Influence the influencer: NZ wine makers target China

By Ankush Chibber

- Last updated on GMT

New Zealand’s wine growers take aim at Chinese market

Related tags: New zealand, Chardonnay

Wine makers in New Zealand are planning to use an “influence the influencer” strategy in an aim to increase their market share in China’s booming wine market.

Monty James, market manager for Asia at New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), told FoodNavigator-Asia that interest in wines from New Zealand is definitely growing among Chinese wine drinkers.

NZW, an industry association, recently held road shows across in the two major Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai, where both events saw a rise of 91% and 25% respectively in attendance. At Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong in May, the association saw attendance grow by 25% compared to 2010.

James revealed that the export market to China has grown significantly over the last two to three years -53% year-on-year for this period for volume of exports, but the opportunity is much larger.

Growth based on awareness of consumers

According to data from NZW, New Zealand wines trail at number eight behind wines from France, US, and even Australia in China’s wine import market. While France shipped wine worth US$400m to China in 2010, New Zealand’s share was worth about US$12m.

James said that this primarily was because the Chinese consumer’s perception of French wines is that they are superior to wines from other regions and countries.

The Chinese wine drinker clearly has a lean towards wines from France, but this does not mean wines from the New World cannot break into the market,”​ James said, pointing to Australia, which claimed the second spot in 2010, shipping wines worth US$157m to China.

James remarked that going forward, the association’s agenda would be to grow awareness about the premium and fine quality of New Zealand wine amongst the Chinese wine-drinking segment. “New Zealand wine is a high quality offering that comes at a premium price point and we will work to get that message across.”

Going focused

James told us that given the production capacity of the country, there is a more realistic aim in terms of the market share in the Chinese marker. “We cannot compete with French wines on production capacity, but we can target a more concise target audience that can have a multiplier effect.”

Pointing out that the almost 60% of wines in China were sold on premises such as restaurants and bars, James said that it made most sense for his association to target that end of the market to grow awareness about its wines.

James said that the next immediate stage involves the association identifying some key influencers in China, perhaps up to the tune of 500, with whom they can begin rolling out their consumer focused activities. He, however, did not elaborate further on this strategy.

“The target is not to be number one on the retail shelf in China but to steadily grow the market share to come to a more realistic and achievable market share of the imported wine market,”​ said James.

In time, James said, the country’s winegrowers would also target markets they are watching with much intent, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and India, others in the greater Asia region.

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