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Chinese open to “elegant ” label styles

Chinese wine consumers may still revere traditional labels on the wines they buy, but they are open to more contemporary interpretations, according to new research published by Wine Intelligence.

In its inaugural China Label Report, Wine Intelligence in conjunction with wine label designers Amphora tested eight styles of label during in-depth interviews with a sample of 40 upper middle class Chinese consumers from Beijing and Shanghai who drink imported wine regularly.

The overriding need among consumers was for reassurance, and this typically correlated with consumers’ perceptions of how sophisticated and traditional the label looked. More funky, modern labelling tended to be treated with caution by respondents, many of whom still struggle to interpret some of the wine terms written on the labels.

However, there appears to be some room for more contemporary label interpretations. The “Elegant Contemporary” design, which incorporates some of the traditional cues of simple line drawings and landscapes with more white space and modern typefaces, also proved popular with respondents.

Jenny Li, author of the report, said: “The key thing to understand about wine labelling in China is the importance of the initial visual impression. This is a culture that is closely tuned to visual symbols, and in any case the wording on the front label is often unintelligible to all but the most sophisticated wine consumer.”

Jenny Li, research manager at Wine Intelligence and the report’s lead author, said: “It’s probably fair to say that we are reaching the end of the first stage of China’s wine market evolution. As we progress towards a more mature marketplace, we will see consumer demand shift from the professional gifting occasion towards purchasing for home consumption.”

She added: “To succeed in China, brand owners will need to understand very clearly the visual impression that their wine gives through its label design, and use that information to build their brand story more effectively.”

The China Label Report is published by Wine Intelligence and available from the Wine Intelligence Reports Shop, priced at GBP 500, EUR 600, AUD 800, USD 800 or 1 Report Credit.


1 July 2012 - Felicity Murray