As the largest potential market for alcoholic beverages, China remains a challenging market for foreign players. It is critical to keep up with the latest trends and rapidly changing consumer preferences in order to harness the potential opportunity the market has. Mersol & Luo supports clients in extensive feasibility and market analysis to ensure importing alcohol into China is strategic and mitigates common risks.
Key Trends of Chinese Consumers’ Changing Preferences
Chinese Consumers are Upgrading Their Lifestyle Purchases
The first noticeable trend is that Chinese consumers are acquiring a taste for premium alcoholic beverages preferring their complex flavors, high-grade quality and better taste. According to Credit Suisse Research Institute, the growing middle class is spending more to upgrade their lifestyles, on premium products rather than mass-marketed products.
Craft beer is gaining popularity in well-developed urban areas, while there is a burgeoning group of wine enthusiasts in China, who are mostly affluent young with an appetite for imported, fine wines.
Millennials Driving up Consumption
The well-educated, adventurous and outward-looking Chinese millennials are eager to try new products. Unlike their older counterparts, who prefer established luxury alcoholic drinks such as burgundy and Bordeaux for gift-giving purposes, the millennials show preference towards alcohol from lesser-known brands and regions and while also making more purchases for personal consumption. This younger generation sees imported, novel alcoholic drinks as fashionable and individualistic— and a trendy way to express themselves. China has many different demographics and tastes throughout each region and city, Mersol & Luo provides clients with the knowledge of which target markets are a good fit for their products and has the most accepting potential customer base.
Enthusiasm for E-Commerce
Purchasing alcoholic beverages online in China continues to increase in popularity, driven by ease of access, cheaper prices, and fast delivery. Many importers in the industry are taking advantage of China’s ubiquitous, well-developed e-commerce infrastructure to lure the new generation of Chinese consumers.
Young Chinese consumers conduct thorough research online before making purchasing decisions. According to Wine Intelligence, 62% of the imported wine consumers in China look up information and reviews online before making purchases. They are strongly influenced by their peer’s recommendations on social media which they find to be more genuine than celebrities or KOLs.
Increasing International Travel
As outbound tourism grows in China, with it has become a new way for young Chinese consumers to discover new alcoholic beverages. These travelers visit restaurants, bars, or vineyards to discover new products and brands, and share them with their friends at home.
Closing Thoughts on Evolving Preferences of Chinese Consumers
Chinese consumers tastes are maturing as the market continues to evolve. Imported alcoholic beverages will continue to draw attention. However, in order to succeed in the highly competitive Chinese market, it is important to pay attention to the evolving preferences of Chinese consumers—focusing on the premium market, tailoring messages to millennial Chinese, adopting an effective online strategy, and attracting Chinese travelers.
Mersol & Luo continually conducts research and interacts in the importing and distributing communities in China to ensure that companies we work with are not only relevant but are aware of any upcoming trends and how to best position for them.