What big retailers should know about Chinese travellers

Chinese tourists’ buying power abroad is the strongest in the world, surpassing even the biggest economy in the world, the United States. It’s predicted that Chinese spending will reach $255.4 billion by 2025, which is a massive increase of 86% from 2015.

Destinations

Chinese tourists favor Asian countries as they are located closer geographically to mainland China which reduces the travel time and cost. Short-distance trips do not require a long holiday, and many Chinese have limited paid vacation days. Another factor is the visa application process.

Top 10 destinations for Chinese tourists in 2016:

  1. Thailand
  2. Singapore
  3. South Korea
  4. Japan
  5. Malaysia
  6. The United States
  7. Australia
  8. Vietnam
  9. Canada
  10. Philippines

Europe welcomes about 10 million Chinese tourists each year. They usually come because of Europe’s rich culture and history, beautiful sceneries, unpolluted air, and shopping.

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Traveling style

Many Chinese still prefer traveling in groups organized by a travel agency. The agencies plan the whole trip with activities, flight tickets, and accommodation, and help with the visa process. The main reasons for this is language barriers and the fact that tourists’ lack of experience.

However, independent travels are getting more and more popular, especially for the millennials who don’t like restricting themselves to an organized program and prefer to plan activities whenever it suits them.

Chinese food 

The Chinese love their cuisine - you might have noticed that many hotels are offering Chinese breakfast such as dumplings, congee or fried noodles/rice. Many Chinese prefer Chinese food when traveling abroad. This doesn't mean that they don't try local cuisine at their destination, just that they like to combine it with Chinese cuisine.   

Shopping

According to the Ministry of Commerce, Chinese tourists spent $183 billion on shopping abroad in 2015. Goods abroad are seen as high-quality and safe. Mainland China has experienced many food scandals. Luxury goods are preferable to buy abroad due to high luxury tax policy in their home country.

Gifting is a big part of the Chinese culture, and, as a result, many Chinese tourists may travel in economy class and look for good deals for a hotel just to be able to spend more on gifts and experiences.

Popular foreign goods

Health supplements and baby goods: Due to food safety concerns in China, Japan, and Australia are popular destinations for purchasing baby goods, such as milk powder and infant care products. Norway is also highly attractive for their choice of fish oil and vitamins. 

Beauty products: The South-Korean cosmetics market has a well-known reputation, which attracts many Chinese tourists. South-Korean cuisine, k-pop, fashion, and tv series are also very popular.

Luxury goods: Mainland China operates with a so-called luxury tax, which is a combination of import duties, VAT and consumption tax. Luxury goods in China can cost as much as 80% more than in Europe, according to NYTimes (2016).

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Status symbol  

Chinese travellers have their tablets, phone, and cameras at hand for a reason - to document every moment during their vacation. Travelling is a privilege, and it's important to share experiences with family and friends back home.     

It’s important to “show off” a bit, and there is no better place to do that than on moments in WeChat (WeChat is a Chinese messaging app with 889 million users). Moments is used to share pictures/videos with friends and family (similar to Instagram and Facebook’s news feed).  

Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are powerful in China as well as influencers. This form of marketing creates a special bond with the consumer which again creates trust. Travel destination, shopping advice, and restaurant recommendations are therefore easily influenced through WeChat moments.  

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