Robert Mondavi Winery, one of California’s best-known vintners, is joining Alibaba Group’s Tmall.com online shopping marketplace to reach more consumers in China, the world’s largest wine-consuming market.
Robert Mondavi today announced the opening of its exclusive Tmall flagship store, which will be the California company’s first and only online sales channel in China. The outlet will sell U.S.-bottled labels such as Robert Mondavi Winery, Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, and Twin Oaks by Robert Mondavi. The Robert Mondavi brand is owned by alcoholic beverage maker Constellation Brands, which bills itself on its website as the world’s top premium wine producer.
Philip Kingston, senior vice president of international for Constellation Brands, said the company in recent years has “seen a very encouraging uptake in Chinese tourists visiting our wineries in California, as well as wine sales in China.” Opening a store on Tmall—China’s largest B2C online marketplace and part of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, whose retail shopping sites in the PRC have 367 million annual active buyers—“allows us to sell our wines to Chinese consumers in a marketplace which we believe will build our brand,” Kingston said in a statement. “It also strengthens our presence in China as we expect to benefit from Alibaba’s sophisticated data-analytics capabilities and extensive customer insights.”
The growth and sheer size of China’s consumer class in recent years has made the country a top market for the world’s vintners. China’s wine consumption in 2014 was more than double that of the No. 2 consumer, the U.S., according to data from research firm IWSR.
Tmall said with the opening of the Robert Mondavi Wines flagship store, it was launching a “Tmall Vineyard Direct” program, promising to connect with more wineries around the world to allow them to sell directly to Chinese consumers through Tmall. Gary Clubb, head of Tmall international business development, said “working directly with the winery itself is key to a robust supply chain and allows us to leverage the power of the Alibaba ecosystem to pioneer innovative sales and marketing campaigns to the 367 million buyers on our platforms.”
Tmall has been aggressively recruiting Western retailers and brands selling products in a range of categories, from fast-moving consumer goods to apparel, to build up Alibaba’s cross-border online sales. Last month Alibaba said it had secured deals with Macy’s department stores as well as more than 20 apparel brands, among them Timberland and Marks & Spencer, to provide exclusive online sales outlets on Tmall.com.
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Alibaba also recently said it was strengthening its collaboration with more than 160 international apparel brands—among them Zara, Uniqlo, Gap, Decathlon and Adidas—in areas such as digital marketing, big-data consumer analysis, and O2O sales.