By Jim Boyce | I recently talked to a bunch of trade people for a Shanghai retail story in Meininger’s Wine Business International. We could only use a small portion of their comments so I’m running bonus excerpts on Grape Wall.
One interviewee was Alberto Fernandez, managing partner of Torres China, which also operates the retail brand Everwines.
On Everwines shops in Shanghai:
Our experience with brick and mortar operations in Shanghai has shown the evolution in the way consumers shop. In the past, many of our stores in Shanghai attracted people who wanted to shop because there was bit of a lack of wine stores in the city. But with the development of e-commerce, and the way the overall wine market is developing, it’s becoming more difficult to get traffic. We can entertain and show our products and wines to customers but these places are not working as traditional shops.
We see that situation today not only for wine but also for many other products. Platforms like Tmall and JD.com, that’s actually where people go and shop for whatever they need, from a toaster to a bottle of wine.
On plans for Everwines expansion:
We still have shops on the outskirts of Shanghai that are franchises for Everwines but we do not plan to develop our own shops in the city. The cost of rent and operations is very high and it doesn’t really make much sense to develop so many shops in only one city. We prefer to develop many shops in other cities and our next openings are in Guangdong and Jiangsu, in smaller cities, where our shops are needed.
On Shanghai consumers:
Shanghai is without a doubt the most sophisticated wine market in China. People are interested in many sorts of wines and regions, are willing to try different things, and like to show it. They are very competitive in terms of gaining knowledge. They also like to show off a little bit between Shanghainese: “You don’t know this wine I tasted, it’s from this or that place, it’s very special for this reason or that.” At the same time, there are many sommeleirs in this town who are influencing many followers.
On Shanghai consumer wine preferences:
In terms of spending, they’ve shown an inclination recently for Burgundy: they will pay good money, but if it’s too expensive, they will just buy outside. That’s why Hong Kong is so popular for fine wines: it’s the perfect place to pick up wine or get it sent to your home in the rest of China.
We also see a little bit of a surge in Riesling. It’s something people are actually promoting quite a lot these days, German Riesling especially.
Note: Check out other interviews in this series, including with Simone InContro of VinItaly, Oliver Zhou of Vinehoo, Charles Carrard of Paradox, Marcus Ford of Pudao and Campbell Thompson of The Wine Republic.