Chinese Drinking Culture, Explained

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Chinese Drinking Culture: a Crucial Part of Doing Business

Drinking is a serious business in China. It is an integral part of the culture that continues to thrive. Unlike the West’s freestyle way of drinking, the Chinese’s is more controlled, ritualized and purposeful. Successful business deals are commonly accomplished with cups of alcohol, while social gatherings and regular dinners are not complete without rounds of drinks. Mersol & Luo makes the business of drinking in China, a growth opportunity for your business by finding the right methods for distribution and targeting consumers.

The Chinese’s Taste in Alcoholic Beverages

Baijiu, a traditional Chinese spirit, remains the favorite alcohol for Chinese consumers, notably among the male population. While the fiery vodka-like liquor still dominates the market, imported liquors have been gaining traction, with brandy and whisky in the lead.

The beer market has been growing steadily. Sales amounted to over US$72.6 billion  in 2019. Local brands like Snow and Harbin remain in demand, while foreign ones like Carlsberg and Budweiser are not far behind.

The growth of wine market has slowed down, with a 4.3% increase from 2019 to 2020. Red wine continues to be the wine of choice in Chinese banquets, as the color resembles good luck, happiness, and success.

China’s Changing Drinking Habits

Interestingly, as the Chinese alcohol drinker population turns younger and consumption among women becomes higher, there is a notable decline in sales of baijiu in the market. More consumers are shifting to beverages with lower alcohol content due to health concerns, while also developing a taste for premium alcohol.

This change in the drinking preference of the Chinese is attributed to the country’s growing middle class. With disposable income rising, they are more adventurous in choosing their alcohols, preferring exotic ones that express their personality. Craft beers are becoming popular in the market, as well as foreign brands of wine and brews.

China’s demand for imported spirits remains high. Sales of brandy and whisky continue to boom, as imports total to million liters every year. Chinese consumers have also taken a liking to vodka, rum, tequila and gin, considering the alcohols’ stable performance in the market.

With online shopping becoming a norm in China, a lot of people are buying their alcoholic beverages from e-platforms. Over 55% of Chinese consumers order booze online, where they can choose from a wide selection of local and imported drinks. Savvy consumers conduct research online before making purchases.

Closing Thoughts on Chinese Drinking Culture

Considering the evolving preferences of the Chinese in their alcoholic drinks, the right time for foreign businesses to enter the market is now. China’s demand for imported and premium products will only continue to grow in the next years, creating many opportunities for beverage makers. Because most Chinese are unfamiliar with different types of imported alcoholic beverages, businesses that invest in consumer education are likely to reap additional revenue in the long run.

Mersol & Luo supports companies to succeed in the Chinese market by guiding through having a reliable marketing plan, products suited to the changing taste of the consumers, strategic branding and market penetration, particularly online to support e-commerce.

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