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Zonin: China ‘presents a challenge’ for Italian wine

Francesco Zonin, the vice president of Zonin has said despite heavy investment, China still presents a challenge for Italian wine producers.

“There’s a lot of competition in China from other brands,” said Francesco Zonin to dbHK.

“The whole world wants to be there because there’s the impression that China wants everything. But it’s taken years of hard work and investment on our part to be present.”

Zonin’s heavy focus on China has resulted in the launch of a range of three wines, targeted to the China market.

‘Primo Amore’ (first love) was created purely for China’s second tier cities, including Tianjin, Chongqing, Chengdu, Wuhan and Xiamen after a two year study by Zonin into the Chinese market.

It comprises three wines, Croatina, Moscato and Prosecco and is aimed at the emerging middle class of Chinese wine consumers in a bid to introduce Zonin’s expansive Italian heritage.

Zonin established its Shanghai office in 2015 and has focused on marketing its Primo Amore range, as well as its Prosecco brands through its 40 regional distributors.

Primo Amore’s distinctive label depicting the colours of the Italian flag in a heart shape on a black background has also helped gain Zonin more brand recognition – especially its Prosecco.

“It’s our job to understand the consumer,” said Francesco. “Labels have to be simple, recognizable and easy to pronounce. Our Prosecco is aromatic and low in alcohol and appealing across the board.”

Francesco also highlighted that Italy still only claims 6% market share in China and is facing stiff competition from the likes of New World producers such as Chile and Australia.

“We as Italian wine producers have a big job to do. Italian wines still lag behind France, Australia, Spain and Chile.

“When drinking Italian wine, it’s not just about the brand but also the people, stories and history that come with it and it’s hard to get all of that across in our communication if we’re not there in person.”

With 11 estates strewn across seven regions, Zonin is still best known for its Prosecco, which Francesco has heralded to be the “uniter” of Italy.

“People up and down the country drink it,” he said. “Any bar you walk in to will have at least one brand.”

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