Alibaba Wine & Spirits Festival planned

An inaugural 9.9 Alibaba Global Wine & Spirits Festival will be held next week through

Alibaba Group will bring 100,000 international wines, cognacs, whiskeys and other beverages from 50 countries to Chinese consumers through

Brands such as Gallo Family Vineyards and Robert Mondavi Winery of the US, France’s Lafite and Japan’s Suntory Yamazaki will join winemakers from Australia, Italy, New Zealand and Spain in the first of what is expected to be annual shopping event on Tmall.

Alibaba says hundreds of brands will make their China debut during the festival.

Once a trend among China’s wealthy elite, wine has since caught on with the country’s estimated 152 million middle-class consumers. Growth is being driven by consumers in first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, as well as Chinese in their 20s, according to market researcher Wine Intelligence. The UK firm estimates that 48 million people in China bought imported wine last year, up 26 per cent from 38 million in 2014.

Greater choice

Wine Intelligence says eCommerce is bringing greater choice for wine buyers in a country where wine shops and other outlets are not common. Online distribution channels, as well as tariff-reducing trade deals with countries like Australia and Chile, have helped boost imported wine sales to 43.7 million nine-litre cases last year, a jump of 37 per cent over the previous year.

Consumers are also drinking wine more frequently, says Wine Intelligence, with 35 per cent partaking on a weekly basis last year versus 23 per cent in 2014.
Alibaba says Tmall saw the number of active buyers in the wines and spirits category climb five times to 10 million consumers between 2013 and 2015.

Italian winemaker Gruppo Mezzacorona launched a flagship store on Tmall in June, five years after establishing brick-and-mortar sales channels in China including restaurants, hotels and supermarkets. Its country manager Nick He says that selling online via Alibaba marketplaces allows the company to reach parts of China otherwise not possible.

Live video

“We believe Tmall will really help us to reach every corner of China,” he says, Also, consumers who would typically have a smaller selection of wines at physical stores have access to most of the company’s wine inventories when shopping online.

Gruppo Mezzacorona is planning to live-stream video from its wineries in Italy in the run-up to the sale, showing Chinese consumers how grapes are picked and the wine is made. There will also be tips on wine drinking as an interactive component allowing consumers to ask questions.

Tmall has already launched marketing campaigns to generate buzz around the festival, including live auctions of rare and limited labels and live-streamed broadcasts with experts such as Château Valandraud founder Jean-Luc Thunevin and American wine critic James Suckling.

Offline, about 5000 bars and pubs in China will support the festival with free tastings and distribution services.

You have 7 articles remaining. Unlock 15 free articles a month, it’s free.