Plus many forums on the state-of-the-art of the global wine market, like the Wine Business Forum on October 5th with a focus on international markets such as Russia, Canada, UK and USA, Australia, China, Japan and Asia in general. Some interesting points of view were brought in during the forum's segment “Shaping the new Chinese market” by Gus Zhu, the first Chinese Master of Wine, J. C. Viens, a WSET wine educator and CEO at “Grande Passione” and by Florian Ceschi, global wine and grape broker and head of Ciatti Europe.
Which are the preferences as to wine and taste, in China? «The approach is different, first we look at the colour, being it white or red, and we consider the alcohol content – said Zhu, who was connected via video call – Some choose white wine because it matches better with Chinese cuisine. Only those who know more about wine consider also its sensory characteristics. But Chinese people are clever and quick to learn, they want to know more about wine as well as many other products». As to winemaking, China has its own production areas which are strongly supported by the Government because the soil there isn't apt for other cultivations, but as Zhu pointed out the Chinese climate in general isn't good for winegrowing.
So, given that the Chinese consumers' approach is of course influenced by their own culture and its peculiarity, a foreign wine company's strategy must be different. «People in China want to be inspired, not educated – said J. C. Viens – They want to know how they can improve their life quality. The best approach for a cantina is to show that drinking wine can make their life better. Businesses must focus on these elements while, at the same time, guarantee satisfaction: consumers pay and must have a feed back for the price». Zhu agreed on this view: «Those who have a higher lifestyle focus on quality, as they have now different medias from which they gather information, they search for other things as an inspiration». The educational system in China is changing too, as Zhu said, and now entering the best universities isn't enough: there's more to life to lift someone's status and the web contributed to this aspect. «Chinese people love to travel and want to find inspiration by travelling, but now that they're all closed up in their houses (because of lockdowns, Ed.), they skipped to online courses and that's interesting».
Key factors for winemakers' success in China
For a foreign wine business to be successful in China there are a few essential tips: be patient, be kind, chill out. And hang around – and drink – with local customers. «First, Chinese businesses want to establish a relationship based on trust, then when they have enough confidence, business can go on – said Florian Ceschi – One need to have patience, travel a lot, be there, appreciate local food and ask a lot of questions and express his own worries: it's important to talk about critical issues. Focus on developing a long term relationship is the key for commerce». And getting a good local commercial partner could also help. And J. C. Viens insisted that the marketing approach must be different than it was in the past: «We need to sell less wines and more dreams. What are the dreams of our destination market? When we learn to whom we want to sell, then we'll know what language to use, what they want and if our brand or wine it's compatible with that market, so to find the right placement. Many people go to China willing to sell wine to everyone, but... no! You must know who's the ideal customer».
Basically, the key factor for a wine business' success in China is long term committment: «Without that, you're not able to know the culture and it's necessary to know the destination market – said Gus Zhu – Before coming to China, reflect and think: if you come, you must be present, drink with customers, have fun, be together and build friendships. Then you'll be able to establish long term relationships and be successful. If the product doesn't belong to Chinese tradition, the consumer wants to know more about it, every detail. And socializing is a very important aspect, Chinese people love being together and that's fundamental to settle an engagement».
About Milano Wine Week 2021
Milan is maybe the most international city in Italy, and that was confirmed by Milano Wine Week's organization: 11 cities around the world (Montreal, Toronto, New York, Chicago, Miami, London, Moskow, Shanghai, Shenzen, Tokyo, Hong Kong) were connected with Milan by hosting more than 100 events during the wine week, all of them in crucial export markets like the USA, Canada, UK, Russia, China, Japan and Hong Kong. A great chance for all the winemaking attendees and the producers associations to showcase their wines to an international audience.
This edition also introduced the very original Wine Boat: wine tastings with experts while quietly and comfortably navigating on the Navigli canals. And the 10 Wine District were dedicated to ten high quality Italian areas of production and their Consortiums: Franciacorta, Consorzio dell’Asti e del Moscato d’Asti DOCG, Consorzio di Tutela del Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG, Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC, Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese, Brunello di Montalcino, Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella, Consorzio Vino Chianti, Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo, InLiguria.
All photos by Raffaella Turati