Wine Glasses Go Luxe for China’s Wealthy

on February 17 2011 | in Lifestyle | by | with No Comments


Where there’s growth in sales of high-end wine, there’s growth for high-end wine glassware. And the granddaddy in the business of fine glassware is Austria-based Riedel. The 250-year-old company, armed with a formidable reputation in creating and selling wine glassware with distinction, is set to spread its wings in China.

With China’s status conscious, after all, fine wine like furs, cars, and Gucci handbags, is part of one’s luxury arsenal. The Chinese wine market has boomed in recent years and shows little sign of slowing down.

China is expected to be the world’s seventh largest wine consumer by 2013. “Asia, particularly China – including Hong Kong- and India, have become key growth markets for the world’s wine and spirits industry,” according to Robert Beynat, chief executive of Vinexpo Asia-Pacific.

Riedel sees 2011 as a perfect time to expand aggressively in China. The company plans to increase the number of stores it has in China from eight to 15 by the end of this year, and then to expand at a rate of 30 stores a year. The end game is to exceed 120 Riedel franchises in China’s 25 largest cities in four years’ time.

But, like fine wine, fine wine glassware is not inexpensive.

Reidel’s price range, according to three price tiers, exclusive, moderate, and competitive, is from ten dollars US to 100 dollars US per glass. That range will be 15 percent to 20 percent higher in China because of distribution costs.

Will China’s wealthy pay $100 for an empty glass?

Riedel Glas Austria chief executive Georg Riedel is not worried about price. Branding is a matter of education plus desire. Riedel is ready with the education part. The company’s information strategy will take the form of wine tastings. The message will be how the glass that holds the wine, influencing flavor, is crucial to the wine experience.

Currently, Reidel’s sales of wine glasses in China are largely for red-wine glasses. Reidel hopes to share another secret with customers —  how “one size does not fit all types of wine.”

There’s another reason why Riedel is so confident that expansion is the way to go. “It sounds strange, but the truth is, there’s still very little interest from competitors.”

photo credit: riedel

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