China’s rapidly developing alcohol and wine market continues to provide exciting opportunities for beers, wines and spirits professionals who are looking for sustainable ways to export their brand to the middle kingdom.
With the Chinese wine market expected to reach a revenue of US$25.929 million in 2021 and a year-on-year CAGR growth of 5.34% between 2021 to 2025, the wine industry in China shows no signs of slowing down.
Businesses that want to establish a brand in this booming market will need to understand how to attract Chinese wine distributors and importers with effective B2B branding solutions, and the best digital marketing methods for engaging with Chinese consumers.
The Wine Industry in China
The emergence of the modern wine industry in China first started in the 1980s when foreign companies were able to sell their products in the middle kingdom for the first time.
The wine market in China really took off however in the 1990s, when consumer demand for foreign goods started to rise significantly. During this decade, the quality of products dropped due to the fact that the supply couldn’t sustain the dramatic rise in demand.
In 2001 China joined the WTO, allowing for more foreign companies to import their products to the country. This partnership along with the growth of the Chinese middle class, led to a huge increase in China’s import wine market.
Since then, China has preserved its interest in foreign wines, as more and more brands from all over the world have brought their specialty to the country.
The most well-known and popular wine brand in China is Bordeaux from France. For the Chinese consumer, buying and drinking a bottle of Bordeaux demonstrates a high degree of sophistication and internationalism. This is exactly the brand image that Bordeaux wanted to market in China, and it has been immensely effective.
In the last decade we have also witnessed a rise in Chilean, Italian and Spanish wines. Through collaborative efforts such as the 2019 Spanish and Chinese Association and the 2020 Shanghai’s Grapea & co, China continues to incentivize international wine exporters to help quench the country’s demand for foreign wine.
Building your Online Brand Reputation
The key idea is to have enough digital presence to attract the Chinese wine importers (B2B) and then to lay the foundation to cultivate a faithful community around the brand for smooth and successful B2C operations afterwards. We do it through two main actions: Increasing the Visibility & Online Reputation + Engaging and Collecting Data from your community.
A reputable online presence on Baidu is crucial as the site accounts for 75% of all search engine researches in China. Brands that want to interest major Chinese importers and distributors such as COFCO, Torres China, Summer Gates, and Globus Wine, will need to rank as high as possible on Baidu.
Implementing a successful Baidu SEO strategy was one of the tactics we used when helping Rioja Wine to localize their digital marketing campaign in China.
- Optimizing The Right Keywords
Baidu ranks sites in relation to what the user is searching for. Finding which keywords to use can increase the likelihood of your site ranking higher. You can use keyword research tools to help you find which specific keywords to use.
- Mobile Friendly
99.1% of Chinese netizens are accessing the Internet through their mobile devices. This means that if you want Baidu to consider your site as useful to most Chinese consumers, you will need your pages to be functional via mobile.
Example of mobile-friendly website localization for our Client: Rioja Wines
- Website Localization
To improve your Baidu SEO, you will need to use a Chinese (or China friendly) server. This is because China’s great firewall will cause sites that are hosted on a foreign server to load slowly, meaning that Baidu’s “spider” technology won’t be able to rank your site properly. This is if the website isn’t blocked completely.
Online Press Releases
Online press releases are considered a trustful source by most Chinese importers because the content is strictly regulated by the authorities.
Positive reviews, advice, and instructions about your brand on these publication sites will generate confidence from importers and distributers in your brand and produce high-quality B2B leads.
Managing Online Reputation
Brands should also look to develop their non-official reputation through sites such as Zhihu (知乎). Similar to Quora, articles posted on Zhihu have an authentic and natural element to them. It’s also crucial to respond to feedback and reply to questions on these forums to bolster the relationship between brand and consumer.
The Zhihu article below offers readers more information about Bordeaux wines. The purpose of these articles is to increase brand awareness through user engagement, conversation and sharing and to generate better informed and more quality B2B leads.
Translation: “Most of the French Bordeaux wines that Chinese people drink are regional wines.
Why do I say that? Read this article and you will find out.” (Source: Zhihu)
Marketing on social media in China, means marketing on WeChat. WeChat is the number one social media platform in China with over 750 million users. The platform is a great place for connecting with consumers and distributors.
In 2017, WeChat released a new feature called “Mini-Programs” (小程序) which are essentially an additional app within WeChat and are readily accessible to WeChat users. Whilst these extensional apps provide various B2C possibilities through the revolution of e-store mini-programs, this is not their only function.
Example of our Client’s WeChat Mini-Program e-Store: Spain Top Wine
Mini-Programs also offer unlimited B2B opportunities for interacting with importers. They can be a hub for importers/distributors, an access point for importers to find information about the brand, an interface for specific communities to connect, an online loyalty card, or a place to run contests and promotions.
WeChat CRM – Managing your WeChat OA Subscribers
WeChat Official Accounts (OAs) are marketing platforms in WeChat which allow subscribers of the OA to receive brand-orientated content, be redirected to H5 pages, and communicate or ask questions about the brand with direct and group messaging.
They are very popular in China with 26.7% of users following more than 20 WeChat OAs. With users constantly receiving multiple articles and branded content every day, the competition for user attention has become extremely fierce.
However, a WeChat Social CRM tool provides brands with an integrated managing system, that allows you to send engaging content to users. Importers and distributors can access your OA by searching for it on WeChat or through an O2O approach by scanning a QR code at an e-trade fair. By using a WeChat CRM, you can create unlimited QR codes.
Example of our Client’s WeChat Social CRM system: Rioja Wines
After submitting their details, such as age, interests, occupation, industry etc. the WeChat CRM will tag importers into specific groups and send them ultra-targeted content. For example, a wine importer who wants to import your wine can be sent a wine catalogue or respectively a beer importer can receive beer industry related content. There are an abundance of B2B possibilities with WeChat CRM, see this article for more information on WeChat CRMs.
If you are a Wine and Spirits professional, and you need more info about how to enter the Chinese Market or how to take your already established brand to the next level, send us your inquiry, we’ll be happy to look into it and schedule a free consultation with one of our China Marketing Consultants.