Experts and merchants expect that sales of wine in China in 2020 will drop up to 40% as a consequence of the covid-19 lockdowns and the market will lose at least the 30% of its value. However they also presume that it will be only a temporary situation and the recovery should happen in a relative short time. This is the outcome of some interviews published by Wine Intelligence (https://www.wineintelligence.com/covid-19-impact/), as an anticipation of their “China Covid-19 Impact Report” to be released at the end of May, which will detail how consumers’ social, shopping, drinking and wine habits have been impacted.
The lockdown has hit one of the most relevant generators of wine sales: social gatherings. “As wine for Chinese consumers is often associated with food and Chinese food culture is mainly based on gathering, wine sales are often closely related to gathering and dining with others” said for example Mr Zhang, a wine distributor / Retailer from Xi’an.
In regards to the future Professor Ma from the College of Horticulture of China Agricultural University in Beijing answering to Wine Intelligence questions has been very realistic: “… it’s difficult to say what will happen with China’s GDP growth this year as well. With incomes being cut and the economic outlook looking grim, many trade members wonder if many consumers will resume their previous wine consumption pattern”. Actually, for the first time since 1990 the Chinese government has not indicate a GDP target, as announced by Premier Li Keqiang in last country’s annual Parliament meeting (May 22). Professor Ma thinks that there have definitely been already significant changes in consumption patterns but he is convinced that they are just temporary: “Chinese people love these social occasions, meaning eventually, as the situation gets better, consumers will start dining out again with friends and family. So yes, there’s been some changes, but I wouldn’t say the drop is permanent”.
Both Mr. Zhang and Professor Ma believe that the lockdown has brought already some positive developments. “For example, people who normally don’t do online shopping have turned to shopping online” (Mr. Zhang). “Some trade fairs (including the famous Canton Fair of June, ndr), tastings and wine classes are now taking place online. This may convert into more online sales than before… Another positive development is that we see wine promotions on more online platforms. Besides the traditional WeChat channel, I now see promotions on popular video platforms such as TikTok and Kwaishou. We may see wine promotions on less conventional platforms bringing in new wine consumers” (Professor Ma)