China Wine Market: Millennial Drinkers Are Buying Online And Moving Away From Established Brands, Vinexpo Hears

Young wine drinkers in China are strongly influenced by their friends and social media, and have few preconceptions when it comes to the wine market in general, heard visitors at day one of Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018.

Almost every seat was taken in one seminar room on the first day of Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018, with an audience of mostly wine producers keen to find out more about the latest trends in the China wine market from a panel of experts.

They heard that consumer patterns and preferences are shifting, with young wine drinkers buying online and moving away from established brands, both domestic and imported.

“Before, [older wine drinkers] saw scale as evidence of success, but wine is agriculturally dictated, depending on how much wine you can get from the land,” explained Sarah Heller, a Hong Kong-based master of wine, at the seminar at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. “The younger generation understand that small boutique wines can be beautiful. You’re already seeing it in fashion brands.”

Heller went on to say that two-thirds of Chinese people who shop online for wine are born after 1980. “When they consume wine information, they want visuals that give them a feeling; that can be conveyed through videos [and] conversations with winemakers.”

As a wine consultant, Heller admitted she sometimes has trouble deciding whether to describe a wine as having raspberry or cranberry notes, but young Chinese consumers are much more interested in words like “mellow” and “smooth”.