Media release – GWRDC connects research to business with first #INseries workshops

The Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) has concluded the first sequence of INseries workshops across the country, presenting the latest insights on Chinese consumer wine preferences and demonstrating what this means for Australian wine businesses.

‘China Insights’ was the first topic addressed as part of GWRDC’s new INseries program that connects research to business. Breakfast workshops took place across five of the top Australian wine regions exporting to China – McLaren Vale, the Barossa Valley, the Hunter Valley, the Yarra Valley and Margaret River.

‘This is the first set of data from an exciting three-year project funded by GWRDC that will track attitudes and behaviours of consumers towards Australian wines in China. The first survey of 1000 consumers confirmed much of what we might expect about China as a new and engaged market but there were also some surprising insights’, said GWRDC Executive Director Dr Stuart Thomson.

‘It is not surprising that Chinese consumers volunteer Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux when asked to recall a variety they have last consumed or a region they recognise, given France’s position as a traditional wine- producing nation and the associations with luxury and prestige. What is surprising is the increase in consumption in the home, which will have implications for the off-premise market’, said Professor Larry Lockshin from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, who presented at the workshops.

‘An important thing to consider is that Chinese consumers don’t describe wine in the same terms as Western consumers. While we might describe wines as having blackberry or eucalypt characters, they might describe a red wine as presenting characters of yangmei – a sweet fruit native to Asia – or fresh wolfberry’, said Professor Lockshin.

Ms Angie Bradbury, Managing Director and marketing strategist at Dig&Fish, who presented the second session at the workshops, says it is important to consider these flavour descriptors when talking to Chinese consumers to ensure your message is relevant, however she says wine companies should resist calls to change their brand or label to appeal specifically to the Chinese market.

‘Authenticity is one of the most important factors for Chinese consumers in their selection of wine. They want to know a brand is credible, has a sense of place and importantly, they want to meet the winemakers. Rather than changing anything on the label, wineries can benefit from developing specific materials for the market, such as translating tasting notes into meaningful fruit and flavour descriptors’, said Ms Bradbury.

During her session, Ms Bradbury stressed the importance of having a specific brand and export plan for the Chinese market.

‘China has a unique culture and you cannot extrapolate Western thinking to that market. The methods you have used to conduct business and sell your wine in other markets are not going to apply in China. Ultimately companies need to visit China. Focus on one city or region initially and learn the nuances of building relationships and understand how the market operates’, said Ms Bradbury.

Finally it was suggested that wine companies should promote their Australian credentials as specific wine regions in Australia are not yet recognised by the Chinese market.

‘Unless you are the Barossa, which has the highest regional recognition of Australian wine regions for Chinese consumers, you should be promoting an association with Australia, followed by your brand and then your region,’ said Ms Bradbury.

Other workshop topics to be offered over the next 12 months as part of the GWRDC’s free INseries program will span viticulture, winemaking and wine marketing.

‘It is our goal to engage with all wine regions. The INseries will cover a range of topics and we plan to hold events in as many regions as possible where these topics are most relevant,’ said GWRDC’s Dr Stuart Thomson.

The first workshop in McLaren Vale was filmed and will be made available in the coming weeks to those who could not attend. Key outcomes of the workshops and a final report of research findings will also be shared with GWRDC Innovators’ Network members.

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For further information contact:
Jen Russell

Communications Adviser

Ph: 08 8273 0500

Email:  jen@gwrdc.com.au

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