Young Chinese wine drinkers driving 'fundamental' change

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A power shift in China’s imported wine market has seen a switch from traditional, high-end wine connoisseurs to younger and more casual drinkers, says a new study.

Image: young Chinese consumers talking to producers at the
2014 Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter © Decanter

According to Wine Intelligence’s China Portraits 2015 report, a brand new wine consumer segment has emerged since its last study in 2012: Developing Drinkers, typically younger and less involved consumers who tend to buy wine at mainstream or entry-level prices.

These people are more likely to be graduates, working in high-earning professions and in their late 20s or early 30s, who have picked up the wine-drinking habit at business dinners, but are now drinking wine in their social lives too.

‘Over the past three years, the Chinese market for imported wine has begun a fundamental transformation,’ said Wine Intelligence COO Richard Halstead.

‘We are moving from the era where prestige wine was only bought as a face-enhancing gift towards a world where consumers care more about how it tastes – because they will be drinking it themselves – and how much it costs, because they are more likely to be paying for it themselves as well.’

The study of just over 2,000 urban upper middle class imported wine drinkers suggested that Developing Drinkers account for about 19% of the country’s imported wine drinking population.

The report also pinpoints five other consumer types or ‘Portraits’ among China’s estimated 38m imported wine drinkers: Adventurous Connoisseurs, Prestige-seeking Traditionalists, Social Newbies, Health Sippers and Frugal Occasionals.

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