Foreign spirits producers eyeing middle class

By Deng Zhangyu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-04-18 08:49:50

Cognac, which was among the first spirits introduced to China as early as the 19th century, accounts for a large part of the imported spirit market in China. Its sales has returned to normal after years of increasing in bottles and prices driven by Chinese consumers' "abnormal mindset", experts says.

Maurice-Richard Hennessy, who belongs to the eighth generation of the Hennessy family, noticed that many Chinese visiting his hometown Cognac in France are starting to sip cognac and enjoy the liquor instead of downing cups of it in one go.

"It's interesting that now many Chinese people visiting vineyards in Cognac are willing to know how the wines are made and appreciate the craft instead of just buying some bottles," said Hennessy, adding that the number of Chinese visitors to Cognac rises every year.

Fan Tinglue, a wine expert, said Chinese drinkers used to only care about the vintage and price of foreign spirits such as cognac. They wanted to prove they were rich enough to have luxury cognac, and few thought about the taste or the way they drank it.

"Cognac consumers are rational. They understand how to appreciate a good bottle just like Western consumers. From this aspect, the government's austerity policies have helped to form a healthy spirits market," said Fan.

Alcohol producers have gradually adapted to the changing market over the past two years. Most are active in introducing mid-level priced spirits to their new targeted group-China's booming middle class.

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