The oft-talked-about BRIC countries hold great potential for growth in many industries, but the nature of these markets make it difficult to enter and work with if not prepared.

Each market has its own intricacies of legislation, tax and consumption trends so each country needs to be approached separately. The BRIC countries were grouped together as some of the fastest-growing and largest world economies, but the market characteristics can be very different especially when it comes to wine.

China has the largest wine market and is also the fastest-growing in volume and percentage terms. China became a top five wine-consuming nation in 2011, overtaking the UK. Although China shows great promise the market holds risks and can be tough to enter. According to the IWSR’s China Wine Market Report 2012, the market generates a lot of hype and remains a complex market to navigate. The ‘invisible’ market is the underlying cause of most of the excitement over the imported wine market in China, but it is difficult to penetrate. The ‘invisible’ market consists of importers with customers who, due to strong relationships and/or ‘personal incentives’ will buy anything they are told to buy by the importer. More wholesalers are entering the market and capitalizing on the buzz, but many are inexperienced.

Russia similarly holds promise for wine exporters. Imported wines are growing faster than local product and look set to overtake within the next five years. Finding the right partners and wading through all the red tape to get on the market can be a tough process, but worth the effort if you get it right. The Russian government also has a tendency to introduce new legislation without proper preparation, causing disruption to the market.

Brazil and India

The imported wine market in Brazil has generated significant interest and investment on the part of exporters in recent years and as such the market has grown and developed at an impressive pace. According to the IWSR’s Brazil Wine Market Report 2012, the imported market is dominated by Chilean and Argentinian wines that together command a 60 percent share of the market; they hold a significant price advantage over competitors owing to free trade agreements with Brazil. Given the vastly inflated prices domestically, duty free and border sales are an increasingly important aspect of the imported wine market and will continue to play an important role as restrictions and taxes increase.

India has the least-developed wine market of all the BRIC countries with an annual consumption per capita of less than a small glass of wine, but the market is growing.  There is a trend among the young and affluent to take on Western trends, but wine does not always suit Indian cuisine and many consumers seek a certain ‘kick’ to their alcoholic drinks.

The differing taxes and regulations from state to state mean that India needs to be treated as a 28-country market, not as a federation. Taxes are unusually high and the insufficient infrastructure hinders wine storage and distribution.

In all the BRIC countries local wines dominate the markets and price is often the barrier to stronger growth of imported wines. Imported wines have the largest market share in Russia than in the other BRIC countries, where local wines hold more than 75 percent of each market.

The IWSR has compiled four reports on the still light wine markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China detailing the nature of the markets, the industry structure and growth trends. The reports also include an analysis of retail pricing, information on legal aspects of the market and taxation. The reports seek to analyze real levels of consumption by country of origin, by price point and by color, and also set out the factors that anyone seriously looking at the market needs to understand.