In order to take a share in the huge potential Chinese market, some Australian wineries have come up with a new model— WeChat, reported by Beverage Daily.
The innovative wine distribution channel delivers samples in miniature bottles for in-home tastings in China, targeted messages are sent to Chinese wine drinkers through social media platform WeChat, inviting them to sign-up for an in-home tasting of Aussie wines for A$5 (US$3.60).
Those who purchase the service will receive three 60ml bottles of wine from South Australia home delivered for a cellar door-style tasting.
When scanned, a QR code on each bottle will take the taster to the Trust in Taste WeChat store, which provides more information about the wine, including a video with the winemaker. Larger 750ml bottles can then be ordered on the website for about A$30 each, and feedback can be given on each sample.
Cracking the Chinese market
Co-founder Peter Evans told Beverage Daily that the idea came to him when an Australian winery approached the Asia-focused commerce business he runs with his brother, Mawson Global, to find out how they could crack the Chinese market. When they found that It’s hard to find good distributors in China, they looked for a different approach, that’s is WeChat.
Evans chose the mobile service as Trust in Taste’s key platform as a means to create a social venture that got people talking to other people, rather than relying on advertising and traditional marketing.
The fact that WeChat is taking over from credit cards in China as a payment gateway added to the appeal, as marketing, ordering, interaction and transactions can be done all in the same place.
Chinese New Year and new opportunities
Evans said the company’s research found that the target consumer in China is likely to be female, 25-35 years old, and degree educated. She lives in a big city, drinks two to three bottles of wine a month with friends in a quiet place and is prepared to pay A$20-$60 for a bottle.
This equates to almost 50m people in the direct target market and 100m when men are included. “It’s direct to consumer wine but we give people the opportunity to sample the wine before they buy it to take the risk out—we know that works because cellar doors work,” Evans explained. “We’re trying to provide a cellar door experience in every home in the world starting in China.
This is a newer generation coming through wanting to learn a bit more about wine and drink it with friends. “It’s also about turning up to a dinner party for Chinese New Year, presenting a bottle of wine and not being embarrassed about how it might taste.”
The first trial samples were distributed in April but then a recent cornerstone investment by a venture capital and private equity fund has allowed Trust in Taste to conduct further market research and ramp up the operation ahead of Chinese New Year, which begins on February 5.
So far about 1,500 tasting kits have been sent to consumers mainly in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou with about a 10% conversion rate into full bottle sales for certain labels.
Evans said in initial trials 40% of WeChat users who clicked through to the Trust in Taste WeChat store went on to order a sample tasting. He said the 2019 goal was to expand the business in China to 200,000 samples by the end of the year with a conversion rate of 20%.
Evans told Beverage Dally that they are concentrating on China because the numbers are really attractive but the concept and the marketing work anywhere in the world. All they need is a population area over five million, good messaging and good logistics—wherever you can deliver within a day.
Facing the fierce competition and the lucrative market, not only Australian wineries are seeking new channels to win the market share in China, but other players in food & beverage industry are also striving to do so.
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