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Chinese consumer tastes mature

Published:  17 April, 2012

A new Wine Intelligence study has found the Chinese wine market will feature more white wines and sweeter styles of reds in the future.

The Emerging Opportunities report is the result of three months of research among leading players in the Chinese wine trade to understand the opportunities and potential pitfalls for international wine brand owners of this "large, complex and rapidly developing market," says Wine Intelligence.

The Chinese wine trade is gearing up for a diversification in consumer tastes beyond the traditional Bordeaux wines that have dominated the imported wine market for the past three years, according to the report.

There is also a growing consensus that the key growth area in terms of volume over the next few years will be the so-called 'Tier two cities' - growing conurbations outside the Beijing-Shanghai-Guangzhou axis - where the wine drinking habit is being adopted at a rapid rate.

In terms of style and taste trends, Chinese consumers will start favouring soft, fruity styles of red wine. The market will also see growth, from its current low base, of white wine sales, especially in the south of the country where whites match better with the lighter, seafood-oriented cuisine.

Jenny Li, research manager at Wine Intelligence and the report's lead author, said: "It's probably fair to say that we are reaching the end of the first stage of China's wine market evolution. As we progress towards a more mature marketplace we will see consumer demand shift from the professional gifting occasion towards purchasing for home consumption.

"Overall this is a positive move for the market, and will give Chinese consumers more reasons and occasions to shop the category. However it will also create complexity in the market, and will challenge the resources of retailers, distributors, and brand owners alike."