The China Market

SW&S: One of China’s #1 import, brand building, distribution companies for European wines and Scotch Whisky in the CHINA MARKET.

With a long and diverse experience in the China market, SW&S is one of the most complete and trusted European wines and spirits importing agencies in the CHINA MARKET.

Ten years ago the demand for imported wine in China began to surge, initiated and encouraged by huge economic growth. The country’s new generation of millionaires went searching for areas to invest their money. Wines and spirits was a popular industry. Meanwhile, businessmen chose fine wines as the ultimate gifts which conveyed prestige, status, and respect. The wine market boomed.

In recent times, the rapid growth in the market has been tempered by several factors.

• Government & corporate austerity policies

• Slowdown of growth in the Chinese economy

• More stringent anti-drink driving laws

The market for fine wines did indeed falter. However, the vast majority of Chinese do not yet drink wine, and most of those that do drink only table wine.

So at the lower end of the scale we continue to see robust growth in demand, and that is the part of the market where SuGeJiu focuses.

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It is clear to us that there is still huge demand and opportunity within China.

The Yuan is now stronger against the Euro than it has ever been in recent years, meaning that Chinese clients have more money to buy from European importers.

“Looking ahead, there’s widening out of the wine market in China … The market is still huge and full of potential”          – CNBC April 2013

The China market is expected to be the largest consumer of red wine by 2017 – South China Morning Post

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In China, alcohol drinking is very much embedded in ritual: sometimes for celebration and more often for day-to-day social networking. More often than not, at Chinese gatherings, people will not touch their wine glass at dinner without the intention to clink glasses with their companions. Sharing a toast is an alternative to (some might even say a requirement rather than) shaking hands during post-dinner mingling at a banquet.

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In the past, Chinese used their local grain spirit baijiu (literally “white spirit”) to carry out these toasts. However, since most Chinese seem to admit privately that they don’t actually enjoy the taste of baijiu, and red wine is known for its health-boosting qualities as well as having the aura of European civilization, French red wine has taken over as the dinner party toasting drink of choice.

Some older men require something stronger to hasten the inebriation (and so the competitive edge of their drinking), and thus French brandy also has a place at the table. Encouragingly, we have also noticed instances where Scotch whisky appears to be taking over that role, especially among the younger crowd.

Scotch Whisky in the Chinese Market

Scotch whisky is already enormously popular in China, with Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal visible in every bar, KTV and nightclub. However, if you compare the quantity of “Scotch whisky” consumed in China with what the manufacturers produce, it would appear that up to 80% of this product is not genuine Scotch Whisky but local counterfeit.

“Brown-Forman, the company that makes Jack Daniel’s, estimates that around 30% of all alcohol in China is fake.” The guardian, 2015

In the big cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, independent importers offer alternative brands to nightclubs and bars where most of this whisky is consumed, but there are not enough representatives of Scottish whisky to get around all the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. SuGeJiu offers local distributors the opportunity to buy directly from Scotland.

Many Chinese drinkers prefer to buy the brand they know, even risking the purchase of a fake. However, a growing number choose a more reliable alternative such as SuGeJiu’s Black Shield, which also has a lower price.

We find that Nightclub owners are keen to promote our Black Shield brand because of its lower purchase price: this offers the owners a chance to make a greater profit per bottle of whisky sold.

Most Chinese people do not know the difference between Blended Whisky and Single Malt Whisky. However, as a greater number of whiskies become available in China, a growing number of drinkers are beginning to demand the superior Single Malt product.