Jack Ma has made an incredible impact on China, one of his key contributions has been to create new holidays to add to the calendar. The man behind Singles’ Day has now created Wine Day – a move that will surely solidify this growing habit of the Chinese middle class.
Last week, we provided our analysis of how Tmall was changing the Chinese calendar, Jack Ma has now announced a new sales day devoted exclusively to deals on wine, dubbed 9/9 – the number signifies the date of September 9th with double use of the Chinese word for nine, that also has the same pronunciation as the word for alcohol.
In what Ma dubs the ‘day of wine’ – looks like it will be a booze-based version of China’s ‘singles day’, which Ma and Alibaba popularised as an online shopping event in China, akin to Black Friday in the US.
Ma, the recent purchaser of the wine estate Château de Sours in Bordeaux, will be hoping for similar success with Wine Day. Last year, his China’s singles day sales totalled US$14bn, becoming one of the most important events in the Chinese retail calendar.
It is expected that Ma will roll out pricey bottles from his newly acquired Château de Sours, as well as involve his celebrity friend actress Vicky Zhao, who now owns Château Monlot. This suggests Chinese-owned Bordeaux estates could be the primary focus of China’s Wine Day. But read on, there is hope for everyone else.
A nation turning to wine?
Online wine drinking and online-sales of wine are ‘going through the roof’ in China. Alibaba’s rival, JD.com predicts online purchase volumes to triple in coming years.
At the street level, the increased consumption of wine by couples and friends is noticeable in the bigger cities, especially Shanghai. From a cultural perspective, this can be explained by the iconism and sophistication provided by wine. Wine offers ‘face’, but does not come across as traditional and try-hard, in the way that traditional Chinese alcohol does.
Also, from a practical standpoint, wine works well for mix-gender groups, it is more social and provides an entry-point form of drinking. And the food-paring element fits well with locals – who would happily admit they are food obsessed.
If you’re not a Chinese-owned Bordeaux, how do you leverage China’s Wine Day?
So Jack Ma is a smart, he sees this as an opportunity to cement this behaviour through Wine Day. But if you are not from Jack’s House, how do you still use Wine Day to connect with local drinkers?
Don’t become a second-class wine citizen
Realize that China Wine Day will be all about Bordeaux, to further Jack and his friends, this will create a dangerous precedent in terms of how local wine consumers view geographic hierarchy. Australia, New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, and Italy – you have four months to hammer your message home, otherwise you will forever be considered second-class citizens in the wine world of Chinese consumers.
Be a Wine Guerrilla
He announced it early, so you have plenty of opportunity to create parallel or guerrilla events.
Learn from Wine Day
Watch how Jack promotes wine day, it will give you cues on how consumers are discussing it. It will be a very transparent barometer of how wine is perceived by locals – a one-day intensive course on local wine marketing – of sorts.
Make Digital Preparations
Create your digital ecosystem so it coordinates with wine day, you know there will be alot of activity that day – make sure you connect with the buzz.
It is, of course, going to be big. So don’t wait to see. Make plans for China Wine Day. If you need help, I have a SMART plan for Wine Day for SMART Wine Clients.