Sales boom as drinking culture gradually changes
A large liquor cabinet was the first thing that came to mind when Lu Xin considered decorating a new apartment with his wife.
"We are definitely not alcoholics," said Lu, 32, who is from Beijing and works in the financial industry. "But it is relaxing to take a sip of wine or whiskey before going to bed at times, and my wife appreciates various kinds of cocktails and fruit wines."
A recent report in medical journal The Lancet said alcohol consumption in China is on the rise.
In 2017, men on average drank more than 11 liters of alcohol, mostly spirits and beer, while women drank three liters. On average, Chinese adults drank more than seven liters of alcohol, up by nearly 70 percent from 1990.
The report added that alcohol consumption globally has risen significantly in the past 1000 years, largely due to increased sales in China and India.
The report's lead author, Jakob Manthey, a researcher at the Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy in Dresden, Germany, told The Guardian that before 1990, most alcohol was consumed in high-income countries. But this pattern has changed substantially, with consumption being greatly reduced across Europe but rising significantly in several middle-income countries such as China, India and Vietnam.
As China's drinking culture has changed, Chinese consumers in general are consuming more alcohol, said Snow Chen, senior cultural strategy consultant at market research company Kantar.
"In the past, drinking in China was mostly associated with social occasions or business dinners," she said. "Today, with economic development, the drinking culture and lifestyle in the West has gradually been brought to China. Chinese are now more likely to connect drinking with personal occasions and use alcohol to relax, have fun or to indulge themselves."
Moreover, Chinese consumers now have different requirements for various types of alcohol. They are becoming "more professional" and have a better understanding of different drinks, she said.
"For example, more consumers have begun to sample different types of beer, or know how to appreciate and evaluate beer, not just merely drink it as a companion to food, she said.