In an online post for clients, the global wine market research, branding and strategic advice group predicted five key market developments in China, from an explosion in online retailing to ‘shrinking bottles’.
1. Accelerating online sales
Wine Intelligence’s analysts said their data showed that 2/5 of the top Chinese wine retailers in the country – Yesmywine and Tmall, only sold wine online, and they expect this trend to accelerate in 2013.
“Firstly, technology is evolving to make it possible. Mobile internet is becoming more widespread and accessible to growing numbers of consumers, and sales of tablet devices are soaring.”
The firm said its research showed that tablet owners were twice as likely to buy wine online, while well-reputed specialist retailers like Yesmywine would likely benefit from fake product concerns.
2. Fighting fake wine
With China’s problem with fake wine out of control – testified to by the recent discover of 10m bottles of fake Lafite – Wine Intelligence said that the country had an issue with “all manner of food scandals, some involving supply chain corruption, some of which are a real threat to public health”.
“Steps are being taken, by individuals, corporations and the authorities, to expose and prevent such wrongdoing. Look out for China’s first fully traceable wine, sold at Metro, with a barcode which shoppers can scan, and see exactly where the lot has come from, all the way back to the vineyard.”
3. Shaking-up imports
Despite a penchant among wealthy Chinese for top-end Bordeaux, more middle-class entrants within the wine category meant that the nation’s import list was starting to change, Wine Intelligence’s analysts said.
“It’s also true to say that some of the business leaders who’ve favored cru classé may also change their tastes, for fear of being saddled with a fake.
“Consumers of all descriptions will be keen to find better value for money where they can. We expect France to continue to lead the field, but Bordeaux’s pre-eminence could be under threat.”
4. Tier-2 cities grow wine nose
With the wine market now focused on Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Wine Intelligence predicts that increasing wealth in 20-30 so-called ‘Tier 2’ cities will be the main wine trade growth engine in 2013.
“There are currently around 20m consumers of imported wine in China, just 1.5% of the population. Wine Intelligence expects the number to rise to around to around 80m by 2020, with the bulk of new drinkers coming from Tier 2 cities,” the analysts wrote.
Suppliers will increasingly opt for smaller format bottles, which Wine Intelligence believes may prove especially popular among younger consumers, who are still unsure about wine and reluctant to buy 75cl bottles.
“Alternative packaging, like cans and pouches, may have a longer term future, but is unlikely to find favor at the present time,” the research firm’s analyst said.