VinExpo in Hong Kong

Competition in the wine world, as with every industry, is fierce. With an estimated 2,000 Provence Rosé labels vying for a limited number of listings with retailers and distributors, its critical to chose the right strategy and to execute it faithfully. Most producers focus on selling their limited production locally at the cellar door and local restaurants and hotels. But we have chosen a different route to market, that of focusing on building a strong export business for Mirabeau.

Competition in the export markets is still strong with hundreds of brands aiming of the same few customers and with it comes price pressure and tight margins. At the same time there is no cutting of corners on quality, for us anyway.

Waitrose in the UK were our first ever customer and they gave us a huge break, for which I will always be grateful (thanks Nick Room) but in order for Mirabeau to be commercially successful we need to find many more customers like Waitrose. And as we’ve given Waitrose exclusivity for Mirabeau amongst national retailers in the UK, we need to seek other markets. But how do we decide which markets are best for us and how do we find the best customers within those markets?

This is the challenge for every new brand and often the best answer is to attend trade shows, of which there are many. But choosing the best shows in our target markets is not always straight forward as there are countless shows going on every month of the year. But of the significant trade shows there are usually around a dozen a year to chose from, each one claiming to have the best buyers attending. But attending these events is costly, usually between €5,000-€10,000 to rent the stand space and then you have to build a stand and pay for flights and hotels for everyone attending the shows.

In Europe the key shows (Expos) are Prowein in Dusseldorf, Vinexpo in Bordeaux, Vinisud in Montpelier and Vinitaly in Verona. But this year I was persuaded to visit one of the newer Asian trade fairs, Vinexpo in Hong Kong.

Vinexpo Hong Kong is a three-day exclusively trade exhibition with 1,300 exhibitors representing wine and spirit brands from 33 countries.

With a rebound of China, the world’s fifth largest wine consuming market, as well as a dynamic overall Asia-Pacific presence, both exhibitors and buyers seemed to be in a buoyant mood.

Demonstrating its firmly-established position as the ‘wine hub of Asia-Pacific’, Hong Kong holds second place in terms of visitor representation. Taiwan accounted for the third-largest number of trade visitors from Asia, followed by South Korea, Japan and Singapore. South-East Asia’s dynamic market was hot on their heels, with increasing representation from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Australia holds the seventh rank, even before Vietnam.

A topical headline event organised by Vinexpo, included a China Market Conference, which saw a panel of leading wine experts across a range of business categories presenting an insightful look at the wine market in China, discussing e-Commerce in the region as well as the importance of embracing millennials and further brand building in China.

I met with buyers from Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and, oddly enough, Brazil.

Hong Kong Vinexpo 2016 was well worth the visit. We made some good business and I also caught up with several friends who live in Hong Kong (and who kindly provided me with accommodation!).

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