What kind of retail value does wine currently have in China?
Currently, value for retail wine in China varies widely. A low or mid-ranged retail wine in the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai can go for anything between $2 to $15, or $100 or more for a good imported wine off the shelf.
Is it just foreign wines that are popular or, indeed, do domestic wine producers control the market?
Foreign wines dominate the high-quality sector of the wine market. After explosive growth from the mid 1980s to around 2000, it has leveled off a bit in the last seven or eight years, but it’s still Bourdeaux and Bourgogne, the expensive appellations that remain the most popular retail wines. Increasingly, as wine-drinkers start to broaden their tastes and individually assess wines, New World wines are becoming especially popular thanks to their lower price-point and accessible taste. The low-end market retail wine in China is traditionally seen as controlled by Chinese producers such as ChangYu and Dynasty, though they are growing steadily.
What are the biggest challenges foreign or domestic wine producers face in the Chinese retail market?
The biggest challenges faced by foreign wine producers is shifting from a high-end, expensive luxury brand image which is suffering in China’s economic slowdown and particularly in the political anti-graft and anti-corruption climate; many wine-makers have seen their sales hurt as official banquets with expensive wines are no longer being held. Also, higher-end wine-makers are having to find ways to compromise between their brand’s luxury allure and the reality that shopping trends are increasingly favouring online shopping platforms. For domestic wine producers, the biggest difficulty is overcoming their (in some cases unfounded) reputation for being lower quality.