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News - 06.09.11

Opportunities for Argentina in the Japanese Wine Market

Following an invitation by Wines of Argentina, Jennifer Luk – Wine Educator, Wine Event Organizer/Specialist and Freelance Wine Writer – spoke about the Wine Market in Hong Kong last Thursday.

Following an invitation by Wines of Argentina, Jennifer Luk – Wine Educator, Wine Event Organizer/Specialist and Freelance Wine Writer – spoke about the Wine Market in Hong Kong last Thursday. Among other topics, Ms. Luk presented on consumer outlooks; wine trends, preferences and culture in Hong Kong; the wine trade and its political, economic and socio cultural aspects; distribution channels; wine marketing and communication; as well as on some differences between the Hong Kong and Chinese markets.

Luk explained that several years ago, people in Hong Kong used to drink wine only on special occasions because wine was considered to be a luxury product. As time went by, the market opened up to new players who were interested in getting to know more about wines. At present, there is intense competition among suppliers due to the fact that wine consumers have become more sophisticated and are much more aware of wine quality.

“Today, in Hong Kong, you can buy wines from France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, among other countries. Over the years, the demand has been gradually progressing from entry-level to premium and ultra-premium wines. Basically, we’re encouraging consumers to experience wines and participate in educational activities, tastings and food and wine pairings throughout the year,” said the specialist. She added that “people are interested in experiencing and getting to know more about the most popular wine-producing countries.”

 

Luk explained that core consumers drink wine at social events, for pleasure, and also with other wine lovers and at business dinners. She also presented a detailed account on the different players involved in wine-related activities: professional and business associations, distributors, wholesalers, wine schools and event planners who organize activities such as corporate celebrations, seminars, wine courses and wine fairs. She herself has organized a pioneering blind tasting in complete darkness for a better sensory experience.  

Hong Kong has become the “most mature wine market in Asia,” according to a study on international markets conducted by VINEXPO. This study claims that the growth of the Hong Kong market was driven by the elimination of wine import duties in 2008, tourism development and increasing wine consumption in the domestic market. In addition, Hong Kong has become the Asian wine hub, especially because it is the gateway to wines that are re-exported to mainland China.

“Thanks to technology, globalized information and communications, buying wines has become easier in the Hong Kong market. Today, anybody can import wines,” she stated.

Finally, she added that the most popular varieties in the market are Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, (mostly imported from France), and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (the latter coming from New Zealand). She also said that Malbec is becoming more and more popular. “Women currently prefer wines that are easy to drink, and men choose more complex wines. Blends could also be a good option, though it is easier to identify varietal wines.”

 

 

 

Regarding Argentina in particular, Luk said that since they do not have any Argentine wines in the market right now, there is good potential for Argentina in their market: “There are wines from Chile, and people are interested in new wines from South America, so I can see a great potential for Argentina in terms of quality and competitiveness, which is what consumers are looking for. What Hong Kong and China are looking for is diversity: diversity in wine regions, in winemaking methods and wine styles. It is necessary to work on product differentiation with the importers and distributors.”

One interesting piece of data mentioned by Ms. Luk was that to Hong Kong consumers, quality wines are those that can be stored for several years. Wines labeled as premium in our market – harvested 3 or 4 years back – are not top quality wines to them. “Those who wish to drink expensive wines believe that premium and ultra-premium wines are those that need to be stored for several years. Wines in the 15-20 dollar prize range are bought for daily consumption. Ultra-premium wines are thought to be those priced over 100 dollars, and crazy as it may sound, there are people who are willing to buy them.”