Italy weighs up options in China2nd April, 2014 by Rupert Millar
Vinitaly International hosted a roundtable event in China recently to try and see how Italian imports to the country might be lifted into double figures.
With Italy’s market share in China now around 6%, Vinitaly International held a roundtable event at the Chengdu Wine Fair late last month to discuss Italy’s standing in the country and how wine imports might be boosted.
“The problem,” explained the Italian ambassador to China, Alberto Bradanini who was present at the discussion, “Is that in China, Italy is not seen as one of the wine-producing countries. We are known for fashion, for tourism but when it comes to wine, the Chinese automatically think of France.”
Also present at the event were Augusto Massari, the First Economic Advisor of the Embassy; the Consul General of Chongqing, Sergio Maffettone, and two representatives of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China.
They were joined by 15 Italian importers from five major Chinese cities (Chengdu, Shanghai, Gunagzhou, Beijing and Shenzhen).
The main bone of contention was the fractured nature of Italy’s marketing efforts.
Roberto Rossi of Amore Wines in Shanghai argued: “There are too many initiatives and collectives, all separate and without direction.
“We have to make sure the knowledge of Italian wine is on the same level as that of French wine.”
The participants were “unanimous” in their belief that Italian wine needs to clarify its message if it is to make further headway in China, as well as the need for better co-operation between importers themselves.
One tool that will soon become available for the importers is the creation of a group on social media site “Wechat”, the most popular social media app in China.
A page on the Chinese equivalent of Facebook, Weibo, will also be created for Vinitaly which can then serve as a hub for Italian initiatives.
Vinitaly is also organising a series of masterclasses to take place at Sial China from 13-15 May.
Vinitaly acknowledged these are “small steps” but added they are, “all toward the same goal: increasing the knowledge of Italian wine, a necessary condition for increasing the sales of our wine in China.