Alcoholic preferences in Chinese First-Tier Cities

Alcohol in China – Part II

Consumer Behavior towards alcoholic beverages in China

The following article deals with the alcohol consumption in China based on the research conducted by analyse asia GmbH, using its own online survey tool OMUS. On behalf of the online statistics portal Statista, around 400 consumers in the four first-tier cities Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong and Shenzhen, were surveyed in the time frame of 2 weeks, between the age 18 and 60.

As we pointed out in our previous article, there is a considerable change in the Chinese drinking culture, since alcoholic beverages were historically reserved for men only.  Due to urbanization and gender equality, an increasing demand can be noted. The distribution of alcohol through on and off-sales contributed to this trend in general. Apart from the increasing number of restaurants, clubs and bars, with 48.8% small grocery stores in walking distance were leading the off-sale trades in 2010. [1]

The rising sales might cheer the heart of every producer and economist, through its positive effect on the GDP. The other side of the coin however is a changing social norm, rather to a negative direction. On the one hand there is a low awareness of the effects alcohol consumption can have, on the other hand, despite the fact that a large part of the population has a low tolerance for alcohol, the importance of drinking ability in business environments is rising. Contrary to other countries, with rising age, alcohol consumption rises as well.[2]

Rising Beer Consumption

Grain-based alcoholic beverages like beer and spirits are popular among Chinese consumers. An interesting aspect however is, that preferences and drinking habits vary in different regions. The results of the research concerning alcohol consumption trend show that with 89% of consumers in Shenzhen and 89% in Guangdong, both first-tier cities are in leading position when it comes to beer. Shanghai, located in the East, is following this trend with 87%. According to the report prepared by the Canadian government in 2010, the general preference for lower-alcohol products, especially in Guangdong, is given as a reason. As opposed to this, in the northern part of China, in this case Beijing, 81% of the consumers drink beer.

In all first-tier cities, local beer brands like Harbin, Qingdao, Yanjing, Zhuhai, Reeb are preferred the most, compared to imported ones like Budweiser, Asahi, Suntory and Tiger. This supports the research result from 2010, saying that domestic beer is more dominant than imported foreign products. To be precise, 23% of the consumers drink Harbin the most, 14% Snow and 12% Reeb. The one that seems to be favored the most among the foreign brands is Asahi with 19%.

If we take a look at the different regions separately, we get similar results, namely, Harbin (23%), Suntory (17%) and Snow (12%) being preferred the most in Guangdong, while it is Suntory (17%), Harbin (16%) and Reeb (15%) in Beijing. Again, in Shanghai Harbin (31%) is on the top of the list, followed by Suntory (22%) and Snow (14%). In Shenzhen 22% go for Santory, 20% Harbin and 15% Reeb/Snow.

The difference between men and women show that 89% of the women consume beer in general, while 56% had 10 servings in the past 7 days. As expected, it is lower than the male consumers, since 62% gave the same response. 9% of the women choose to drink Suntory, 6% Reeb and 6% Harbin. Men at this point take Harbin (27%), Suntory (16%) and Snow (15%).

The Flow of Spirits

For Chinese men, the strength of an alcoholic beverage seems to be an important characteristic, when it comes to considering beverages as a proper drink for men. This explains, why báijiǔ  (白酒), the traditional Chinese white liquor, is mainly preferred by male consumers, especially during business meetings or other occasions.

Though the consumption rate is lower than in the South, there is a growing interest in the North, for Chinese Herbal Spirits, which is being said to have beneficial effects on health.

Nevertheless, in Shenzhen 92% of the interviewees stated to drink spirits, 54% of them saying to have consumed two bottles in the past 30 days. While in Shenzhen the rate of consumption is the highest, contrary to the statement above, with 76%, Beijing shows the lowest rate of spirit consumption.  Only 7% said to have purchased two bottles in the past 30 days.

What else leaps to the eye is the consumption of different income backgrounds. Low-income consumers, earning less than 1500 RMB up until 2999 RMP, obviously tend to drink less (7%), but interestingly consumers with high income, ranging between 8000RMB to 10000RMB and above, drink less as well (17%). The frequent alcohol consumers have an average income ranging between 3000 RMB to 7999RMB making up 63%. One could argue that low-income consumers are rather concerned about making ends meet and spent their money for actual food or cheaper alcoholic beverages, like beer (19%) instead of ‘’semiluxury food’’. I assume that high-income consumers following the trend of healthy lifestyle, which is why they might consume less spirits.[3]

The results of our question as to which brands are preferred reveal that Dong liquor(董酒)is by far the most popular one among 21% of the consumers, followed by Lang Jiu(郎酒) 16%,  Wǔliángyè (五粮液) 15% and Mou Tai 11%. (茅台酒).

Breaking this down, men purchased more bottles than women. In fact, 34% of the male consumers bought two bottles and only 15% of the female consumers bought the same amount. Besides Dong Liquor being favored the most, our results show that men (24%) make up the majority and women (16%) the minority.

In 2010, Chinese producers were convinced that báijiǔ brands will maintain their popularity among older generations. The actual change is expected among younger generations that might opt for foreign brands instead of domestic ones.[4] The same might apply to the trend concerning beer. Genderwise, women drink less than men and most of them favor beer over spirits. Even though China was ranking among countries drinking in moderation, keeping up this pace, it is not only among the best drinking nations, but also overhauled the British, Americans, and Irish.[5] [6] [7]


Dieser Beitrag wurde erstellt von Melis Özgüc und Jens Behling. 



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