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Wine Consumers in Hong Kong

12 April 2013 08:51

Hi! This is Gaman, female, I was born in HK, possibly I'm the first person in the world, who is a member of Sommelier Association with a degree of MBA. With my passion in wine, I realize that it's worth investigation "The factors affect HK people's wine buying patterns after the abolishment of import tax in 2008" as my master degree dissertation because there were very few studies (probably none) on the wine consumers' behaviour and consumers' decision-making process available carried out by any institutes.  Although HK is the Wine Capital in the world, most of the wine merchants have no marketing plans, and no knowledge of what their consumers really want.

The research report was completed in 2012.  It received very nice compliment from graduate school in England and some wine merchants in HK wanted to buy the result data from me then sell to the vineyards at oversea market.  I decided to take the plunge, knocked the door of Trade Developed Council, give them my data so people from different parts of the world can access the information via their website for free.  If you are interested, please click on to check it out.

Luckily enough, I was invited by "Think Asia Think Hong Kong Event" to use their blog post the topic of wine article again.  Here we're, my friends! Hopefully, my information enable you to understand more about HK wine market.....The topic of this article is Reference Groups.

Wine drinkers were unable to determine the quality of wine prior to the purchase, they needed indicators to assist them in making their purchasing decision.  Grape variety, brand name and price were the vital information for wine consumers to learn about the product wine before purchasing it.  When product information was lacking or confusing, experts and novices had to rely on the “country of origin” to make a purchasing decision.  Price was one of the most important considerations affecting purchasing behavior. It showed consumers’ purchasing knowledge, for example whether it can be bought at a cheaper price at certain times or where could the product be bought. There were some evidences proving that even when information was available on the package, it was not guaranteed that consumers would read it.  Consumers felt dissatisfied, less happy, uneasy and demotivated if there had a high number of alternatives to choose than if they only had to choose from lesser options argued that the major influences on wine purchasing were: perceived risks; product cues, for example brand, label and price, product experience and knowledge; and the product-use situation.  The product-use situation was the most critical element in the purchasing process. 

Buying wine for consumption with a meal in a restaurant was more stressful than purchasing wine in a retail store. Consumers’ self confidence played a main role in making wine purchasing decisions because consumers were intimidated and often doubted their ability to choose the right wine for a particular occasion and were concerned about social rejection if a wrong type of wine was chosen.

Wine purchase involved functional risks which included social risks, financial risks, and physical risks. Social risks involved avoiding embarrassment in front of business associates and friends; financial risks involved the cost of the wine and physical risks involved negative effects from alcohol consumption.

Amateur wine drinkers relied heavily on descriptions on labels, journalists, wine writers and retail sales personnel.  When consumers had little or no experience with a product or service and did not want to get access to objective information, for instance they believe that advertising was distrustful, are more likely to find the advice from the reference group.

Reference group is any person or a group of people who considerably influences an individual’s behavior.  It had a great deal of positive presence of effect to shape consumer evaluate limited edition products and multiple products in order to affect the luxury goods manufacturers’ product line decisions and create more profits. Consumers related product brands and price to construct or maintain self-concepts. Chinese had a stronger desire to possess luxury products to enhance the concept of face than the American counterparts because they were heavily influenced by reference groups despite of their relatively low income.  It had significantly strong influential power in environmentally friendly or green products, marketers should make best use of the spokespeople who were relatable to buyers.

A survey in United States interviewed 184 Hispanic American and White American adolescent apparel shoppers of age 15 to 18, and found that they relied tremendously on the word-of-mouth developed by their reference groups included friends, boyfriend, girlfriend and female family members.  Apart from the word-of-mouth, both of them tended to receive information from their physical surroundings. White adolescents were most likely to use the internet while Hispanic adolescents tended to focus on the display in department stores.

Family members had the strongest, instantaneous power to convince individual members when making a purchasing decision. Any formality behaviors incorporated into the lifestyle of any social groups would be passed onto the next generation and become an acceptable behavioral norm.  The cosmetics sector in Japan spent over 35 million yen in a year on advertising, female consumers were convinced by experts, friends, family members and information from magazines, rather than convinced by costly celebrities and TV commercials.

In my research, all respondents, in HK, a non-wine growing region, tended to obtain wine information from friends and readings. HK wine consumers used their physical surroundings and word-of-mouth from reference groups to gain more wine information cues.  Both genders considered opinion from friends over family members when making a wine purchasing decision. 

Do you want to learn more ???... please read the below:

Male Wine Drinkers

Interestingly, only 4% of male respondents learnt about wines from TV shows and 3% of them learnt from companions, while 9% and 7% of female respondents learnt about wines from TV shows and companions respectively.  The result indicated that male were less willing to learn about wine from their companions and TV shows as much as females were.  Interestingly, the female respondents prefer watching TV shows about wine to learning from their companions.

Evidenced by 42% of male respondents who answered that they were learning about wine from their friends, the external search, particularly from Reference Group, was the most popular channel being used for males.  Overall, the opinion leader and market maven were the main source for respondents to seek wine information.

Female Wine Drinkers

Moreover, 4% of females replied that they learnt about wine information from unknown channels.  Females tended to collect more product information from different channels and had higher involvement then males.

The above section revealed how people learnt about wine information but both genders act drastically differently when making decision on purchasing wines after obtaining all those information from various channels.  19% of males and only 16% of female exploited their wine knowledge.  Also, 15% of male respondents believed in word-of-mouth, comparing to 18% of female respondents. Thus this result revealed that the female wine drinkers believed in word-of-mouth rather than their wine knowledge, although they spent the same effort to attend wine seminar and read the related materials just like male respondents did.

Moreover, both genders selected their experience from the wine tasting as the second most important resources to purchase wine. The sampling was a good aid for customers to make purchasing decision. The respondents were highly preferred tasting the wine prior purchase it. 

Surprisingly, the analysis showed that both genders equally believed the advice from salesman (13%) rather than the influence by wine tutors (11%).  Salesperson was a good resource for customers to seek information and for marketers to build commercial friendship with their target customers.  Small/informal reference groups were more influential to consumers than large/formal groups

During the interview, one of the male respondents said that he did not believe in in-store advertising or follow the recommendation from write critics because he believed that most of their information was distrustful and they tended to introduce the wines that he could not afford, thus he usually asked for his friends’ opinions when purchasing wines.  He would like to seek advice from the reference group rather than obtaining objective information. 

Content provided by: Ms Gaman Ng - member of Hong Kong Sommelier Association.


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