As traditional wine companies continue to break into the e-commerce scene in China, developing websites to focus on their particular wines, the competition for online sales through these platforms is intensifying daily. When establishing e-commerce websites for a brand, there is no single right answer to the question of which platform to choose – setting up shop on Jingdong, Taobao, Tmall, or any other major platform can all be effective.
Instead, the key to sticking out among the competition in the Internet sales game is marketing; increased brand recognition and sales volume can be achieved through active participation in any activities being run on the platform and an innovative and engaging marketing style.
So, what are some of the major sales holidays observed by China’s e-commerce platforms? Grab your calendar, because wine sellers and consumers alike will not want to miss these opportunities.
Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) Shopping Period
January 1 through the Spring Festival
As its name implies, the Spring Festival shopping period is a seasonal event created by the major e-commerce platforms to mark the celebration of, and preparation for, the Spring Festival in China. Since ancient times, drinking alcoholic beverages has been a popular method for the Chinese people to express their joy and happiness throughout this holiday season, especially for gatherings of friends and family where alcohol is seen as an absolutely essential part of the celebration.
Therefore, consumers will often take advantage of the seasonal discounts and promotions offered during the Spring Festival shopping season to stock up on good wines in anticipation of visiting with loved ones throughout the season. Whether it is a rich and aged baijiu, or a smooth and gentle wine, all are essential additions to the shopping cart for the Chinese during the Spring Festival shopping season.
Over the past few years, major e-commerce platforms have also come to rely on integrated free trade zones to develop resource advantages, as they are able to gather top products from around the world to sell to Chinese consumers.
An extensive range of wines from France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and nearly 100 other countries and regions are made available for purchase by consumers, and an enormous number of consumers made purchases of such items during last year’s Spring Festival shopping period. Top-quality red wines are an especially bright spot for sales during the Spring Festival shopping season, as wine sellers issue a nonstop stream of promotions and “buy one get one” discounts for online shoppers.
Best Friends Festival
March 1 – March 8
In China, March belongs to the ladies, and many stores and e-commerce platforms will offer promotions and discounts aimed at female consumers during the first week of the month. Societal and economic development have given women more independence in their careers and with their finances, and these changes have given rise to a new economic phenomenon – the “she-economy.”
The “March 7th Girls’ Day” and “International Women’s Day” holidays are closely linked to this phenomenon, and have therefore become a major e-commerce battleground. As was written in one online editorial about wine shopping, “The end of the year can’t come quickly enough to buy that special gift for your best girlfriend, so buy her a bottle of fine wine in celebration of the ‘Best Friends Festival’ to drink at your next girls’ night in, instead.”
According to sales reports from e-commerce platforms, the rate at which female consumers purchased wine increased far more than that of male consumers, with the number of users growing 62% from the previous year
Shunfeng Best, part of the express delivery and logistical services group Shunfeng, has taken the lead in forming the “global beauty products” concept, where businesses carefully select and sell food items that are thought to be beneficial for female beauty. Yellow lemons from South Africa, rose honey from New Zealand, peach sparkling wine from Italy, and other imported products have all grown extremely popular with female consumers in China.
According to sales reports from e-commerce platforms from the peak shopping season in 2018, the rate at which female consumers purchased wine increased far more than that of male consumers, with the number of users growing 62% from the previous year – a trend that also held steady across other categories of alcoholic products.
517 Food Festival
In Chinese, the sequence 517 (signifying the date “May 17”) sounds similar to the phrase “I want to eat,” and as such the day has become a celebration of foodie culture in China. The first such 517 Food Festival can be traced back to the year 2014, when the sales website for Internet giant Baidu’s gourmet foods group, Nuomi Online, created the holiday through a series of flash sales on its food products.
In the years since, other platforms such as Tmall Marketplace, Hema Fresh Market, and the takeout platform Ele.me have all developed their own “517 Food Festival” events, providing consumers with discounts on a wide range of online and offline purchases.
Not only do “foodies” have an opportunity to eat for free or save big on their orders during the festival, they also receive free gift packages for food, drinks, entertainment and more. The major fine food eateries are deeply aware of the incredible strength of China’s “foodie army,” and popular items such as edible bird’s nests, cheese biscuits, rice wine, imported wines, and other gourmet foods may hit the market with special markdown prices as low as “1 yuan.”
During the 517 Food Festival of 2015, one event held by the gourmet foods platform DianPing exceeded 200 million yuan in sales over a 24-hour period beginning on May 15 at 10 o’clock. Nearly 2 million foodies participated in the celebration, and the nearly 1 million free meals that had been provided were gone in just 2 hours’ time.
618 Shopping Festival
Beginning as a mid-year promotional event held by Jingdong back in 2012, the 618 Shopping Festival has already grown to become one of the biggest online sales events of the year in China, second only to “Single’s Day.”
In its 2019 report of sales data over the period from June 1 through June 18, Jingdong revealed a strong year-to-year increase of 40% in alcoholic beverage sales, with wine sales enjoying an increase of 41%. Sales numbers for Maotai, Wuliangye, Hennessey, Lafite, and other liquor brands were especially eye-popping, with Lafite sales improving by over 100%, while Yellow Tail, Penfolds, and other wine brands already familiar to Chinese consumers continued their strong domination of the market.
One of the most innovative marketing campaigns to come out of the wine industry over the past few years is the interactive game developed by the Lafite Group, “Finding Wine’s Golden Ratio.” Through this game, consumers were able to quickly familiarize themselves with the brand and receive online coupons, even getting a chance to win “A Trip to Explore Chile’s Los Vasco Winery.”
Meanwhile, Lafite also opened its Feichang Institute in April, and embarked on a two-month lecture circuit promoting its products, getting the word out about its game, and garnering a huge amount of interest for its brand ahead of the 618 Shopping Festival, all of which materialized into a huge sales volume.
The Single’s Day, or Double Eleven, shopping festival is a day of online deals and sales that takes place every year on November 11. Originating as an online promotional event run by Taobao Mall (Tmall) in 2009, participation among sellers and the level of discounts were modest in the beginning.
However, when results still greatly exceeded all expectations for the event, November 11 became established as a permanent promotional event for Tmall from that year forward. Today, Single’s Day has become the largest yearly sales event for China’s e-commerce industry, and has slowly grown to influence the e-commerce industry on an international scale.
Today, Single’s Day has become the largest yearly sales event for China’s e-commerce industry, and has slowly grown to influence the e-commerce industry on an international scale.
Single’s Day is celebrated across the entire e-commerce industry, and the wine industry is certainly invited to the “party.” This year, Tmall promotions for the event included direct discounts of 40 yuan applied to orders of 300 yuan, discounts of 80 yuan applied to orders of 600 yuan, and more discounts which continued in this fashion toward an unlimited ceiling.
The event is truly a can’t-miss opportunity for consumers. During this year’s “Single’s Day” pre-sale event, in addition to receiving immediate discounts on their purchases, customers were offered special pre-sale gifts, such as BOGO sales and free drinkware sets, by nearly all of the major wine brands when shopping on their online stores. In fact, these deals were probably too good, and consumers were “ruthless” in clearing out the stock of many sellers; by the end of October, many were forced to display messages like the following with their most popular products: “due to extremely high demand, this item is currently out of stock.”
The e-commerce wine platform Yesmywine has also shown that the sales through its website increased tremendously on Single’s Day, and further revealed that its sales through Tmall were only a portion of its total, combined online and offline sales volume. During an interview, Yesmywine vice-president Wang Yang stated: “Our goal is to make a profit.” He emphasized that Yesmywine is “different from other brands,” in that “we do not clear out our entire stock through excessive discounts and sales.”
As the year winds to a close, many wine lovers are looking to stock up on their favorites during the final wave of e-commerce discounts, which take place on the shopping holiday Double Twelve. The Autumn and Winter holiday seasons are typically the peak sales periods for alcohol products, and according to statistics from Jingdong, every tenth consumer making a purchase on Double Twelve is buying red wine.
Data from Changyu’s official brand store on Tmall confirms this trend, showing that the hot sales season for Changyu’s series of products falls in Autumn and Winter, and reaches its peak in December when consumers are most active in purchasing gifts or preparing to receive guests for the holidays.
However, a new phenomenon that has been taking shape over the past few years should not be overlooked: the steadily increasing consumer demand for customization and diversification in their shopping experience. One of the consumer habits most clearly influenced by the Internet is the demand for customization, and each consumer now expects the external appearance, brand ideologies, textures, and even the delivery of a product to align with their preferences – and, a thousand different consumers may have a thousand different ideal products or shopping experiences in mind.
The Autumn and Winter holiday seasons are typically the peak sales periods for alcohol products, and according to statistics from Jingdong, every tenth consumer making a purchase on Double Twelve is buying red wine.
In order to satisfy consumer demand for more diversified gift options during the Spring Festival season, and to increase the level of participation and interaction with their consumers, the health-conscious wine brand Jingpai has added a few special benefits for those who join their official Tmall store, including special member-only access to hot-selling products.
According to a customer service representative at Jingpai, the store designs special sections into its online store for its Double Twelve sales event, based on product features and criteria gleaned from analysis of user data recorded in the period leading up to the holiday season. These sections might include gift boxes, or new product experiences, or other arrangements to economize the time spent by consumers browsing through the online store. The representative stated that “we hope to make members out of our customers through specialized services and new product events; to this end, we use the overall data tools provided by Tmall and apply them to our member base, enabling us to provide more specialized and precisely targeted services.”