China’s imported wine drinking population passes 50 million, boosted by growing participation of Millennial generation
The new China Portraits report from Wine Intelligence, now in its third edition, its showing a marked trend towards the involved and intellectually curious younger consumers growing population for imported wine in china.
Since the publication of the last Portraits report in 2015, Wine Intelligence has witnessed continuous growth in imported wine consumer population. It is estimated that 52 million urban upper-middle class consumers are consuming imported wine in China, up from 38 million in 2014 – an increase of 37% in 3 years. Growing disposable income, coupled with improving distribution logistics, has enabled increased access to imported wine in lower tier cities. The report presents six distinct segments of imported wine consumers in China: Adventurous Connoisseurs, Prestige-Seeking Traditionalists, Developing Drinkers, Social Newbies, Health Sippers, and Frugal Occasionals.
This year’s Portraits report shed new light on two of the growing and increasingly influential segments – Developing consumers and Social Newbies, together accounting for 48% of the total population of imported wine consumers in China, up from 42% in 2015, and a numerical increase of around 9 million people. These increasingly discerning consumers are younger, more experimental and open-minded in their choices. Wine origin and the associated status symbol are less relevant, instead, they are looking for quality, value and service.Wine Intelligence Research Director Chuan Zhou comments, “although China is still in the nascent stage of imported wine consumption, some consumers have already developed a sharp eye for wines that deliver value for money. Developing Social Newbies will become more important and they are taking a more nuanced view of the wines they choose. Wine companies should learn to manage their portfolios and create a broader offering with new and emerging consumer segments in mind.”
First identified in the 2015 report, Developing consumers are the “mainstream” consumers of imported wine in China today. They increasingly drink wine on more diversified occasions for personal enjoyment and relaxation, with choice driven by quality and flavor instead of prestige and social status. While red wine and mainstream varietal like Cabernet ,Sauvignon dominate their consumption repertoire at present, some consumers from this segment have started to explore rosé wine and lesser-known varietals.Social Newbies, typically in their 20s, exhibit very different behavior and attitudes with older generations. This segment grew up in a China unknown to their parents, one marked by extraordinary levels of wealth, exposure to western culture, and access to new technologies. Despite low awareness for brands, a brand they have heard of plays an important role in their decision-making process. As the newest consumers in the category, Social Newbies are seeking brands that are approachable and easy to understand. This cohort represents a promising group of consumers who will heavily influence how wine brands perform in China.
With new consumer segments emerging in the market, the Prestige-Seeking Traditionalists segment is shrinking, in terms of both population and consumption volume. In the new political climate, those remaining in this segment are also changing their behavior and switching to value-for-money wines or premium wines from regions less commonly associated with gifting and business dinners.The other consumer types defined by Wine Intelligence China Portraits segmentation: Adventurous Connoisseurs who see wine as a hobby and an important part of their lifestyle and self-image; Health Sippers who drink wine primarily for the perceived health benefits; Frugal Occasional who are typically motivated by “the price being right” while seeking out promotional offers.