Lenovo owner sees strong potential in ‘chaotic’ Chinese wine market


From producing Lenovo computers to selling fine wine: Sun Jun, general manager of the new wine business of Joyvio Group, a subsidiary of Lenovo IT giant Legend Holdings, talks to DecanterChina.com about the company’s expansion.

Joyvio Group, the agriculture subsidiary of the Legend Holdings, launched its imported wine business in China at the end of 2013, as the market struggled to cope with the government’s austerity measures.

‘It is currently chaotic in the Chinese wine market, with numerous brands and various qualities and prices,’ Sun Jun told DecanterChina.com in an exclusive interview.

Despite the chaos, Joyvio believes that there is ‘great market potential and space for further improvement’, because ‘the concept of a healthy and high quality lifestyle has become deeply rooted among the people, and the consumer demand for wine is increasing rapidly,’ said Sun.

Legend Holdings is most famous for its personal computer business, and so there have been doubts about its ability to adapt to wine. But, its move reflects wider interest in both importing and selling wine among China’s biggest companies.

‘As a member company of the Legend Holdings, we do have some obvious advantages,’ Sun argued. ‘Legend Holdings has its brand reputation and social influence, plus its marketing channel network and customer resources.’ He added that the group has employed an experienced wine team. ‘We also set up teams in major fine wine regions all around the world, as well as established strategic partnerships with prestigious wineries.

‘But, of course there are challenges to face,’ Sun added. ‘We need to enhance our brand influence and popularity in the wine market, and get experience of operating the wine business.’

Image: Sun Jun © Joyvio group

Sun said that he personally began to understand wine only in 2013, when he moved to his current position. ‘When we started the wine business, most of our team members were working in the IT industry. But everyone passed the WSET Level 2 in a short time and became active in different wine communities.’

According to Sun, Joyvio sold 500,000 bottles of wines from Chilean winery Emiliana and from French merchant Jean-Pierre Moueix in its first year of business.

The company also developed more than 300 different sales channel partners that include both wine expert channels and some original IT channels. And apart from putting the wines on the shelves in more than 100 national and local chain supermarkets such as RT-Mart and MerryMart, Joyvio opened some community shops in Beijing, Xi’an, Kunming and Shenzhen.

‘Our aim is to promote the popularity of fine wine in China, create tasting opportunities for the Chinese consumers, and bring fine wines into hundreds of thousands of household in China,’ said Sun.

He and his team have already held more than 200 tasting events across China, from first-tier cities to the sixth-tier county towns.

‘There were various formats of the tastings in accordance with the requirements of the clients,’ he said, ‘such as high-end fine wine dinners, professional tastings, internal trainings for the clients, cross-industry cooperation events and so on. Most of the clients were interested in wine and the healthy and high quality lifestyle, so they were willing to learn.’

Image: Joyvio tasting event © Joyvio group

With the direct communication to the consumers, Sun summarised some characteristics of the people in different tiers of cities. ‘Consumers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have more sophisticated wine knowledge. For these people, our events normally focused on professional information, concepts and culture, like vertical tasting and high-end wine dinners,’ said Sun.

‘But consumers in the less developed cities lacked the knowledge of wine and wine culture. So, we started from the basics to help them developing an interest and basic understanding of wine.’

At the first anniversary of its wine business, Joyvio announced strategic partnerships with French winery Mas Belles Eaux and Australian wineries Burch Family Wines and Kilikanoon Wines.

Sun said the strategy is to recruit wineries that are ‘prestigious with long histories in the prestigious wine regions; the quality of their portfolios has to be excellent and stable; the wineries insist in self-winegrowing and winemaking; every bottle of the wines has to be estate-bottled.

‘In the future, we will expand our selection with fine wines from Spain, New Zealand and South Africa, in order to cover the star regions in both the Old World and the New World,’ said Sun.

For the new year, Joyvio has set a sales target of one million bottles. ‘Apart from the regular Joyvio Fine Wine Festival and the celebration event for the second anniversary, we are attending the Tangjiuhui Spring Edition for the first time, and will continue to expand the depth and breadth of our tasting events.’

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