Italy rides towards its conquest of the Chinese dragon.
The figures are clear: in the first 7 months of 2016 Italian wine exports grew by 28.1% and, according to the estimates, sales by the end of this year will exceed the 100 million threshold for the first time ever, reaching a total of 120 million. This statement comes from Giovanni Mantovani, the director General of Veronafiere, interviewed in Shanghai during Tmall 9.9, the Alibaba Global Wine&Spirits Festival.
This success can actually be credited to Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce colossus.
During Vinitaly, back in April, Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma was already urging Italian wine producers to look towards the Orient and to push for market growth through digital sales. The fact is, 13% of Chinese people between the ages of 18 and 36 buy wine across the internet. This is a significantly larger percentage than found in the USA, another top buyer, where the proportion is no more than 3%.
There is, however, still a long way to go: even though the strength of a Made in Italy product lies in its price/quality relationship, other countries, such as our main competitor France, have had a more systematic approach and, with solid backing from their institutions, have been able to put their footprint on the Asian digital market, building an image of excellence. Although that 28.1% represents the largest percentage in growth out of all international exports (the average is 21.8%), the Italian market share is stuck at 5.58%: a small percentage for a leader in wine production and exportation such as Italy.