We all know about the slump in Chinese sales thanks to the government austerity measures. This has had a very real effect on cognac exports to the region, and one that the major houses, such as Hennessy and Remy Martin, are still reeling from. But it appears that there might just be a glimmer of hope on the horizon – in the form of e-commerce.
As the younger, tech-savvy, generation come of age, purchasing cognac (and other spirits, such as whisky) via the Internet is becoming more and more popular. People are learning more about cognac, and spirits in general, thanks to online resources – such as, if we can blow our own trumpet, Cognac Expert! And this new generation of drinkers, which is increasing by hundreds of thousands per year, has a somewhat different outlook on spirits than their parents. Trendy bars, restaurants, KTV and other outlets have introduced them to the world of foreign spirits. So in complete contrast to the older generation, younger consumers want to drink cognac and whisky, instead of the Baijiu that’s dominated the Chinese drinking habits for so many years.
The availability of being able to purchase cognacs and whiskies online is making the drink accessible to people in even the most remote regions of the country.
Another interesting phenomonom that’s been noticed is the difference in how the Chinese are drinking cognac. Maurice Richard Hennessy, 8th generation of the Hennessy family, has seen a change in the habits of how Chinese visitors to Cognac are viewing the drink. He says 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”. They’re also beginning to sip and savor the drink, instead of simply downing it in a single gulp.
Drinkers in China, according to wine expert, Fan Tinglue, used to solely care about the price and vintage of a cognac or whisky. Owning and drinking it was proof of their wealth, and they didn’t really care about appreciating the time, labor and traditions that had gone into creating the drink. But this is changing, with Chinese cognac drinkers beginning to appreciate a good bottle in the same way that those in the Western world do. Tinglue says, “From this aspect, the government’s austerity policies have helped to form a healthy spirits market”.
In addition, it appears that the Chinese are now learning that drinking is also for quieter times, and to be enjoyed within the home. It’s not simply a way of showing off at social events or in public. There are many news reports about the white spirits produced by Chinese manufacturers being adulterated, and this is also pushing consumers towards purchasing brands from abroad.
Of course, it remains to be seen if cognac sales in China will ever rise to the dizzy heights we saw a few years back. But with the target market growing on a daily basis as the younger generation reach drinking age, combined with the growing popularity of e-commerce, it’s certainly looking promising. And, of course, our Cognac Expert Online Shop offers the opportunity for everyone around the world to purchase a massive range of cognacs direct from source. Every bottle is sent fully insured, and consumers buy safe in the knowledge that their bottle/s comes directly from Cognac, France – the only place in the world that our beloved drink can be produced.