Chinese drinkers won over to online buying

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 6:06am

More than a third of wine and imported spirits on the mainland is being bought online as Web retailers are increasingly finding favour with the country's technology-savvy consumers.

A Nielsen survey of 1,200 regular drinkers from across the mainland found more consumers are buying alcohol online, though supermarkets and liquor stores remain the most popular channels. Seventy-seven per cent of the respondents said they were willing to buy more online in the next two to three years.

"The high concentration of a younger demographic among internet users, along with the rapidly increasing number of e-commerce users in China, all point to online channels becoming more important for Chinese liquor consumers, especially in key cities," Nielsen China senior director Catherine Xu said.

Online sales now account for 17 per cent of Chinese spirit baijiu and 13 per cent of beer purchases. More than 90 per cent of imported-spirit consumers in the survey said they were willing to buy more online, compared with 77 per cent of baijiu and wine consumers and 57 per cent for beer buyers.

At the end of last year, the mainland had 242 million registered online shoppers, constituting 43 per cent of internet users, and Beijing-based Analysys International expects online alcohol sales to hit 13 billion yuan by next year.

The survey found beer was the drink of choice for most, at 71 per cent of survey respondents, followed by wine and baijiu, both at more than 55 per cent.

Xu said: "With more liquor consumers migrating online, liquor manufacturers will need to leverage their online platforms to lure consumers' attention towards their brands. It's equally vital to strike a chord from an educational perspective, as China is well known for its profound history and culture of alcohol drinking."

The survey found general retail websites were the preferred channel for online alcohol purchases. However, in the next two to three years, wine and baijiu consumers are likely to switch to official manufacturer websites, while buyers of imported spirits and beer are likely to switch to specialty online stores.

Respondents said the main benefits of buying alcohol online were discounts, home delivery and product range, but fake products and bottles broken in transit were potential risks.