9KaCha, known as “China’s Vivino”, created by US-trained Chinese tech entrepreneur has recently signed a deal with the country’s mega social media app WeChat, which would allow it to provide wine search function for its 1.1 billion users.
Launched in 2013, 9KaCha (酒咔嚓) is among a few Chinese language wine apps that have survived the torrents of changes where earlier wine app contenders including Dr. Wine have existed the market.
Similar to Vivino, the Chinese language app allows its users to scan wine labels, share reviews and source wines on China’s leading e-commerce platforms such as JD.com and Tmall.
Its growth over the last few years has caught the eye of investors, one of which is China’s home appliance giant Haier. The company in 2016 invested US$10 million in the app, where its wine database was primarily used to accessorize Haier’s wine cellar business.
In 2017, the wine app’s image recognition feature also piqued Chinese search engine Baijiu’s interest, the equivalent of Google, which is banned in China. It has since been using 9KaCha’s wine database to aide its image search function.
The partnership with WeChat now will likely give the wine app an opportunity to reach beyond Baidu or Haier to nearly the whole size of the country’s population.
“We became the first company to supply wine database to Tencent to identify wine labels,” says its US-based founder Dong Zhifeng, when interviewed by Vino Joy News on WeChat, adding that the app currently has about 1.5 million different wine labels in its database and over 5 million app users.
In addition to using WeChat’s scan feature to search and identify wines, WeChat users can also long press wine bottle images shared by friends on the app to search and purchase the wines on China’s JD.com. Both WeChat and JD.com are owned by tech giant Tencent.
Going forward, the founder says it aims to expand its wine image database and work with more wine producers and merchants directly to serve wine lovers across the country.
He admitted however two of this previous attempts to bring in more American and Australian wines were corked by political tensions.
China’s tariffs on American wines in 2019, followed by hefty tariffs slapped on Australian wines essentially ended his talks with many hopeful Australian wineries.
Despite its growth momentum, 9KaCha at the moment still pales in user number when compared with Vivino, which boasts over 50 million app users.
Vivino earlier also revealed that it’s looking at China for future growth, as we have reported.
China has about 50 million wine drinkers, which means that 9KaCha so far only captured about 10% of the country’s regular wine drinkers.