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The Most Strategic Distribution Channel for French Wine in China


For the last two decades, china lacked any wholesale or distribution network for the imported French wine. However, summergate wines and ASC fine wines which are the two major companies that are in control of the Chinese market for premium imported wines assisted in changing all that. It was extremely hard for them during the first four to five years due to the absence of any channels of distribution, and it was virtually impossible to find staff that any anything about wines. Therefore, they were forced to hire on character and educate individuals about wine. In other parts of the world, importers sell to distributors and wholesalers who then sell on to wine shops, private clients and restaurants. However, this kind of network never existed in china twenty years ago. It was the responsibility of Shanghai based ASC to find its own customers and build its own technique of distribution, with the help of employees who were unfamiliar with wine.

In the nineteen nineties, the foreign French wine distributors brought expertise to the Chinese market. Some few years ago due to the relaxed rules on the establishment of import businesses, it has resulted to private companies entering this market with significant impact. These companies have begun taking market share from foreign French wine distributors and have an upper hand in being able to tap into government and corporate client networks. The Chinese market is divided into two between closed and open market. Closed market entails a mass of uncoordinated local players with lower standards of storage, supply, storage and organization while as the open market covers the whole traditional areas of supply via established distributors, wholesalers, retailers and importers.

French wine distributors have excellent access to restaurants, supermarkets, specialty stores, and bars in the major Chinese cities and have a sales force which respond very fast to the client orders. Hypermarkets and supermarkets are excellent sales channels for French wine. However, they sometimes charge promotion and shelf fees which may make the wines to lose shelf space very fast in case they do not sell well. For instance, French wines are offered in hypermarkets such as metro and Carrefour identified by their country of origin amongst other domestic and imported wines in china. A new phenomenon has seen the specialty retail wine shops being opened in shanghai despite the fact that wine is traditionally retailed via state owned liquor and tobacco shops. Generally, these specialty wine store have unique marketing strategies, providing educational events as well as food and wine matching seminars.

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