Allegrini 2018

During the lockdown, the Chinese consumed more and spent more on foreign wines

The Wine Intelligence survey revealed that consumption, just like the world over, moved into the home, opening up new perspectives
During lockdown in China, people consumed more foreign wines, moving to drinking at home

Periods of great crises have always been also great moments of change. Changes that can be often dramatic and painful, but they also open up new opportunities. The Covid-19 pandemic, then, could have unexpectedly opened the homes of the Chinese to foreign wines, since consumption during the lockdown phase in the country first hit by Covid-19 would have, in general, even increased slightly for still wines, and to a lesser extent sparkling wines, except for Champagne which, instead was on a decline. Furthermore, consumption moved from restaurants to the home. This phenomenon is similar to what has happened in other countries, though there are significant differences to mention. First of all, in China, drinking foreign wines at home was definitely a very minor part of consumption habits, while in other countries it is a bigger part. Secondly, the 50 million Chinese who consume foreign wines, not only have increased how often they purchase these wines, especially through the online channel (which in China is worth over 30% of the market, as well as the only channel growing), but they also spent more than before on average for a bottle. This is one of the facts that the most recent Wine Intelligence report has revealed. The report described the changes in wine consumption in China during the quarantine phase, surveying the opinion of 1.000 consumers that represented the populations of the 12 largest cities in the country.
Further, the report revealed that wine consumption has held up much better than expected, in a country where the wine culture is very young, and bottles of wine, especially the imported ones, are normally uncorked in formal occasions at the restaurant, and consumers have found new, informal occasions to toast. Therefore, 57% of respondents said they had toasted their friends online at least once a week during the lockdown phase, while instead one in three did it twice and more. Moreover, the percentage of those who say they are ready, though cautiously, to go back to restaurants (38%) is slightly higher than those who say they would rather still wait (34%), and is the opposite sentiment compared to many other markets the British agency has surveyed. Nevertheless, in the immediate future, 64% of wine consumers plan to indulge in higher quality wines, even spending somewhat more than usual. These are positive signals, at least in sentiment, from one of the largest wine markets in the world, where Italy wants to and must grow.

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