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Chinese drinkers looking for less expensive wines

As the Chinese economy slows, new figures confirm that Chinese consumers are seeking out less expensive wine brands.

Drinking wine for pleasure…the Chinese are seeking out mid-range wines

Analysts Wine Intelligence found that in the first quarter of this year, 60% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 50 spent less than CNY200 (€25) on imported wine.

€25 is generally recognised as entry-level wine in China. An earlier survey in January this year had found that fear of buying a fake wine was the biggest barrier to entry for imported wines, with 44% of respondents saying it put them off buying.

‘There is a growing trend for drinking wine for pleasure rather than serving it at banquets or giving it as gifts,’ Maria Troein, China manager for Wine Intelligence told China Daily.

‘There are now new market segments of younger drinkers who like to drink wine that fits into their lifestyle.’

Thomas Jullien, who represents the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (CIVB) in China told Decanter.com, ‘There’s been a rebalancing of the imported wine offers in terms of price points. For Bordeaux it has meant that intermediate levels have outgrown entry level and high end, permitting the medium range to catch up. This is also a segment that has been actively promoted in China through the Simply Bordeaux program with appellations such as Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur, the Cotes and Cru Bourgeois.’

The changing market conditions are pushing Chinese producers to develop brands that better fit market demand, in line with the slowing Chinese economy.

Lina Fan, representative for Shou Rui Wu, new owner of Chateau de Pic in the Cotes de Bordeaux, said that this was the market segment that they will now be concentrating on. ‘The market for very cheap Bordeaux in China is diminishing, as other countries are now filling that price point, plus the very highly priced wines are losing steam.

‘But we have identified a huge development potential at €5-6 (ex-chateau). The quality mid-range wines have a strong future in China, and that is what we are looking to develop at Pic.’

Wine Intelligence estimates that there are around 19 million drinkers of imported wine in China, aged between 18 and 49.

Further pressure has been heaped on European wines in China with the annoucement from the commerce ministry that it is launching an enquiry into EU wine being dumped in China at below cost price. The move has come after the European Commission announced it is imposing anti-dumping tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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