WOC Summit Reports: Julio Alonso, WOC Asia

Asia is Chile’s fastest growing market, and at last week’s Annual Summit, Director of Wines of Chile Asia, Julio Alonso, presented the latest news from the market.

Reporting growth in all sectors, including an impressive 29% growth in premium wine sales, Julio said that while it was good news it was very important to continue investing in China and Asia because it was a rapidly growing market.

Chile is currently a leader in the market, however Julio commented that competition was coming fierce from California and New Zealand as well as Australia in particular, a wine producing region that is well known to the Chinese because it is also a popular holiday destination for them.

Wine consumption is still small per capita, at 1.2 litres per person per year. However consumption in China has grown, and the sheer size of the country makes it an important focus market for Chile. Julio also added that drinking wine was a growing tendency.

“In China there is a trend to follow certain western tendencies, not in everything - but wine is fortunately one of them,” said Julio. “The Chinese are very well connected digitally and an opportunity is reaching consumers online.”

Julio also presented how the millenials in China don’t want to drink with their parents, nor do they want to drink the same as their parents. French wine has always been the most esteemed wine for the older generation, but Julio said that Chile had an opportunity with the younger generation to appear more dynamic and captivate their interest by offering something different.

“We have a very good image in China, and it is very privileged,” said Julio. “We must continue investing in this image. We are going to be investing in more education for consumers.” The new Wines of Chile Academy has been one of the most important sources of education in China for new wine consumers. As well as consumer classes, the academy offers trade classes and educator classes. Julio highlighted that the course is an important opportunity for Chilean wineries to participate in by presenting their wines to new consumers as well as wine educators in China.

WOC Asia will also be launching the ‘Love Wine, Love Chile’ campaign in early 2017, which Julio explained will be focused on social media channels and digital wine outlets. “The social networks are very important, and we also have to focus on e-commerce.”

Julio also announced the Wines of Chile roadshow coming in 2017 and encouraged wineries to participate in this traveling wine event so they can reach other markets within Asia. Another interesting program he announced is ‘Billionaires to Chile’, a program where they will invite some of the biggest influencers in Chinese luxury culture, the billionaires, to visit Chile and get to know their wines.

Another cultural exchange planned for WOC Asia next year is a winemaker exchange program, where Chilean winemakers go to make wine in China, and Chinese winemakers come to Chile to make wine. As the wine culture and winemaking industry grows in China, Julio said this would be a unique opportunity for Chile to be part of that growth.

He finished his presentation reporting on specific events in the rest of Asia including Japan and South Korea. In particular in South Korea where they will be holding a Wine Bar War, a popular pop-up wine bar competition that started in the US and is now being held in Korea and the UK.

To read more about Julio’s report on the Asian market and the campaigns planned for the upcoming year, take a look at his presentation in the Member's Area.

By Amanda Barnes