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Fears of Fake Wines in China by 11/01/2013  

The report from Wine Intelligence, the foremost researcher into the whole gamut of wine sales around the world, paints a fascinating, if alarming, picture of the Chinese retail market for imported wines. It reads as follows:
Widespread fear of fakes in the off-trade is the biggest barrier to growth of imported wine in China

Chinese consumers are being discouraged from buying higher value imported wines in shops because of growing fears that what they buy will be a fake, according to new research.

Wine Intelligence’s survey of 1,000 drinkers of imported wine in China found that fear of buying a fake was the biggest barrier to purchasing wine in the off-trade, with 44% of respondents saying it discouraged them from buying.

This concern ranked well ahead of more conventional worries about what the wine would taste like (38%) and lack of good information on the back label (34%).

The sample for the survey was designed to be representative of the Chinese, urban, educated and affluent imported wine drinking community aged 18 – 49, which Wine Intelligence estimates to be around 19 million consumers in 2012. Allowing for the survey’s margin of error (+/- 3.1%), the findings suggest that serious concerns around fake wines are shared by at least 8 million potential purchasers.

The findings are reported in the new China Landscapes 2013 report, which is published by Wine Intelligence today. The report also notes that Chinese wine consumers are still very interested in learning more about the category, and in many cases are taking the time to educate themselves.

The report strikes a mostly positive note about the outlook for imported wine in China in 2013, highlighting the surging demand for wine from reputable online retailers, and the increased distribution of imported wine products in the huge new urban areas of China’s interior, where much of the growth in wine consumption will come over the next 5 years.

Rui Su, Research Manager at Wine Intelligence explains that “Most Chinese consumers who can afford to buy imported wine are intensely curious about the product and eager to understand it better”, highlighting that boosting consumer confidence in the wine category is the key to the next stage of China’s wine market development.

She added: “But as with anything new, they are worried about making a mistake and wasting money, which is at least as much of a concern to Chinese as it is to consumers in the West. The big challenge for this year is for retailers and producers to reassure Chinese consumers that what they are buying is genuine, as well as good quality.”