Young women key to China wine rise

China’s imported wine drinking population has doubled since 2012, and the new consumers are mainly under 30 and female.


38 million Chinese urban middle class drink wine at least twice a year, including a growing number of women aged between 18 and 30

According to a Wine Intelligence study, China’s urban middle class imported wine drinkers totals 38 million people, up from 19 million three years ago, representing a rise of 100% since 2012.

Chuan Zhou, who handles Wine Intelligence projects in China, explained during a seminar at ProWine in Shanghai on 12 November that this figure comprised people who drink imported wine at least twice a year, adding that the number falls from 38m to 23m if one considers regular consumers – defined as those who imbibe imported wine once a month.

But the potential for growth is enormous, and Zhou pointed out that the current number of imported wine drinkers are just 10% of China’s urban adult population (aged 18-54) – which totals 378m.

However, the urban adult “middle class” is rather smaller, accounting for 95m – having defined middle class as those city dwellers with a personal month income before tax of more than ¥6,000 (approx. £635) in tier 1 cities, and ¥4,500 (approx. £470) in tier two developments.

Speaking about the expansion among imported wine drinkers, Zhou recorded that Wine Intelligence research showed that both younger and female consumers had accounted for much of the rise.

“In 2012, the first time we studied the Chinese market, only 30% of imported wine drinkers were under 30 years old, and three years later, it accounts for nearly 50%,” he said.

Continuing, he observed, “And three years ago females were one third, and now they are almost half of the imported wine drinking population.”

As a result, he said, “Now there are more younger female drinkers in the market, brand owners need to think about how to target this changing population.”

Then, when considering why the Chinese drink wine, Zhou explained that Wine Intelligence consumer surveys had shown that a “perceived health benefit is still the top motivation”, with almost 50% saying “yes” when asked if they consume wine to reduce the risk of heart attacks or blood clots, for example.

However, similar to other wine drinking countries, he also said that wine was increasingly consumed for “functional enjoyment – it helps them to relax, and also they are starting to like the taste,” he said.

Other reasons included “self expression – they think that wine indicates that they are doing well, makes them feel sophisticated and modern and open to a western lifestyle,” while he also said that there was a “social expectation to drink wine among friends and business contacts”.

Summing up, he said, “there is no single reason why the Chinese drink wine, it is a combination of motivations.”

China wine drinkers

The demographics of Chinese wine drinkers. Source: Wine Intelligence



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