A qualitative study of Chinese wine consumption and purchasing: Implications for Australian wines

Fang Liu, Jamie Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This research aims to examine Chinese consumers’ wine consumption and purchasing behaviour.Design/methodology/approach – The study, conducted during the Chinese New Year in early 2006, used in-depth interviews with 15 consumers in Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.Findings – The results suggest that Chinese consume Chinese spirits for all occasions, yet consume red wine only for special occasions such as Chinese new year and other holidays. A key point for selling red wine to the Chinese is its positive image; drinking red wine is considered trendy and shows good taste. Another key point is consumer perceptions of red wine as healthier than Chinese spirits because wine contains less alcohol. Two other findings are that most Chinese consumers assume all wine is red wine and have little wine knowledge. Most respondents did not know of white wine or that Australia produces wine. Finally, China's culture of face value, mianzi, plays a key role in purchasing and consuming wine. Chinese tend to purchase inexpensive wine for private consumption and public occasions, yielding more mianzi in front of others. In some important occasions, consumers will purchase a foreign (French) red wine to impress their guests and obtain even more mianzi. In most situations, Chinese purchase and consume wine for perceived health and symbolic – lucky or good face – values.Research limitations/implications – The small sample size is a limitation. Another limitation is that all the respondents lived in the urban area of Guangzhou, one of China's most developed cities. The findings do not generalize to China.Practical implications – The findings suggest that wine is a symbolic product rather than a necessity product in China; therefore, image is an important attribute for selling wine in China. Furthermore, limited wine knowledge tends to make Chinese consumers rely heavily on price for their wine purchasing decisions, as price relates to mainzi. Chinese consumers’ high awareness of France as a wine making country and their deep-rooted positive beliefs about French wines pose difficulties for marketing other foreign wines, such as Australian wines, in China.Originality/value – This is perhaps the first academic study in English of Chinese wine consumption and wine purchasing. It offers important insights on the characteristics of wine consumption and purchasing in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-113
JournalInternational Journal of Wine Business Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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