Today we interview the managing director of the French Cellar, a top start-up in Singapour. Jin Wang will explain in this interview the challenges and opportunities of selling wine in China.
My name is Jin Wang, I am from the southern part of China. Trained and working in Australia and Singapore, I have been a wine sommelier and businessman for six years starting from my early life in Barossa Valley, Australia. This year (2015), I and my Singaporean and French partners have brought our wine business to Shanghai and created its Chinese branch – The French Cellar China (法兰酒窖). I myself am currently being the Managing Director of the concept and in charge of its daily operation.
2- What is the French Cellar
A wine brand focusing on artisanal organic French wines that are selected exclusively by the world-class 3-star Michelin sommelier, Nicolas Rebut. The brand was founded in Singapore in 2013 and expanded to Hong Kong in 2014. The monthly subscription is the service we are providing, allowing customers to experience various authentic wines picked directly from the vineyards in France by Mr. Nicolas Rebut. We also offer a range of labels for retailing and gifting.
3- What is this ‘Monthly Subscription’ concept?
Customers could subscribe online (thefrenchcellar.cn) for our wines by month just like subscribing to magazines. By doing this, each month they will receive two bottles of different wines selected from France and posted to their door. The formal chief sommelier of Le Meurice (3-star Michelin) and Louis XV (3-star Michelin), Mr. Nicolas Rebut is the person tasting and selecting the wines every month from a big range of great vineyards throughout the whole of France.
4- Why do Asian people like subscription
We have seen great results in Singapore where many locals are subscribing to us. However, the monthly subscription model for wine is not new. In many major wine markets including France, America, and UK, customers are paying fixed fees every month to receive good bottles selected by professionals or experts in the wine industry.
We have brought this concept to Asia as we believe the values it falls into:
- Authenticity: the wines are selected directly from the producers’ vineyards and posted through immediate channels to reach the customers;
- Quality: a world-class standard is provided when the bottles are exclusively selected by well-recognized experts; the monthly selections are different from each other and can hardly satisfy every person’s palate even if it is picked by the top wine celebrities; however, what the concept is really valued for is it offers a chance for the public to understand and experience wines that are all at a similar high-standard level of quality;
- Convenience: it is not to be worried anymore that the cellar is going empty, the cellar will be refilled with various great wines every month posted right to your home; it is not to be worried anymore about selecting a decent bottle at a great price, the most praised wines will be found out from the jungles by those experts for you;
- Experience: every bottle posted every month is different from the others in terms of vintage, producer, terroir, etc. Customers, therefore, are able to enjoy the great works throughout the whole of France at home.
5- What’s the uniqueness of the Chinese wine market?
Many local customers buy wines not because they want to enjoy the wines but because they need the wines; there are definitely reasons behind this the result is price, labels, and marketing become far more important than the quality and sincerity of the wine itself when they are considered as goods to purchase; therefore, the market is more commercial but less sincere, easier to find very cheap or very expensive but hardly moderate decent selections.
6- Do you think wine consumption will increase in China?
Many ex-pats tell us how difficult it is to find good French Wine in China (here you have a Funny Facebook group). The market is growing mature. There will be more individuals buying wines for their own consumption and interest. Though I am not able to tell whether the market value will increase by another 30%, I do believe that it is a great time for distributors to focus more on educating the public, providing more interesting and sincere products, and interacting more with the individual consumers because people here are getting more sophisticated and will be requiring better services and products than any time before.
7- Do you believe that Chinese consumers will like to buy Wine online?
I do. We have big platforms like yesmywine.com, JD.com, and TMALL.com selling huge numbers of bottles every day in this country. However, as mentioned before while most of the customers used to never really care that much about the enjoyment of the wines when they are purchasing them, they are getting more sophisticated nowadays and adore more the professional platforms where the industrial experts’ knowledge and experience are involved to take care of the selection as well as assist the purchase. A simple business-to-customer selling model will be out of time and replaced by ways that are more educative, interactive, and customer-experience oriented.
8- What are the things Chinese consumers need to buy Wine online?
It used to be experience, knowledge, and luck; now it could be trust, love, fun, and surprise with The French Cellar China 🙂
9- Do you plan to do a lot of events in China, if yes, why will you do that?
It takes time to convince people to try a new concept right away without allowing them to understand and experience it. We are confident with our wines selected by Mr. Nicolas, and also believe in the values the concept creates, what we need now is to bring it to the public and have people understand and experience it. Off-line events are a great way to meet wine lovers, interact and share our beliefs with them.
For example an event for Expat in Shanghai. contact information here.
Thank you very much for these answers.
If you have questions, feel free to comment Jin will answer you. 😉
More information about the French Cellar