Lancaster Brewery is a British company producing and selling a variety of beer products such as ales and ciders, located in the North West of England.
The company entered the Chinese market in July 2016, successfully reaching the country and clearing the customs in less than a month. It targets Guangdong province to start with but plans to expand business in other first-tier Chinese cities with a focus on Shanghai in the near future.
Lancaster Brewery is currently exporting to China with the assistance of a local Chinese business partner who is handling the process of customs clearance and relabelling in bonded warehouses. The company has also planned to send an employee to Guangzhou for a period of six months to represent the brand in the market, provide support to the partner and develop a network of distribution channels.
During their market research process, Lancaster Brewery came across the EU SME Centre’s content online, including the webinar on Alcoholic Drinks Market in China and publications on the Food & Beverage Market in China and Ways to Enter the Chinese Market. The information helped the company better understand the technicalities of exporting products to China and to clarify the requirements for labelling, customs procedures, and intellectual property protection in China.
Lancaster Brewery aims to position its brand in a niche market in China to attract affluent consumers, including expatriates and Chinese who have previously worked or studied abroad and therefore have developed a taste and preference for foreign food products and brands.
As advice for other European businesses interested in the Chinese market, Giulia emphasised on the role of establishing trusted relationships with Chinese business partners, doing market research and willingness to look for help.
“Do your research and look for help. Sometimes SMEs lack the specific knowledge and skills required for such a challenging process, but help is available out there to overcome these obstacles and barriers”, said Giulia.