How to market wine to Chinese consumers

The Chinese are not traditionally known as big wine drinkers, however, China’s wine market is thriving as middle class Chinese consumers increasingly develop a palette for wine.


The growth is particularly good news for Australian wine brands, which have seen a 51% increase in exports to China in the last year to reach $1.04 billion. This, coupled with the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) which will see export tariffs removed in 2019, will provide Australian wine makers with a huge opportunity to build their brands in China.


China is now the most valuable market for Australian wine exports which means wine companies need to invest more in marketing to build awareness and engagement among Chinese consumers.


While marketing activity has previously relied on offline techniques such as in-store activity, gifting and wine events and dinners, the shift to digital and social media is becoming a crucial channel for brands looking to grow.


According to a recent Nielsen Survey, 38% of shoppers in Tier 1 cities, such as Shanghai, make cross-border online purchases for wine. This is also being driven by younger consumers who are developing a taste for wine as part of the growing trend for aspirational lifestyle choices.

UMS has collected some key tips for wine companies looking to market their brands to Chinese consumers.


1.Employ storytelling techniques

The challenge for Australian wine brands is to generate awareness of the brand, the products and the stories behind the wineries and vineyards. As many Australian brands are family-operated wineries, there is a wealth of stories and history to share to help build engagement and connections with young Chinese consumers. The beauty of digital and social media platforms is that they enable brands to bring these stories to life and create compelling content assets.


2.Live streaming and video events

With Chinese consumers huge appetite for live streaming and video events, brands need not stop at telling their history, but can also create events and educational videos to further educate the market about particular wine varieties and regions. Live streaming video on platforms such as Weibo and Yizhibo or sharing short videos on Douyin or Weishi are great ways for brands to connect with young consumers and bolster awareness.


3.Co-branding and joint marketing activities

The popularity of wine regions presents brands with excellent opportunities to team up with other brands to create regional marketing campaigns. This activity could include tourism or travel brands, food brands from the area and even other wine brands from the area. Taking this approach means brands can pool resources and investment to create more noise in the market and target a larger audience. Areas such as New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay have run activity like this, and it could easily adapt to other regions such as Australia’s Clare Valley, Barossa Valley or Margaret River.  Brands can also leverage this activity to work with local Chinese food and restaurant brands to drive further engagement.


4.Work with KOLs

Working with relevant key opinion leaders is an excellent way to generate awareness and interest in your brands and products. Brands can invite KOLs to visit wineries and encourage social media content creation and sharing to promote the location and create desirability around your products. New Zealand wine brands have enlisted high profile KOLs such as Fongyee Walker and Lady Penguin to generate interest and awareness.  Brands can also work with Chinese-based KOLs to create content and leverage their huge follower-base.