Sparkling Wine in the Chinese Market 2018 - Press release: Traditional stereotypes have held back sparkling wine in China – but consumer views are changing, according to a new report by Wine Intelligence
Sparkling Wine in the Chinese Market 2018For Immediate Release: Friday 9 February 2018
Traditional stereotypes have held back sparkling wine in China – but consumer views are changing, according to a new report by Wine Intelligence
The first Wine Intelligence report on Sparkling Wine in the Chinese Market shows that a new wave of consumers may be starting to overlook traditional stereotypes that have previously held back the bubbly drink in China.
Sparkling wine consumption China has been minimal compared to still wine. For example, China consumed over 160 million 9-litre cases of still wine in 2016, but only 1.6 million 9-litre cases of sparkling (source: the IWSR) – in other words, the equivalent of 1% of still wine versus a norm in most other markets of around 10%. According to trade sources conducted for the report, the majority of Chinese consumers have yet to discover sparkling wines such as Champagne, Cava and Prosecco, mainly because of a lack of awareness and strong associations with celebrations and special occasions. Data collected by the Wine Intelligence Vinitrac® China Sparkling survey also shows that the majority of urban upper-middle class drinkers of sparkling wine are more likely to drink red wine, with 73% reporting they have drunk red wine in the past 12 months, compared to 29% who have drunk Champagne and 28% who have drunk Italian sparkling wine.
However, this could all change as the market is seeing a proliferation of inexpensive sparkling wines under 100 RMB through online and offline retail channels. This is making sparkling wines more affordable to the average consumer, particularly young professionals, since more expensive types such as Champagne had been previously out of their reach. According to the Wine Intelligence survey, equal number of men and women are consuming sparkling wine in China, with over half (52%) aged under 35 years old. The younger generation of Chinese – the urban educated millennial cohort who have graduated from university in the past 10 years – are now exploring beyond the traditional red Bordeaux that their older peers once flocked to.
Importers and retailers predict that the non-Champagne sparkling wines will soon lead to a breakthrough in coming years, due to the typically lower price and flavour being more suited to the Chinese palate – both of which allow consumers to enjoy it on informal and frequent occasions. Confirmed by both trade sources and the consumer survey, the style of sparkling wine that has the greatest potential in China would be sweet (not sugary sweet like candy but sweet enough to balance the high acidity in sparkling wine), slightly sparkling (think frizzante) and exhibit pronounced fruit flavours.
Chuan Zhou, Research Director at Wine Intelligence commented, “there should be a bright future for sparkling wine in China overall because it connects with the needs of the young generation who are moving away from the ‘ganbei’ or ‘bottoms up’ drinking culture. However, Chinese consumers have yet to discover the diversity of sparkling wine, and education remains key to increasing their awareness and appreciation of the beverage. Conveying the message that sparkling wine can be drunk at informal occasions such as gatherings with friends is crucial.”