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New ProWein Study Provides Insight to Asian Wine Markets

Younger Asian wine drinkers drive growth in five key markets and in-country representation is key to success.
December 12, 2012

For the newly released survey about Asian wine markets, Messe Düsseldorf, organizer of the ProWein trade fair, enlisted the renowned British market research institute Wine Intelligence. The results are based on extensive qualitative and quantitative research with consumers, importers and distributors across Asia. The result: China will remain the most attractive Asian market for wine exporters in the next five years. But the wine industry should also take advantage of opportunities in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and even Taiwan – the other key Asian countries studied in the report.

Although all five markets differ substantially - it would be a mistake for the wine industry to consider Asia as a single cultural entity - there are some trends and characteristics that can be observed across the continent. The new ProWein study “Asia – Opportunities in China and beyond” shows that the trend towards every day, affordable imports is evident across Asia as wine gets away from its image of being purely a luxury product and becomes more attractive to younger consumers. They in particular like wine as part of their lifestyles and show a real interest in understanding it better. The on-trade is often the best way to target these consumers.

Further key finding of the survey: In-country representation is key to success. “The wine producers who will achieve the biggest success will be the ones who not only understand these trends but actually take time to establish a physical presence in their target markets. It’s not possible to access the markets in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore or Taiwan from an office outside those countries,” said Richard Halstead, chief operating officer at Wine Intelligence. Michael Degen, Division Director in charge of ProWein at Messe Düsseldorf, added: “This result from our ProWein survey confirms experiences we have also had in other commercial sectors as a worldwide trade fair organizer. This is why we are offering our customers from the wine sector an ideal platform to present themselves on the Chinese market at ProWine China from November 13–15, 2013.”

China’s spectacular growth is likely to continue due to improved ranges in supermarkets and more affordable pricing. Consumers are associating imported wine with sophistication and wellbeing and the number of imported wine drinkers is expected to increase well beyond the current 19 million.

In Japan, much of the market growth is being driven by the off-trade, as consumers turn away from the on-trade for economic reasons. Wine is increasingly part of the meal experience for Japanese families as they embrace more Western-style eating habits. With 47 million regular wine drinkers, Japan is a relatively mature market for wine, with younger consumers regarding wine as a trendy drink and more open to “experiment” than older Japanese wine drinkers.

In South Korea too, growth is coming from younger people. The market has a huge capacity for growth; wine accounts for just 20 percent of drinks sales and is regarded by many Koreans as a special-occasion beverage. But the market has been growing steadily since 2000, particularly when it comes to Chilean imports and sparkling wines.

Singapore is the smallest of the five markets but the wine industry here is already buoyant, with an increasingly knowledgeable population keen to learn more about wine. Strong brand identity and high volumes are often the key to success in this geographically limited market.

Taiwan is a more problematic market for wine exports than the other Asian countries. There are more barriers facing the wine industry, including a ban on internet sales, high taxes and few English language speakers. The high price of wine and lack of female drinkers are also factors that limit opportunities in Taiwan. But again, younger consumers are showing an interest in wine and helping it to not be regarded as a prestige product.

A comprehensive summary of the survey results (in English) will be available from Messe Düsseldorf in February 2013 for Euro 249 (Euro 199 for ProWein 2013 exhibitors). Orders can be placed at

For information on visiting or exhibiting at ProWein 2013 or ProWine China 2013, contact Messe Düsseldorf North America, 150 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2920, Chicago, IL 60601, (312) 781-5180, Visit the web site at

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