China Wine Market Conference Reveals How Smaller Brands Can Connect with the Consumer

The fully-subscribed China Market Conference at Vinexpo Hong Kong featured a distinguished line-up of industry experts comprising moderator Don St Pierre, CEO of Vinfolio; and panelists Master of Wine Sarah Heller; Alberto Fernandez, Managing Partner of Torres China; Mike Hu, President of the FMCG Business Unit of Alibaba’s Tmall; and Tommy Keeling, Head of Asia Pacific Research at IWSR.

Changes in the structure of the wine industryin China have seen the previous dominance of a handful of large and established brands such as Margaux, Concha y Toro, Penfold’s and Torres gradually making way for smaller brands, much like the trends seen in the fashion and beauty industries, the panelists noted.

Alberto Fernandez of Torres said that while wine producers previously relied heavily on a single importer to represent them, now wholesalers were often going to wine producers directly, changing the nature of the market significantly. However, some concerns were expressed that this has made it harder to build brand equity in the China wine market.

“There is definitely interest among Chinese consumers to explore new brands that fit with their lifestyle, but wine producers need to invest in providing more content and engaging with wine influencers and key opinion leaders to create interest in their brands,” said Tmall’s Mike Hu.