Research and workshops help give Australian wine a competitive edge in China

New marketing research is giving Australian wineries a unique look at the consumption and purchasing behaviours of Chinese wine consumers, and helping deliver a competitive edge in this burgeoning wine export market.

The three-year research project is being conducted by the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg Bass Institute for Marketing Science and is funded by the GWRDC. Titled ‘The China Wine Barometer: A look into the future’, the project has a special focus on the distribution channels for wine in China.

Project leader and senior research associate at the institute, Dr Armando Corsi, said the most recent results are sourced from the second wave of data collection, this time looking specifically at the retail and online channel.

The second wave of results from this project, as well as other research projects looking at China, is being presented in a series of workshops hosted by the GWRDC. Details are available on the GWRDC website.

‘Our first wave of results, released last year, analysed the on-premise sector. Over the life of the project, we will be collecting data from each of these three distribution channels – on premise, retail and online – in 2013, 2014 and 2015’, Dr Corsi said.

‘The information collected is of strategic importance, as it will help the Australian wine industry better engage Chinese consumers and improve the position of Australian wines in this key export market’.

The results are sourced from two surveys, one undertaken by market analysts Wine Intelligence and the other by the Institute, which track the preferences, purchases and usage occasions of Chinese wine consumers in a range of first- and second-tier cities in China twice a year.

The latest wave of research results revealed weekly consumption of wine among those surveyed was more prevalent in relaxed and informal occasions with frequency dropping for hosting guests and celebrations.

It also revealed that the quintessential bottle of wine in the mind of a Chinese consumer remains a French cabernet sauvignon from Bordeaux priced below $45 AUD in retail.

Consumers’ key purchase drivers for wine were quality indicators and grape variety with vintage, country of origin and recommendations also playing an important role in the decision process.

The latest results also provide a breakdown of the retails sales channels, with hypermarkets, speciality wine stores and online wine retailers being the top three.

Dr Corsi said Chinese giant Alibaba’s Tmall.com, Taobao.com and US venture capital-backed Yesmywine.com lead the online sector with higher awareness and conversion.

‘We’re looking forward to the third wave of collection results as we hope to start being able to identify shifting trends and changes in the sales channels or shopping behaviours’, he said.

‘As we progress we better grasp the relationship Chinese consumers have with wine – and expect this to lead to some competitive advantages for Australian wine industry’.

This year, Prof Larry Lockshin and Drs Armando Corsi and Justin Cohen, from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, will provide the latest research findings and detail how this information can benefit wine businesses.

New research is helping Australian wineries to better grasp the relationship Chinese consumers have with wine. Photograph source: Wine Australia
New research is helping Australian wineries to better grasp the relationship Chinese consumers have with wine. Photograph source: Wine Australia