Consorzio Vino Chianti: we want to be in China, maintaining and increasing our presence

May, 2020

“China is the most interesting country for the development of our appellation” Giovanni Busi, president of Consorzio Vino Chianti.

Due to the outbreak, the promotion activities of Consorzio Vino Chianti in most markets have been suspended. Recently, Wine to Asia had the pleasure to speak with the President of Chianti Consortium, Giovanni Busi, about the current state of the industry and the marketing plan for China.

△ Giovanni Busi, president of Consorzio Vino Chianti

Q1 As Italy is one of the countries hardest hit by Covid-19, how are you now?

The number of cases of coronavirus continues to fall and certain sectors are reopening. Businesses started up again on the 4th of May, although the farming industry never really stopped, being classed as an essential service. The markets are getting back to normal, and our customers are gradually starting to reopen.

Q2 How is Covid-19 affecting the wine industry after a nationwide lockdown?

This is perhaps the worst thing because we don’t know exactly how many wine stores and restaurants will be reopening, if and when this happens. It’s all a bit vague and, right now, the only sector that is working is the supermarkets.

For the rest, we will just have to wait and see. People are extremely worried because the conditions regulating the reopening of restaurants, bars and wine stores are very strict. I don’t know if everyone will be able to get back to work.

Q3 What defence strategies/marketing strategies do you think Italian wine producers and importers should take to ensure their market stability in China during this outbreak?

Marketing is, without doubt, of the utmost importance during this phase. We need to ramp up our presence in China, even if that is just at virtual level. The individual wineries need to stay in touch with importers, customers and restaurant owners on-line, showing them their cellars, tasting the same wines “together” or at least at the same time, and talking about them.

This requires a form of contact which, while not physical, allows the exchange of opinions on the products and helps keep the interest of our customers in our wines very much alive.

Q4 Has Consorzio Vino Chianti launched its promotion plan this year in China? What will be the focus of this year?

We had made a huge investment in China for 2020, accounting for almost 60% of our budget. Covid-19 has ruined all our plans, but we still intend to make as much progress as possible with China. We see the country as one of the most important targets for the development of the appellation and we want to be there, maintaining and increasing our presence.

Q5 How do you think the cancellation of exhibitions/roadshows will affect the wine industry at present? What do you think of the online exhibition?

I don’t think the cancellation of exhibitions in China is a problem because it hasn’t affected us alone. It affects the whole world so none of our competitors has an advantage. None of us can take part because we are all locked down. On-line exhibitions are currently a solution to be taken into consideration because they allow interaction with customers and importers. They offer a valid alternative for now, but this won’t continue into the future because human contact is an essential element in the world of wine.

The world today is full of good wines, so what makes the difference is the people behind them, the magical touch that each winery can transmit. China is the most interesting country for the development of our appellation: we have been making huge investments for the past eight years and are starting to reap the rewards.