Can A Competition Finally Improve Wine In China?
David Jiang is the Managing Director of Wine 100, which is one of China’s leading wine competitions. Their competitions bring together a professional, diverse panel of wine experts (as well as trained wine lovers) to taste thousands of wines throughout China who then select the best wines in various categories for the everyday customer.
What started Jiang on this competition journey was the fact that there wasn’t any particular wine that represented China. He also found, through his research, that there was also no competition educating wine consumers in the Chinese market about the wines being made in their own country. Their focus on the competitions is to prove their own brands as well as give consumers the best in all areas within the target market of their own country.
What this competition also provides is tangible and transparent education, both for the consumer and for the wine maker. One of the frustrations that Jiang has run into is that master classes on wine in second-tiered cities have inaccurate knowledge and messages about different types of wines. Then, when the consumers within those areas get fed the bad information, they are fooled into believing the wines they are being served are, in fact, the best wines the area has to offer. However, Jiang has personally witnessed these “best wines,” and has come to find that the wines being showcased in these master classes are less than so. This leads to the consumer pushing wine because it is “not for them,” and thus, the target market has dwindled.
So, Jiang set out to change that. He believes that the education that comes from these Wine 100’s competitions should be utilized to help consumers enjoy wine and improve their overall lifestyle. But, he understood that the competition wasn’t enough. Exposure of these wines to these types of cities receiving inaccurate information was just as important. This lead to them establishing two different things that take place after every competition: a national tour and master classes taught by some of the judges.
They advertise the competition beforehand while they are training the panel of judges chosen for the deliberations, and after the awards have been given out, the national tour takes place. The award-winning wines are taken to multiple second and third-tier cities, where the exposure and the treatment received is the kind that you would find in a city such as Shanghai. This has resulted in positive fervor, which has translated not only into new consumers, but also into trust.
But that isn’t all. In 2012, Wine 100 introduced their own master classes and seminars, which were held and taught by key judges within the panel of current judges. These classes and seminars have attracted wine loves and wine professionals alike, and it has enabled them to broaden the accurate education of wine to be taken back to the masses. This has allowed for Wine 100 to position themselves as a marketing firm instead of defining themselves solely by their yearly competition, and it has enabled them to influence their normal consumer base while encouraging them to enjoy wine in a better way. Not only that, but Jiang has said that Wine 100 also wants to help winemakers break out into the massive China market.
China is massive, and there is never going to be a consumer product that is a one-size-fits-all for their expansive consumable market. Not only that, but many of China’s existing importation taxes have been altered. This, along with China having limited domestically consumed goods, makes the Chinese market very appealing to both domestic winemakers as well as importers.
Each city has a different preference in food, libations, and even technology. This competition serves as a platform to designate multiple types of award-winning wines, enabling the spread of them across a vast market. Because many of China’s overseas palates don’t change, while the bigger cities have more international palates, the drastically different wines can always find their niche within the market, thereby turning over a profit while garnering mounting trust in Wine 100 from their target consumer base.
The biggest problem that Jiang has encountered with the competition thus far is the fact that many small wineries in have created the habit of making small production barrels specifically for competition. They throw all of their energy into this one barrel to win, but when it comes times to distribute it on a bigger scale, there isn’t enough to go around. This backlashes not only on the competitor’s brands, but also on Wine 100. People walk into retail stores looking for these award-winning wines and their different brands, and they find mediocre wines instead of the wines that won.
Do you know how he combats this issue? Jiang tells winemakers submitting for the competition that he will be walking into retail stores and purchasing their wine right off the shelves! Not only that, but he has said that he will give them honest feedback and give them honest feedback based on what they put on the shelves to improve their retail brand if they still insist on competing with “just one barrel.”
Another issue Jiang has run into is the rising submissions of imported wines. While the competition does support a few of them (who are background checked for consistency in technique as well as credibility), imports are not their target product. So, because of the outstanding number of import submissions, they created the China Importer Assessment Center. This particular department assesses importer credibility and capability, as well as potential within the Chinese market. A few that pass make it to the competition, but the great thing is that the others submitted still get honest feedback on their wines and how to improve their techniques and flavor profiles.
Wine 100 has taken the wine competition market by storm. They have created an international competition feel on a national level competition scene, and it has grown them into the ruling thumb for yearly wine flavors and techniques. They are one of the most trusted companies on the scene, and their yearly wine competitions are about to be taken to city-wide festivals that pop up around the country.
Needless to say, Wine 100 is taking the country by storm, and bringing along with it a reputation consumers can trust.