Chinese wine consumers are opening up wallets for finer things in life, one of which is imported wine for both home consumption and gifting, compared with three years ago, according to findings from an HKTDC survey.
Despite this year’s pandemic, 1,440 mainland wine and spirits consumers in eight different Chinese cities polled by Hong Kong Trade and Development Council in May said they are upping their budget on wines.
Compared with a similar survey done in 2017, the survey found that the price paid by the participating consumers had increased by about 40% either for home consumption and gatherings, despite the pandemic.
According to the survey results, the respondents spent an average of RMB 273 on a bottle of imported wine for their own consumption at home, RMB 268 for gatherings with relatives and friends, and the price for business events and gifts increased significantly to RMB 887 per bottle.
Their yearly spending on wines as a result also increased. The respondents spent an average of RMB1,407 a year on buying wine for home consumption, RMB1,354 for gatherings with relatives and friends, and RMB3,284 for business events and gifts.
The price paid by consumers for wine varies slightly depending on where they live.
The average price paid by respondents in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing for buying a bottle of imported wine for home consumption was close to or more than RMB300 (Guangzhou RMB297, Shanghai RMB313, Beijing RMB285).
Meanwhile, the average annual expense for respondents residing in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu to buy wine for business events and gifts was about RMB3,500, higher than the average RMB3,000 paid by residents in the other four cities (Changsha, Nanjing, Xi’an, and Harbin).
Whether buying for a particular occasion or throughout the year, the respondents paid more when they purchased imported wine for business events and as gifts.
Though in most cases, consumers showed equal preference for imported wines and domestically produced Chinese wines, a clear preference for imported bottles prevailed in cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou.
This is due to the belief that mainland consumers in general believed that imported wine was of superior quality because of grapes, terroir, and winemaking techniques.
The survey also found that consumers with higher income and wine knowledge tend to splurge more on wines.
The average price paid by respondents with a monthly household income of over RMB30,000 for a bottle of imported wine was RMB417, significantly higher than the overall average of RMB273. These higher earners were also more generous with their spending on imported wine for business events and as gifts, at RMB4,230 a year, compared to the overall average of RMB3,284.
Wine and Chinese food pairing
One of the interesting findings from the survey is that consumers in China do care about food and wine pairing but the cardinal rule is to match wines to Chinese taste.
According to the survey, 68% of the respondents said the wine must complement the diet of the Chinese people. As the cuisine varies across China, wine merchants should check that a particular wine matches with the local food. One focus group participant said: “China has a diverse food culture where wine and food are closely related. When I choose wine, one of my most important considerations is to pick one that goes with the food.”
When choosing a wine mainland consumers also look at the brand and region of the wine. Products “from well‑known wine production regions” (56%) was one of the important strengths for an imported wine entering the China market.
Another 48% of the respondents named “memorable trademark design and Chinese brand name” and “promotion conveying the message of a special middle‑class lifestyle” as important strengths in reaching the mainland market.
For the full report, you can read it here.