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Nimbility: China & Asia’s new wine challenges & opportunities

Nimbility: China & Asia’s new wine challenges & opportunities

The once booming Chinese and Asian wine markets are still in a sustained period of upheaval and turbulence as the region continues to struggle post-Covid to re-gain economic and consumer confidence. All of which is bad news for wine producers that had built up a significant presence in these once fast growing market places. To help mark the scene for this week’s analysis of the Chinese wine market at Wine Future in Portugal, Ian Ford and Nichole Mao, partners in Nimbility, the specialist Asian business marketing and support agency, give their latest comprehensive update on the current state and future prospects of China and Asia’s wine markets.

Richard Siddle
7th January 2024by Richard Siddle
posted in Opinion,

Economic headwinds dampen wine demand in China, but the outlook for Australian producers brightens with potential tariff lifts are the key headlines from Nimbility’s latest analysis of the Chinese and Asian wine markets.

Click below to watch Nimbility’s Ian Ford and Nichole Mao give their personal insights into the Chinese and Asian wine markets

The Chinese wine market, which saw initial signs of a hopeful resurgence post-Covid restrictions being lifted in early 2023, has encountered significant economic turbulence over the course of the year so far. Despite lifted travel and quarantine restrictions, consumer confidence has waned, leading to a noticeable decrease in spending on imported wines.

“Restaurants are open, and people are traveling, but the level of spend has come down quite a bit,” says Nimbility co-founder, Ian Ford, highlighting a nearly 50% drop in shipments since the highs of 2018-2019.

However, the Nimbility team remains optimistic, attributing the downturn to economic cycles rather than a permanent shift away from imported wine. This sentiment is buoyed by the buzz around the potential lifting of punitive tariffs on Australian wine in 2024. The anticipated review follows the suspension of the WTO case raised by Australia, signaling a warming of trade relations that could see Australian wines flowing back into China by mid-next year.

“This is very good news,” says Ford , emphasising the opportunity for Australian producers to re-enter the market with refreshed strategies.

Future prospects

Looking beyond China, Ford highlights South Korea and Japan as markets with significant potential, noting robust growth and record sales for Nimbility brands despite economic challenges. The Indian and Indonesian markets are also identified as ones to watch, given their vast populations and growing middle classes.

As for 2024, Nimbility advises a cautiously optimistic approach for China, stressing the importance of supporting local partners and maintaining a strong market presence. “Stick to your guns,” Ford advises producers, suggesting that while a major turnaround may not be imminent, the foundations for future growth are present.

The report concludes with a reminder of the untapped potential in China, where per capita consumption of imported wine remains below two liters. With Nimbility’s team on the ground, Ford reassured producers of their commitment to navigating the complexities of the market and uncovering opportunities.

As the wine industry looks to 2024, the message is clear: challenges persist, but so do opportunities for those ready to adapt and persevere in the world’s most significant beverage alcohol market.

  • Ian Ford will be giving more insights on the China wine market at Wine Future in Coimbra, Portugal 7-9th November. He will be taking part in a panel debate “Evolve or Die – Embracing Advanced Technologies to Thrive” that takes place at 3pm on November 8 along with other panellists, Maureen Downey, Justin Noland, Carlos de Jesus and Alessandro Boccio.

Wine Future 2023 – Coimbra November 7-9

Wine Future 2023 promises to be the leading event in the world to tackle the biggest challenges facing the global wine industry and what steps its stakeholders need to be taking and focusing on to succeed in the future.

It is the fourth Wine Future event to take place following other editions first in Rioja in 2009, Hong Kong in 2011, Wine Future Virtual 2021 and Green Wine Future in 2022. Founder Pancho Campo claims the ambition and overall goal for Wine Future has not changed since 2009 when, in the middle of an economic crisis, it looked to assess its impact and offer solutions and inspiration to everyone involved in the global wine industry.

Close to 25 years later and the world is again facing huge financial difficulties, rampant inflation, a global climate emergency and a declining wine market in most major wine consuming countries. It is against that backdrop that Wine Future hopes to make a difference.

Key themes to be addressed at this November’s conference include:

  • Engaging new consumers – particularly Generation Z and Millennials.
  • The impact of global economic uncertainty, especially inflation.
  • The opportunities of greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the wine industry.
  • How we can reach new audiences and better engage with existing wine drinkers through celebrity endorsements, influencers, and working with major international music and sporting events.
  • The use of digital marketing and social media to gain a new consumers.
  • Using new technologies to improve sales.
  • What can we learn from the competition from alternative beverages?
  • The human impact of sustainability.

Final Conference Agenda:

  • “Educating the new generations on consuming alcohol with moderation and responsibly” – By Max Trejo and moderated by Siobhan Turner MW.
  • “TikTok, Discord, and Paid Influencers – Reaching New Customers” – with Mariano Braga, Emma Bertrand, Georgia Panagopoulou, Simone Roveda, Luke Flunder and moderated by Cristina Mercuri.
  • “Growing Sales in Uncertain Times – New Strategies and Trends” – with Ulf Sjodin MW, Rafael del Rey, Don St. Pierre, João Gomes Da Silva, and Moderated by Dr. Liz Thach MW.
  • “From rockstar to businessman” with Bruce Dickinson, and moderated by Joe Roberts & Mike Wangbikler
  • “Wine Tourism Evolution – From Cellar Door to Virtual Tours” – with Adrian Bridge, Catherine Leparmentier, Marisah Nieuwoudt, and Moderated by Dr. Michael Cheng
  • “Icon & Premium wines of Portugal” – By Dirceu Vianna Jr. MW and moderated by Frederico Falcao – with the participation of: Dirk Niepoort, Anselmo Mendes, Celso Pereira, Domingos Soares Franco, Joana Silva Lopes, Manuel Lobo Vasconcelos, Paulo Nunes and Diogo Moreira.

  • “Getting to Your Core Story – How to Better Communicate About Your Brand” – with Alder Yarrow, Sonal Holland MW, Megan Greco, Natalie Wang, Ferrán Centelles, and moderated by: Mike Wangbickler.
  • “The Competition is Winning – Learning from and Embracing Ideas from alternative drinks” – with Cristina Miranda, Lulie Halstead, Iram Eren, a Coffe Producer TBC, and moderated by Robert Joseph
  • “How and why wine could be the healthiest alcoholic beverage” – By Dr. Laura Catena, and moderated by: Cyril Penn
  • “The Magnificent 12”Honoring the Ukrainian wine Industry – By Mark Squires and presented by: Maureen Downey.
  • “Evolve or Die – Embracing Advanced Technologies to Thrive” – with Maureen Downey, Justin Noland, Ian Ford, Antonio Amorim, and moderated by: David Allen MW.
  • “More Inclusive, Less Exclusive – Adopting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as an Opportunity” – with Mags Janjo, Queena Wong, Ntsiki Biyela, Bento Amaral, and moderated by: Stephen Wong MW.
  • “Historic & Legendary Madeira and Porto” – By Richard Mayson accompanied by some of the producers.
  • “The current status of the wine industry” – By Rob Mc Millan and moderated by Paul Mabray.
  • “The wine industry, world economy and work in the age of artificial intelligence” By Professor Christopher Pissarides and moderated by: Pancho Campo
  • Click here to find out more and to sign up to Wine Future.