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Tips on How to Sell Australian Online Wine in China by LUDWIK DONIMIRSKI19/12/2017  

With the economic boom, China has become one of the biggest spenders on imported goods and services.  Previously, Beer and rice alcohol (Baijiu) had been the preferred alcoholic beverages consumed by the Chinese. However, this is changing, especially among the affluent middle class who are becoming more health conscious and opting to drink wine instead.

Most alcoholic beverages are popular during festive seasons, being considered a luxury gift. Traditionally, the Chinese have also associated the colour red (and as such, red wine) with luck, wealth and power. The recent food scandals involving local brands is also another reason to seek imported brands when you buy wine in China as it is a synonym for “quality” in the consumer mind.

This can be viewed as an increased opportunity for Australian winemakers to expand their reach into the Chinese market.

How to reach the customer?
The Chinese, especially the younger generation, are very tech savvy. They often look for information online about how to buy wine in China. In addition, very recently the Chinese government authorities have permitted the drink to be traded through overseas e-commerce transactions.
Experts also predict that online retail sales will grow by 50% each year over the next few years. This opens up a world of opportunities, especially for Australian winemakers who have an online presence. 
Another method to conquer this overseas market would be to take advantage of the international conventions and exhibitions held in different cities (such as Shanghai and Beijing) every year. These also provide a platform for Australian wineries to promote their products and educate the Chinese consumer.

Before embarking on the journey, it is also important to find reliable partners who can provide support services such as storing stocks and delivering goods to customers. The good news is that that there are several dedicated providers that can offer one-stop services for any Australian company looking to sell their wine in China.   

Here are some tips that Australian winemakers can use to promote business and increase brand awareness in China.

1.  The Website

Having a website in either Mandarin or Cantonese is the first step to conquering the Chinese market. Make sure the information available on the website is comprehensive, as most often the Chinese tend to look for details of products before they buy them. In light of the food scandals that have taken place in recent times, the Chinese have also developed a greater trust in foreign brands.

In addition to the content, it is also useful to have high quality images and videos. This will help attract more Chinese customers and appeal better to the Chinese reader.  Consider this is similar to opening a store in one of the tier one cities such as Beijing or Shanghai. The website should also include delivery details, and genrally make it as easy as possible to buy wine in China with a Shanghai wine delivery.

2.  Understand the Search Engine

China has its own search engines. Hence, it is important to research and understand the algorithm and its underlying rules. This can help increase the online presence of the website. It can also help to implement search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques more effectively and attract organic (natural) traffic into the website.

For example, certain Chinese search engines require companies to have the website hosted locally and in Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese). These conditions will cause the website to rank more highly.

Using appropriate keywords, posting articles and having a presence in the search engine’s affiliated websites are some other SEO strategies that can be implemented. With organic web traffic, businesses do not have to pay the search engine for advertising, however there can be fierce competition among the industry, with numerous brands competing for the same places in the rankings systems.

3.  Search Engine Marketing

Advertising on a search engine is yet another way to get noticed on the World Wide Web. Programs such Pay Per Click can help to make a website more visible. As the name suggests, since the listing appears along with the organic search results, the company is required to pay the search engine when the advertised link is clicked.

Search engine marketing is ideal as a short-term strategy. It can help to establish a presence for the brand while the SEO work is being done as well.

4.  Social Media and Instant Messaging

Making use of social media sites and messaging apps are yet another tactic to help get across the message to potential customers and to promote the brand.

Posting news about the company, reviews, tips on wine culture, and other useful information can benefit the information-hungry Chinese, who are often searching for information about a product or a service before they make a purchase. 

Australian winemakers looking to expand their market share in China should consider going online. This helps them to reach new markets in a cost-effective manner. In order to create brand awareness online, the business must consider:

Building a website, with quality content in the local language that showcases the products;

Researching and analysing the various search engines specific to the region in order to implement strategies such as search engine marketing and search engine optimisation; and

Invest in running marketing campaigns on social media and instant messaging platforms.