China is not a country with a long tradition of drinking wines, but the Chinese consumers are some of the fastest learners in the world. A design with very traditional Chinese elements, such as deep reds with golden highlights, might have worked a decade ago, but today’s well-educated and growing middle-class has access to more disposable income, are open minded, love modern lifestyle, and normally refuse to buy labels with too much traditional Chinese elements. Instead, the average modern Chinese consumer tend to lean towards labels that are adapted from a combination of western tradition and Chinese ideals.
Australia Trade Tasting gets insight from Rachel Wang, Professional consultant German Wine Institute China Office and contributing author to WINE magazine, on consumer tendency in China.
After interviewing a few wine lovers, media, and ordinary consumers, here are some clues for you to look at that show what the average Chinese consumer is looking for.
Simple is Best
The Chinese identity responds well to simple symbols of respect, honor, tradition, and reputation, so it is always better to use a single letter or initial (pic 1) or a simple picture (pic 2) that embodies the theology of your brand. Because not everyone in China has a strong language skill to remember or pronounce foreign languages, most consumers will choose the ones with simple elements that are easy to remember. It’s easy for them to say to themselves and their friends, “Last night I tried the label with the K (or even Baron K) and it was very good,” but it’s hard for them to remember something like, the Baron zu Knyphausen Riesling from Rheingau. The communication and education programs between sales teams and consumers is much smoother if symbols are used because the consumer can easily associate the symbols with the wine’s origin and brand story.
You also want to keep local tradition if the wines are from the Old World because, for Chinese consumers especially, drinking wine is like experiencing the local culture. The more traditional, the more attractive it is for the Chinese consumer (Pic 3). Wine lovers in China will always tell you something like, “When I sip wine from Europe, I want to feel the history and the tradition. The label is a bridge connecting the present and the past. Also, it gives the wine a perceived value. If the wine label is modern in style, such as a painting, I will think the quality is not good.”
In order to really lure the Chinese towards your label, it’s about finding a sweet spot between representing a story and offering an easily recognizable label that they will remember and relay to other consumers. If you aren’t an old world winery that can rely on long-standing tradition and heritage, than you need to find fun and exciting ideas that Chinese can associate with (Pic 4). Using summer themes for white wines and roses seems to resonate well with consumers and elegant and strong branding is a good choice for most new red labels.
Never Short of Quality
In China, quality is still the foundation of any consumer favorite. Even if consumers are attracted by your label and decide to try your wine, its your wine’s quality that will ultimately show them that their purchase represents good value. The success of any sales team is the pursuit of a growing continued buyer population. In China (besides the extremely rich population of wine collectors who can purchase on reputation for practically any price) the average consumer is a value driven consumer, so offer them a great product in a package they can understand with a story that captures their imagination.
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