Wine becoming ‘part of the life style’ for Chinese urban wealthy

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More middle class Chinese consumers have started to drink imported wine regularly and in informal environment, indicates a survey by the Wine Intelligence research group.

In its latest China Wine Market Landscape Report released in June 2014, Wine Intelligence (WI) estimated that the number of urban upper middle class* consumers drinking imported wine hit 38m in 2014, double that of 2011.

It based its calculations on a survey of 1,004 wine drinkers age 18-54 from nine cities in China.

Those surveyed drank imported wines almost 3 times more often in informal settings, such as at home, rather than formal occasions, such as business dinners. Around 88% of those from tier 1 cities (in this research Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai), considered wine ‘an important element to their lifestyle.’

While year-on-year wine imports to China are down, and government austerity measures have curtailed the market for high-end wines, many merchants and producers expect that the middle market will expand in the long-term.

‘China is undergoing a second revolution, as imported wine evolves from a face-enhancing gift into a social drink for the aspirational new urban wealthy,’ Wine Intelligence said.

Almost half (44%) out of the 1,004 surveyed were aged between 18 and 29.

Among those surveyed, most consumers shop at least some of the time in hypermarkets (65%) and wine shops (62%), while department stores (52%) and online (47%) were also popular sales channels.

The average spend on a bottle of wine in the off-trade was ¥257.59, while the average spend on business and dinner could be as high as ¥517.86, WI said.

However, the authenticity of imported wines was a big concern for the middleclass drinkers surveyed. One out of 5 questioned said they were concerned that they ‘don’t know if the wine is real or fake’.

*According to the report:

Upper-middle class is defined as those who earn monthly income before tax:
- 6,000RMB or above in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou;
- 4,500RMB or above in Chongqing, Wuhan, Chengdu and Shenyang.

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