Promotion of Bordeaux Wines in China

Mar 02, 2011 2 Comments by

The Bordeaux Wine Council in China

Thomas Jullien based in HK created his own structure called Pilot Fish, a consultant business in the wines & spirits branch in China. The Bordeaux Wine Council is one of his main clients who he helps with establishing and carrying on its strategy in China.

Zhongguo Wine: Thank you M. Jullien to have accepted this interview.

ZW: Could you first explain what the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) consists of?

Thomas Julien: CIVB is a private organization of public interest created in 1947, under the authority of the Ministry of Agriculture. All Bordeaux growers and merchants are members of the Council, they participate to the decisions through their representatives and contribute to the budget. CIVB pursues 3 main missions :

- R&D : fund research to strengthen overall quality of Bordeaux wines

- Economy : track figures related to production, distribution, image to monitor efficiently the Bordeaux trade.

- Promotion : invest in marketing programs on main markets to develop sales and awareness of Bordeaux wines.

Last not least, CIVB is also in charge of protecting the Bordeaux appellations and representing the trade to the authorities.

ZW: Education seems to be an important action led by the Bordeaux Wine Council to promote its wines in China. How does it work exactly?

T J: Education is a key component of marketing programs launched by CIVB in general and particularly in China. The Bordeaux Wine School works on 2 levels. The first are one-day seminars targeting the Chinese trade(importers, distributors, retailers, sommeliers medias etc… ) and organized directly in 1st tier and 2nd tier cities. They take place in mandarin and participants get a thorough presentation on Bordeaux wines and appellations through history, geography, tasting, philosophy of winemaking etc… We generally visit 10 cities a year and have between 50 to 120 participants in each function.

For most trainees, the seminars give them the basic working knowledge to sell Bordeaux wines. But for a few it can also be the stepping stone to the 2nd level : the Bordeaux Wine School accreditation. Chinese wine trainers that wish to become Bordeaux tutors can take an exam at the end of each seminar. The best candidates get the opportunity to go to Bordeaux to attend a one-week intensive training for trainers. Successful candidates receive the Bordeaux Wine School accreditation and commit to organize Bordeaux trainings on their own. We currently have 30 tutors in 10 cities in China whose mission is to spread the knowledge on Bordeaux wines.

ZW: What are the other means you use to promote the Bordeaux wines?  (PR, events, ads)

T J: Press relations are a good way of getting in touch with consumers to further explain Bordeaux wines. We have established a good working relationship with main Chinese magazines, TV’s, newspapers, websites etc… We develop specific topics for them, hence positioning ourselves as content providers. Most medias are eager to participate as wine is a hot topic in China and Bordeaux enjoys a very positive aura. It gives us the ability to work specific target groups and benefit from the endorsement of these medias at the same time.

We also have a yearly program called Simply Bordeaux that aims to convey the diversity of the Bordeaux range of wine available in China. It starts with Chinese importers of Bordeaux wines. Each year, we give them the opportunity to submit some wines from their Bordeaux portfolio in a price bracket from 100 to 350 rmb retail price. The wines should already be imported to China and available in the distribution. We have more than 100 importers participating in the program and sending several samples to be tasted.

We then organize a blind tasting with a Chinese tasting panel. This is key for us that the tasting panel is Chinese and reviewing the wines according to what they consider wines most fitted for the Chinese palate. We come up with a list of 100 wines that we put together in a leaflet and on a dedicated website. These wines are also featured in big tastings organized in China first tier cities where importers get a chance to showcase their Bordeaux portfolio to wholesalers, retailers, hotels and restaurants buyers. Each year thousands of participants from the trade attend these tastings and therefore get a chance to take advantage of the commercial opportunities offered by the Bordeaux range of wines.

In 2011, the Simply Bordeaux tour will follow this schedule :

Beijing, April the 15th

Xiamen, April the 18

Guangzhou, April the 19l

Wuhan, April the 21st

Shanghai, April the 22nd

ZW: Is internet a part of your strategy?

T J: It is. We deal with main news and lifestyle websites the way we deal with main offline medias. Web writers and bloggers are obviously invited to our functions. This year we will go further and create a dedicated platform for direct relationships with Chinese consumers. It will provide them all the info they need to have on Bordeaux wines in a lively and entertaining way, engaging them to further explore the Bordeaux world.

ZW: What is the image of Bordeaux wines in China? What future do you predict for them?

T J: We are truly fortunate that Bordeaux wines enjoy a wonderful image in China. All surveys point that Bordeaux is the leading wine origin in terms of sales, awareness and intention to buy. It is perceived as the reference, a safe bet offering value across different price points. As for the future, I see Bordeaux wines continuing on a trend of diversification within the Bordeaux offer: 5 years ago you would mostly see entry level and high end red Bordeaux on the China market. Intermediate levels have gained traction as Chinese importers and consumers discovered a world of very good value wines, sometimes from lesser known appellations within the Bordeaux portfolio. We will also see a lot more dry and sweet white wines, they are very good match to put in front the huge diversity of flavours you find in Chinese cuisines.

Lucas Botebol for Zhongguo Wine: Wine in China

Here are the cities and dates for the next seminars of the Bordeaux Wine Concil:

Tianjing, May the 30th

Shenyang, June the 1st

Ningbo, June the 3rd

Nanjing, July the 11th

Changsha, July the 13th

Beijing (Master class), July the 15th

Sanya, September the 19th

Nanning, Sept the 21st

Shenzhen, Sept the 23rd

To register please contact Christophe Tran,

News, Wine Education in China

About the author

The author didnt add any Information to his profile yet

2 Responses to “Promotion of Bordeaux Wines in China”

  1. Les vins de Bordeaux en Chine ‹ Marketing en Chine says:

    […] lire l’article en anglais promotion of Bordeau Wines in China […]

  2. James Oliver Swann says:

    Since 2008 a range of new phenomena can be observed in the Bordeaux classed growth dominated fine and rare wines market, not without risk, to do with China, brands over Parker, aggregate demand and momentum. In the context of a possible softening of demand alongside a slowly widening market and what looks set to be another high-priced – high-quality 2010 en primeur campaign, we try to contribute to critical debate on these issues and the outlook for 2010 in upcoming blog pieces.

    James Oliver Swann working for Ditton Wine Traders

Leave a Reply