usually more expensive than domestic wine brands, therefore it’s often served at official parties, banquettes, or given as gifts.
The Chinese wine market is led by France. French wine accounts for about 30% of China’s imported wine and has dominated China for a long time. Followed by Australia and Chile. In 2021, the import volume of french wines accounted for $1.058 billion. Apart from French, Australian, and Chilean wines, Chinese consumers also have a taste for Italian, Spanish, and American wines, but they also import from other countries.
Who are Chinese wine consumers?
The fundamental difference between competitors lies in the strategy. The fact is that the Chinese consumer, although more mature and informed compared to a few years ago, is still not fully aware of the value of specific product categories.
To sell your products in China, you need to understand what Chinese consumers prefer, who are they, and why they purchase wine in the first place. For starters, different generations of consumers in China have different preferences and wine consumption habits.
- Young people in their 20s’, which belong to China’s gen Z are interested in testing new products and are not loyal to specific brands. They are driven mostly by quality and taste and have no problems with changing wine brands according to their preferences. They drink wine with friends, mostly for party purposes.
- Chinese wine drinkers between 30 and 45 years old have a higher purchasing power and more mature taste. They drink red wines and white wines on regular basis, also as a casual drink in a restaurant.
- Consumers that are older than 45 years old are often wine lovers that have developed wine intelligence and are interested in different types of wines. They gladly spend money on imported wines and they like to spend a lot to show off their status. They like to drink bottled wines both outside and at home, believing in the health and beauty benefits of drinking this type of alcohol.
Wine consumption, drinking habits, and trends in the Chinese wine market
According to Statista, the average volume per person amounts to 1.12l of wine in 2022. Chinese people prefer to drink still wine, but the sales of sparkling wine were also growing in recent years. What is important is that around 75% of wine sales are done offline, and the numbers will stay at this level in the next years, which shows the importance of finding good distributors for your wines in China.
Chinese consumers are more educated about wines
The times when buying just any imported wine in China are long gone, with Chinese wine consumers being more aware of the qualities in wines, looking for appellations, medals, and awards in wine producers. They are more knowledgeable about wine consumed in China, and they make their purchasing decisions smartly.
Drinking wine is treated as an experience by many Chinese consumers and we can say that China wine market is definitely maturing, as wine drinkers like to educate themselves, especially online. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to market your wine brand online, educating about its benefits and quality so that consumers know what are they buying exactly.
A lot of wine in China is bought online
Additionally, according to Wine Intelligence, China has the highest proportion of online shoppers among all beverage-alcohol buyers, and the country stands out from all other markets in terms of overall eCommerce penetration and maturity of beverage alcohol eCommerce. Wine eCommerce has tapped into the curiosity of Chinese wine drinkers, enabling them to engage more with the category; the number of wine consumers who have bought wine online has now passed 50%.
Chinese wine consumers are willing to spend more on high-quality wines
As the level of education about wines is changing and the disposable income of Chinese wine consumers is rising, the high-end wine sector is increasing. In 2017 the market share of high-end wines was roughly 15%, but experts predict, that by 2026, those wines will make up nearly 20% of the wine industry in China.
This is good news for foreign wine producers, as it means that China’s imported wine market will grow, recording great wine sales among high-end consumers and wine drinkers that are willing to invest more in good-quality imported wine.
How to sell your Wine in China?
When entering the wine market in China, apart from understanding the preferences and habits of Chinese consumers, it’s also important to know, how they get attracted to brands and how they buy products they like.
There are some steps to follow, in order to be successful in China.
Branding your wine is the beginning of the success
Branding is a crucial issue, not just for imported wines, but for any product in China. If you want to enter the Chinese market, a brand cannot do without marketing. Until a few years ago it was still possible to find an importer or distributor for their wines that were willing to promote them on the territory.
The importance of having a Chinese website optimized for Baidu SEO
Good branding starts with a good Chinese website, hosted in Mainland China, so that your potential customers can look you up in the Baidu search engine, the most popular search engine in China. As we mentioned before, wine consumers want to educate themselves on wines they are willing to purchase and they will check information on Baidu.
Therefore, it’s important to take care of Baidu SEO, which will help you rank high on search result pages, and increase your visibility. You need to focus on keywords, meta descriptions, images, Chinese names, and many more, so it’s best if you hire professionals to do it for you. GMA has been working on many pages in the wine industry, so we can assure you that you will be satisfied with the outcome.
In China having a good reputation is a must
The Chinese population read articles on specialized sites, visits forums on the topic, and takes great care in reviews. Used to confronting themselves in a market full of counterfeits, they are very wary.
For this reason, it is important to pay attention to your online reputation if you want to do wine marketing in China. Before proceeding with the purchase, consumers are therefore used to carrying out extensive checks on the winery, its products, and what is said in the sector.
Apart from checking your website, they will go to your social media accounts, specialized forums (like Baidu Tieba, Baidu Zhidao, Zhihu), and so on. We recommend starting accounts on those platforms, which allow you to comment and talk to the Chinese wine lovers there. You will get to know their preferences while promoting your brand and increasing your Baidu SEO results.
Digital marketing is key to your success in selling wine in China
The Chinese are much more open than us to new technologies. The most effective way to present a product is to resort to the use of videos or captivating photos, and this also applies to wines. Here are some examples:
- Chapoutier: has published video content related to the history of its founder. The image return has been remarkable.
- Moët & Chandon: focuses on the image and relies on designers for the splendid posters of its stores.
Selling wine on e-commerce platforms in China
Chinese e-commerce is booming. Tmall, one of the most popular platforms, in short time has become a real giant and attracts millions of users. Usually, the wines distributed by Tmall are often produced by very popular brands, or they are “low-cost” products.
In recent years, however, they are gradually establishing other platforms specialized in online sales of wines such as yesmywine.com or winekee.com. Vertical channels, which recall conscious consumers, on which it is easy to find high-end products and great quality.
Promoting imported wines on social media platforms
Communication in China cannot be separated from social channels. Most Chinese people, especially young use at least one of the social media platforms in China, with WeChat being the most popular one, gathering over 1.26 billion active monthly consumers as of 2022.
Wechat is a very diverse app, that once was used mainly for short messages, but now grew into a whole ecosystem of sub-platforms and mini-apps. If you want to promote your wines to wine consumers in China, WeChat is one of the best platforms to do so. It allows companies to start Official Accounts, where you can post all the news, new releases, discounts, etc. It works similarly to our newsletters.
Additionally, you can link your Official Account to a WeChat mini-program, where you can have a WeChat H5 brochure presenting your brand and products, which is very shareable and can be a great asset. You can also have your own wine store inside WeChat, with the WeChat Payment method, used by most Chinese nowadays.
Weibo is considered one of those social media apps that is the easiest to attract an older audience, as it’s one of the first ones on the Chinese market (alongside WeChat), so it’s a good spot for you to get to wine lovers of different ages. It’s also an app that allows you to reach a bigger audience, contrary to WeChat, which is better to keep and promote products to a certain follower base.
You can post content in different formats, create pools, lucky draws, discount campaigns, and quizzes, you can educate your audience, and collaborate with Chinese influencers, which can promote your brand to a bigger audience, helping you gain a good reputation and visibility.
Little Red Book/Xiaohongshu is a platform very popular among young women in China. Its content is mostly user-generated, which means that people post there about their lives and the products or services they recommend. It’s a very good platform to gain e-reputation on the wine market in China, as this is the place where many Chinese Millennials and Gen Z check their opinions about products they are interested in.
In addition, you can also collaborate with Chinese influencers on the platform (we will talk about it later), and you can also sell your wines directly there.
Douyin is the Chinese Tik Tok (in fact it’s its mother app), which is focused on short-video content. Douyin has more functions than Tik Tok, with a built-in online marketplace. It’s a good platform to promote wine companies to a younger audience, with a rather funny and educational approach.
KOL’s importance in wine e-commerce
KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders who are Chinese influencers) are indispensable figures for brand promotion. Prominent figures with millions of followers, who in the main Chinese social networks advise the public what to use and buy. Xiaohongshu is a very important platform for KOL’s marketing.
Chinese consumer, unlike Western one, does not find direct sales annoying, indeed, very often the research. It is not uncommon to find within the channels of the KOL direct links to the e-commerce of certain products they sponsor.
This is why, for a product still largely unknown as wine, it is imperative to have a suitable testimonial that tells its value to the general public.
Additionally, KOLs are the best when it comes to live-streaming. They can show your products, generating sales in real-time, with people entering the live streaming session and purchasing the product from the link provided there.
GMA Case Study: Fancy Cellar
The French Cellar imports French wines directly from reputable vineyards. All the wines are delivered with wine-tasting notes, written by their prestigious sommelier for Chinese consumers to learn more about the wines, winemakers and local culture & geography in France.
Solutions for their wine e-reputation
- Community Management
- Exposure to 1 million people
- 25 events
- 50% of keywords on 1st page
Do you need a local Partner in China? Contact us!
Selling wine in China is a very profitable business, as China is heading towards becoming one of developed wine markets, where customers know what they are buying and want to get the best quality products.
But, apart from steps that any company needs to take to succeed on the Chinese market, you will also need help with other tasks (and most likely those mentioned above as well, as they require a good know-how of the market).
Our marketing agency can help you find distributors for your bottled wine in China. We already worked with many wine importers over 10 years and we know exactly what you need in order to make them attracted in your products.
If you want to know more in detail about China’s wine market and how can Chinese social networks help to sell wine successfully, contact Gentlemen Marketing Agency and prepare yourself to succeed!
Here are some of our Food & Beverage case studies:
We are a family-owned vineyard soon to complete winery and vineyard, located on the island of CHIOS, GREECE. We cultivate the local variety of grapes such as Mantilaria, Asyrtico, Lymnio, and Athiri out Of these varieties we have been able to produce four excellent wines that have been awarded Gold Metals by the world-famous CWSA BEST VALUE CHINA WINE & SPIRITS AWARDS 2019. Of these, we have three reds and one white. Of the reds, we have one sweet. one semi-sweet, one dry. and a white dry.
Having worked most of my life in the hospitality industry, and the most famous places in New York City. such as the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the Copa-Cabana night club, and PlayBoy Club, while performing my duties as service supervisor I also performed the duties of a Sommelier and still am a card-carrying member of the sommelier society of America. and as such, I proudly present my wines as among the very best in the world.
Yes, I want to sell to China!!! I have sent to you all the pertinent information about my wines and Company. A few days ago, Expecting your reply. Thank you.!!!
We are a Chinese Retail group, and are searching for niche wine from everywhere in the world, good quality and minimum of awareness in China
we work for Chongqing General Trading Group;
Great We will add you i n our database Mr Zhong.
I can provide the wine, from the region of apuglia in Italy, it is known in Europe, in China not so much yet, but perhaps if you find the value in our service, we can do business, the Brand is Cantolio
we are a European wine company, looking for partners to sell our products in China
Mr. Zho ng we are a Chilean winery that can help you out with a very good and competitive asortment of all qualities of wines, how can I contact you?
We are happy to supply our botte with filter and to collaborate with your company organization in your country.
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We will keep you and your clients safe and healthy while they travel and make their trips responsible and sustainable by completely reducing the need to buy bottled water and hence reduce the impact of single use plastic on our environment and oceans.
In addition, with branded bottles your logo will advertise your organization for months and years to come!
The last branded bottle we made is for UNMAS.org, AWF, WWF etc.
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The bottles are lightweight, weighing just 138g for 75cl and 98g for 50cl.
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I thank you for providing us with the opportunity to collaborate together for a better future and with better water.
I remain at your disposal should you have any questions, comments or remarks.
Looking forward to hearing back from you.
With best regards,
Water-to-Go Switzerland, Benelux, Germany, Austria
Hi there thanks so much for talking about this part of digital business.
Hi, I would like to sell French Wine from our vineyard in Bordeaux to China. Would love to get in contact.
Please, feel free to reach out to us here email@example.com
We will be happy to assist!
Have a great day and I’m looking forward to hearing from you
Hello, I would be pleased to offer Spanish wine for sale in China. Looking forward to create business opportunity for all parties involved.
Feel free to contact-us here
Let’s schedule a phone call to discuss the solution we have for you
We are a wine production house from Austria. We are hoping to introduce our red, white and herbal infused vegan wines to China. Would love to hear back from interested parties. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. 0048-721197191
We will contact you. (sorry just notice your comment Steven).
Email is faster than comment 🙂