China is one of the most important export markets for many wine producers. Chinese consumers are becoming more discerning about wine quality and an increasing number of people have developed a keen taste for good quality wine.
According to EUSME’s latest webinar, China’s imported wine reached the value of EUR 2.5 billion in 2017.
In 2017, China’s total wine imports increased by 17.4% in volume and 18.3% in value.
Bulk wine, bottled wine and sparkling wine imports all experienced healthy growth in 2017.
The top three exporters of sparkling wine are France, Italy and Spain.
The top three exporters of bulk wine are Chile, Australia and Spain.
A typical bottle imported into China, according to EUSME, is a young red wine oaked for three months.
We have included below a few key points for wine producers to think about when selling wine into China.
1. Intellectual Property
Before you engage in any activities in China, remember to register your trademarks first as China uses the first-to-file rule for trademark registration. If you enjoy high brand awareness in your home country, it’s possible that someone in China have already registered your potential Chinese names. You can read this post to learn more about intellectual property risks and protection in China.
2. Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is very important when it comes to selling your wine to the Chinese market. Chinese consumers are very digitally savvy and love using mobile payments instead of cash. It’s not an exaggeration to say that China is transitioning into a cashless society.
If you work with a distributor, you can use the checklist below to assess your digital marketing efforts.
- Are we going to work with KOLs (key opinion leaders) to promote our wine?
- Are we going to do some additional marketing on e-commerce platforms that sell our wine?
- Are we going to set up a Weibo account for our brand?
- Are we going to set up a WeChat Official Account for our brand?
- Are we going to do any WeChat/Weibo advertising?
- Are we going to run search engine advertising campaigns on search engines like Baidu, Sogou and 360?
- Are we going to monitor/reply to online customer reviews on our wine?
- Are we going to post on influential industry websites?
- Are we going to answer questions about our wine on questions and answer platforms like Zhihu?
WeChat and Weibo accounts can be expensive to run if you don’t have a Chinese employee. It is also a long-term content marketing strategy that may take a while to produce results, unless you spend a lot of money on marketing to drive traffic to your WeChat and Weibo accounts.
You can read more about the top 3 social media platforms in China in this post.
3. Search Engine Keywords
Below is a list of top keywords that Chinese Internet users use when searching for wine on Baidu. Consumers are particularly interested in knowing which wine brand is the best.
- Wine Top 10 Brands
- How to make wine
- Effects of wine
- Which wine brand is good?
- Wine brands
Baidu’s 2017 search data has revealed some interesting patterns about Chinese consumers.
Those who searched for foreign alcohol are more likely to show an interest in luxury products. Those who searched fore beer showed interest in entertainment and 3C products. Those who searched for baijiu are interested in travel, finance, education, careers and cars. Wine is often associated with beauty, health and hobbies.
Below is a graph showing the association between alcohol type and interests.
According to Baidu, here’s the percentage of searches related to different types of alcohol.
4. Online Wholesale (B2B) Platforms For Merchants
Where do Chinese merchants get wholesale imported wine? Where do your distributors sell your wine online? Below is an example of top sites that are used to distribute imported wine to small businesses.
5. Online Retail (B2C) E-commerce Platforms
Where do Chinese consumers buy wine online? Besides the big general e-commerce platforms like Tmall and JD, below is a list of e-commerce sites that are dedicated to wine selling.
The prevalence of the Internet has made it easier than ever to sell to Chinese consumers. There is also a growing number of consumers who are open to trying new and high quality food and drinks. However, it’s important to note that besides the points mentioned earlier, there are many other areas to consider such as Chinese labeling, GB standards, due diligence, import taxes and tariffs and more.