Australia Seeks Rising Asian Middle Class

Atlas Wine Group - Tuesday, June 12, 2012
An increasingly affluent middle class in Asia will be pivotal for the development of Australian wine in the region think producers.

To do so the message will have to be on brands and the premium end of company ranges.

Anthony Davie, managing director of Treasury Wine Estates Asia, told the drinks business that the company was focused on brand building as it sought to cement the reputation of Australia.

“We believe in building brands,” he said, “In China especially it’s what they’re looking for and we have them in the form of Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Beringer etc.

“We have to take a long term approach though,” he continued. “We haven’t chased volume we’ve focused on the premium end and again we have brands that can operate at that end of the market.”

He explained that China and indeed the entire region was a “complex market” and it was best navigated with good distribution and brand building.

More importantly he stressed that companies had to be “realistic about how they build their businesses” and he was glad to see domestic wine and spirits companies developing, as they helped bring drinkers into their respective categories.

Speaking to db, Nick Blair, global communications director for Pernod Ricard, was positive about Australia’s chances too and also highlighted the importance of brands and the premium end of the market when focusing on Asia.

“We need to focus on our premium wines and our strong brand heritage, it’s very important in this market,” he said.

He commented on Australia’s growing market share – although he added that it was the product of 20 years work not something that had sprung up “overnight”.

“France has the lion’s share but Australia is number two and growing. We have momentum and if we continue in that vein and don’t do the wrong thing it’ll be great for all Aussie producers in the long run.”

Chris Hatcher, chief winemaker for Wolf Blass, said that Australia had to capture the rising middle class and the approachable style of its wines could lead it into a position of favour it last saw in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It’s not dissimilar to the UK in that period,” he said, “Lafite and those big names will always be there but the rising middle class here will look for countries like Australia because they’re after wines to drink and labels they understand.”

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