The impact of COVID-19 on Chinese wine consumer behaviour

Friday, 29 May, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on Chinese wine consumer behaviour

The new Wine Intelligence China COVID-19 Impact Report has revealed that China’s 50 million drinkers of imported wine found more occasions to drink wine during the COVID-19 restrictions and bought more wine using online retailers. While wine purchases have gone up but spend per bottle has fallen in other global markets, Chinese drinkers have increased their buying frequency overall for informal non-food occasions, spending a bit more per bottle for this type of occasion.

The online retail channel also appears to have taken the majority of these new purchases, with over half of respondents saying they have bought wine via an online retailer more often during this period. The report polled a representative sample of 1000 monthly Chinese resident wine drinkers across 12 major cities and conurbations during March and April to understand how their wine drinking behaviour changed as a result of the coronavirus restrictions.

The findings suggest that wine has fared better than expected in China, given that in this market the drink has been traditionally associated with more formal in-person social occasions in bars and restaurants. Analysis by Wine Intelligence shows that 57% of respondents said they drank wine while catching up with friends online at least once a week during lockdown, with one in three saying this was happening two or more times a week.

When asked about their intentions once the virus lockdown ended, respondents appeared unwilling to go on vacations abroad and attend crowded events. While some respondents expressed caution about going out to bars and restaurants immediately after restrictions were eased, on balance more said they would be more likely to go out to eat (38%) than less likely (34%). In all other markets polled by Wine Intelligence, the balance of sentiment among consumers has been against visiting restaurants after lockdown.

The report includes insights pre-, during and predicted post-COVID-19 restrictions, including drinks repertoire, wine buying and consumption behaviours, brand health and lifestyle behaviour changes.

“The data suggests that the wine category has emerged from China’s coronavirus crisis largely unscathed, despite the closure of the on-trade, traditionally one of the most important channels to market for wine in China,” said Lulie Halstead, Wine Intelligence CEO.

“As to why this is, our analysis is showing that Chinese imported wine drinkers have found new at-home occasions to enjoy a glass of wine, and have grown more used to the idea of having wine in the home, especially as they are growing more confident about using online delivery services to get the wine they want,” Halstead said.

For more details about the report, visit here.

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