How to engage with Chinese tourists about Australian wine

How can the Australian wine sector best engage with Chinese tourists to encourage them to buy Australian wine when they return home?

This is the question behind an AGWA-funded R&D project under way at the University of South Australia.

“We see this as complementary to rather than an alternative to marketing in-market but it could be a valuable and cost-effective adjunct – a pull approach to build on companies ongoing push strategies within China,” said Dr Richard Lee, from the University’s Ehrenberg Bass Institute.

“Tourists come from, and thus will return to, many different parts of China, but they are easy to reach in Australia because they tend to gather in obvious places.”

In the project’s recently completed first phase, Chinese tourists visiting a leading cellar door and at a popular fish market were questioned about their time in Australia then asked to taste and evaluate a glass of wine and a piece of freshly cooked prawn.

Consistently (and unsurprisingly), those with a more positive experience and perceptions of Australia as a travel destination tended to rate both the wine and the prawn more highly. Moreover, the wine was rated more highly at the winery than in the market, and the prawn more highly in the market.

“This confirmed the tourism ‘halo effect’ on product evaluation, particularly in a congruent environment where the product fits with the location,” Dr Lee said.

In the second phase, now under way, the wine is being evaluated at different locations that are congruent to wine, such as vineyards and restaurants. The aim is to drill down further and come up with some advice for wine companies, while also testing for seasonal variations.

“We were at the cellar door over summer the first time while now we are moving into the slower period for tourists,” Dr Lee said. “It may not be important, but we want to check.”

The third and final phase will test the extent of the tourism effects by comparing responses from Chinese tourists at the winery with those of people in China who have never been to Australia but choose to visit an Australian cellar door in China.

The researchers also will follow up by emailing the tourists they spoke with during phase two to see whether they have bought Australian wine since returning home.


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