Labels key to success for selling wine in China

Wine producers looking to export to China for the first time need to get to grips with demands for high-quality packaging and culturally-sensitive labels, according to Wine Intelligence.

Jenny Li, Wine Intelligence’s senior research analyst in China, said producers faced higher demands on packaging than in more mature markets for imported wine around the world, at a seminar hosted by the company at the London International Wine Fair.

Li said Lafite had been a winner in the Chinese market partly because it was easy for Chinese consumers to pronounce, while Chateau Mouton-Rothschild had hit a bull’s eye by using Chinese characters on packaging.

Chateau Beycheville had proved a hit with consumer by including a boat on its label that symbolises a good voyage and a healthy future.

“You need to have a name which translates into Chinese and which is easy for Chinese people to pronounce,” said Li.

“It can cause embarrassment for a consumer if they are in a on-trade and want to order a bottle of wine but don’t know how to say the name.”

In an in-depth analysis of the Chinese wine market and its consumers by the Wine Intelligence Chinese market researchers, the seminar also heard about the importance of gift packaging in a market where up to 60% of sales were associated with two main celebrations: Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Potential exporters also need to get to grips with the country’s complex tax structure and importer demands on advertising, marketing and promotion budgets, which can sometimes see the retail price reach three to five times that of the ex-cellar price.

For those who get it right, the rewards could be huge. “The conditions are right to see this market become very important for imported wine over the next 20 years,” said Wine Intelligence chief operating officer Richard Halstead.