Monday, January 30, 2006

Vintage Economics

China has reported that its trade surplus tripled in 2005 to a record $102 billion. Official figures show that the country exported $762 billion in goods. Total foreign trade totalled $1.4 trillion, making the China the world’s third largest foreign trader. Even these impressive figures are thought to be understated since it is not clear if fortune cookies are included.

China is also working its way up the value ladder by exporting more high quality goods. After winning the Second Boxer Rebellion by taking over the global men’s underwear market, the Chinese have moved up to television sets, air conditioners and automobiles. It seems the Peoples’ Republic is now eyeing a new market. They are advertising for a “wine-maker with 15 years experience, preferably from Bordeaux.” Given China’s $3.15 billion grape-based wine market, a salary of almost $200,000 a year, and about 300 million peasants, the successful candidate will be able to change his name from Louis Lafarge to Louis XIV.

As with any new business venture, product placement and branding is critical. According to the Peoples’ Ministry For Peaceful Trade and Global Domination, two strategies are being considered.

In the first, China will go after the international quality wine market. There is clearly an opportunity to appeal to wine snobs. Arguments over whether the 2003 Chateau 长城 (Great Wall) is superior to the 2005 Clos de 毛泽东 (Mao Tse Dung) will liven up otherwise boring dinner parties. It won’t be long before some insufferable, self appointed expert in Malibu or Notting Hill starts to bang on about ‘a subtle nose with a hint of soy sauce and just the faintest essence of roast pork and overtones of fried rice’. Eventually all of Hupeh Province will be turned into a combination Rhone Valley and Sonoma County. Tourists will be able to see happy political prisoners jumping up and down in vats of grapes under the watchful eyes of supervisors wearing berets, striped t-shirts and carrying machine pistols.

The other strategy is to go after the overseas mass market. The demand for inexpensive wine is exploding, particularly in the US. Consumers are attracted to the convenience of buying wine in a box, the low cost of getting absolutely comatose, and the effectiveness of cheap wine in cleaning dead insects off the car windshield. Distribution is the key to this strategy. Costco, Sam’s Club and the other retailers that specialize in volume sales are the answer. The warehouse concept can handle 55 gallon drums. Employment opportunities at Wal-mart will surge for 73 year-old retirees with pacemakers who are not interested in health benefits and have an intense desire to become wine stewards. They can settle friendly disputes about whether 名 星期二 (Tuesday) or 名 星期五 (Friday) is a better year.

Regardless of which strategy the Chinese adopt, it is clear that they have a powerful competitive advantage in going after the international wine market. Exhaustive testing by a dedicated panel of Homo Insapiens readers has revealed the true appeal of Chinese wine. Two hours later, you’re sober again!


Blogger birdwoman said...

You've got every cliche buried in there somewhere. I have nothing to build off of.

But of course, even if the wine is better, cheaper, and guaranteed to cure hangovers, I'll have none of it. Call it sour grapes, if you will.

Now, I'll stop whining.


9:50 AM  
Blogger Ken Grandlund said... more Rice Wine?

1:28 PM  
Blogger Abby Taylor said...

I'm glad to see you giving more press to wine in a box, my personal favorite since graduate school.

7:47 PM  
Blogger siren said...

Another great post :)

8:53 PM  
Blogger Ananke said...

How can anyone turn their nose up at wine in a box? Sam's Club will love it. They sell all kinds of crap, er, I mean merchandise from China anyway. ;-)

11:50 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

I didn't know wine gets dead insects off your windshield. Thanks for the tip.

5:27 PM  
Blogger iwasfixin2 said...

this is classic HI. the really, really good stuff. intelligent, funny and passionately creative. plus, it passed the "blow milk thru my nose onto the computer screen" test.

9:36 PM  

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