Making Your Alcohol Brand Ready for China

Introduction

With its fast-growing economy, China is considered by many foreign alcohol companies as one of the most ideal markets for imported goods. The opportunities are large and expanding due to the Chinese’s never-ending thirst for imported alcohol.

How to Make Your Alcohol Brand Ready for China

Before selling in China, beverage makers must consider what their target consumers want in terms of alcohol strength and flavor, as well as the packaging of the product. It also pays to know where they usually buy their alcohol, what their purchasing habits are and how they respond to different marketing campaigns.

Varietal/Alcohol Content/Flavor

China’s love affair with red wine has yet to wane, based on the booming sales of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz in the market. White wine, sparkling wine and champagne also have developing fanbases, especially among female consumers. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in fortified wines.

For beer, Chinese drinkers are shifting from the usual lagers to more premium and craft flavors. The sales of premium non-alcoholic or low-calorie beer are also rising as consumers become more health conscious. For spirits, brandy remains the most consumed, but other hard liquors like vodka, rum and tequila have been making huge inroads.

Packaging

Packaging has become an important factor in a consumer’s purchase decision. China’s young adults are always looking for innovative and attractive designs that are Instagram-worthy. Those with bright colors and bold logos are usually more appealing to them compared to the classic-style packaging.

Meanwhile, more consumers are sold on the idea of smaller bottles for alcohol. Some high-quality wines are offered in small portions to replicate a tasting room in the comfort of the consumer’s home. There is also the current trend for single serve and ready to drink formats as well as pouches and bag-in-box.

Purchasing Habits

Young Chinese consumers tend to be heavily influenced by their peers’ purchasing decisions. They are also tech-savvy and search for information online before buying. These drinkers, however, are known for frequently switching brands. Taste is their primary reason for choosing alcohol, then price and accessibility. Meanwhile, China’s more mature drinkers have brand loyalty.

Brand reputation is an important criterion for the Chinese, especially for liquor. They value authenticity and quality in their spirits and only trust those with good comments and recommendations. Cis rampant in China’s spirits market, making consumers cautious. But in recent years, the government has been cracking down on the said problem.

Sales Channels

While traditional brick-and-mortar shops remain the go-to purchase channels for the Chinese, online platforms have become popular. In China, people age 20-39 spend an average of three hours a day surfing the web. Nowadays, consumers buy almost everything online. They like the wide selections of products available and the convenience of home deliveries.

E-commerce is a good opportunity for foreign brands to sell their products in China. Around 55% of Chinese alcohol drinkers order their booze from online shopping platforms. Many companies benefit from placing online ads and engaging consumers through social media, like WeChat and Weibo. They also entice buyers by giving out rewards and coupons.

Campaigns and Promotions

Festivals and tasting events are effective ways to promote products in China. These generate brand awareness and help companies build personal relationships with potential clients. Some winemakers even band together and conduct tours in local wineries. Freebies and appreciation gifts are given out to gain loyal customers.

Meanwhile, some of the top marketing trends in China involve smart use of social media, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and live-streaming campaigns. Digital marketing has come a long way in the country. WeChat and Weibo remain the biggest players among social media and networking platforms, but others like Meipai and TikTok have also been gaining followers.

Parting Thoughts

Success in China involves a lot of trial and error, trying to discover what works and what does not for discerning consumers. It is best to always keep abreast with the changing trends and consider the evolving preference of the Chinese in their alcoholic drinks.

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