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 for hundreds of years. 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 even regular dinners are not complete without rounds of drinks.

The Chinese’s Taste in Alcoholic Beverages

Baijiu, a traditional drink, remains the favorite alcohol for Chinese consumers, notably among the male population. It is the drink of choice in business meetings, weddings and other important events. No wonder, baijiu and other specialty spirits like Korean soju accounted for 98.2% of China’s spirits market in 2016.

While China’s fiery vodka-like liquor still reigns supreme in the market, beer has been steadily gaining popularity. Sales continue to rise, with a 34% growth year-on-year. Local brands like Snow and Harbin remain in demand, while foreign ones like Carlsberg and Budweiser are not far behind. Other alcoholic beverages that are making a ruckus in the market recently are imported whiskey and wine.

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 and more consumers are shifting to beverages with lower alcohol content due to health concerns. There is also a developing 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 different e-platforms. Over 55% of Chinese consumers order booze online, where they can choose from a wide selection of local and imported drinks. Savvy ones even conduct research on the Web 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.

To succeed in the Chinese market, having a reliable marketing plan is crucial. Products must suit the changing taste of the consumers. Since e-commerce is flourishing in the country, businesses should consider boosting their online presence to reach out to clients. The marketing campaign must likewise resonate with the target niche for the brand to stand out and gain attention. It is also important to note that most Chinese are still unfamiliar with different types of imported alcoholic beverages. Businesses that invest in consumer education are likely to reap additional revenue in the long run.

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