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“Digital Drinking” In China: A New Normal? by 12/06/2020  

Covid-19 and the related lock down has had an impact on multiple dimensions of alcohol consumption in China generating important changes, many of which seems arrived to stay. These have been the conclusions of a study conducted by Nielsen, the global company of measurement and data analytics, in twenty Chinese cities from last March to April.


Despite the overall level of alcohol consumption declined during the epidemic, the Nielsen study found that the epidemic had different effects on different groups of consumers. High frequency consumers, for example, showed high loyalty to alcohol consumption during Covid-19 crisis.

This core consumer group mainly lives in either first-tier (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen) or second-tier cities (including Tianjin, Chongqing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Xiamen). It is formed by high-income men aged 31-40 who mainly drink liquor and beer but are also either occasional or regular wine drinkers. During the lockdown, home has become a main back drop for classic wine consumption of this group, since gift giving, business banquets and restaurant gathering have been seriously curtailed. Wine drinking has given some “colour” to the home quarantine and according to the study the sample surveyed drunk it with meals (60%), as a form of entertainment (49%) and with midnight snack (38%).

The high frequency alcohol consumers group, which has maintained its daily drinking habits even during the epidemic, has actively explored new ways of drinking, starting with the video / digital drinking, in Chinese云饮酒(literally cloud drinking) or better said Virtual social drinking. Fifty-nine percent of the participants in the Nielsen study said they had tried video-digital drinking during the epidemic and more than half of them said they would continue to do so in the future. Although Chinese love social gatherings many in the core consumer group mentioned above work in First and Second Tiers cities but come from other parts of China, for them digital drinking may well be a way of being connected with friends and families back in the places they come from.