Vinitaly International Leverages WeChat To Get One Step Closer to Chinese Wine Consumers

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Vinitaly International, the ambassador for Italian wine, turns to a new dynamic Chinese social platform, WeChat, in its effort to promote Italian wine producers in an increasingly expanding and complicated Chinese market. As the numbers of the Chinese online population rises to a staggering 591 million, with 78.5% of the users accessing Internet through mobile devices (Source: CHINA DIGITAL TIMES, July 17, 2013 - http://tinyurl.com/l47wv54), the impact of social media and e-commerce on Chinese wine import has been highlighted by the rising number of consumers buying wine directly online.

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As the only Western-friendly social platform in the country, WeChat represents an excellent tool of communication for Italian wines.

Vinitaly International, the ambassador for Italian wine, turns to a new dynamic Chinese social platform, WeChat, in its effort to promote Italian wine producers in an increasingly expanding and complicated Chinese market.

As the numbers of the Chinese online population rises to a staggering 591 million, with 78.5% of the users accessing Internet through mobile devices, the impact of social media and e-commerce on Chinese wine import has been highlighted by the rising number of consumers buying wine directly online (Source: CHINA DIGITAL TIMES, July 17, 2013 - http://tinyurl.com/l47wv54).

Data from CNNIC show that China’s overall e-commerce market reached an amazing 1.3 trillion RMB ($190 billion USD) worth of transactions in 2012, an increase of 66.5% compared to the previous year. According to the report the growth was driven mostly by mobile users: during the second half of 2012, 40.7% of online shoppers used a mobile device while 41.8% said they had first found information for a product on a social media platform before deciding to purchase it (Source: TECHCRUNCH.COM, 16 April 2013 - http://tinyurl.com/busrmh8).

The impact of social media on e-commerce and on the Chinese wine sector has been equally strong with the country’s online wine market estimated to be worth some 2.8 trillion Yuan (US$ 457.6 billion) by 2016 according to go.globe.com. Tmall, China’s Premier Online Shopping destination, registered a 32 billion sales volume last year while other Chinese Giants in on-line trade such as YesMyWine, count between 20.000 and 120.000 bottles sold per day.

In the face of these numbers Vinitaly International has taken its commitment to promoting Italian wines in China one step further becoming the first Italian wine agency to open an official account on WeChat, in collaboration with Tencent Holdings, Chinese number one Internet company.

“WeChat is the only Chinese text and voice messaging service to support 18 different languages and is rapidly becoming a bridge between China and the rest of the world. As the only Western-friendly social platform in the country, WeChat represents an excellent tool of communication for Italian wines,” explains Stevie Kim, Managing Director of Vinitaly International, who opened her own WeChat account more than a year ago and has never stopped believing in its enormous potential. For the past two years Vinitaly International has been seeking new ways to promote Italian wine in China as stand alone tasting events are becoming less cost effective.

Today the Chinese social platform counts over 300 million users in the domestic market, and more than 70 million users outside China, up from 40 million in April. And there is still room for growth: in the past few weeks, a buzz is spreading across the world while Chinese Internet giant Tencent is seeking to expand the product's reach across 15 different markets.

The new campaign, for which Tencent has recruited soccer player Lionel Messi, is spreading throughout Italy where We Chat is rapidly superseding Whatsapp, preparing to pave the way for Italian producers wishing to invest in China’s expanding wine market.

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Veronafiere is the leading organizer of trade shows in Italy including Vinitaly (http://www.vinitaly.com), the largest wine event in the world. The 47th edition of Vinitaly counted some 148,000 visitors (+6%), of which 53.000 were international attendees (+10%) visiting from 120 countries. On 95.000 square meters, 4.200 exhibitors welcomed… trade professional, media and producers alike. The next installment of the fair with take place on 6th-9th April 2014. The premier event to Vinitaly, OperaWine (http://www.OperaWine.it) “Finest Italian Wines: 100 Great Producers” will unite international wine professionals on April 5th 2014 in the heart of Verona. Veronafiere also created Vinitaly International http://www.vinitalytour.com in 1998 to develop a global platform for the promotion of companies in the Italian wine and food sectors.

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Gianni Eliani & Francesca de'Stefani

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