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Captivating Chinese Shoppers: Key Insights and Strategies for Thriving in the Travel Retail Industry

Chinese travellers have a significant impact on the travel retail industry, and understanding their approach to shopping is crucial for businesses. As the post-COVID era brings changes in consumer expectations and preferences, travel retailers need to adapt their strategies to meet the needs of Chinese shoppers. In this article, we will explore the key findings and recommendations from Dragon Trail’s report for successfully engaging with Chinese travellers in the realm of duty-free shopping in 2023.

Key Findings:

#1 Chinese shopper prioritize planning:

Chinese travellers are known for their meticulous planning, and this behaviour has become even more prominent in the post-pandemic period. According to m1nd-set insights, 95% of Chinese duty-free buyers plan their purchases in-store. Brands can take advantage of this trend by reaching out to consumers in advance through convenient, mobile platforms. Utilizing digital platforms like WeChat mini-programs can help retailers engage with customers, promote products, and assist with pre-travel planning. By establishing a digital presence, brands can also retarget users for future trips or purchases.

#2 In-person service remains vital:

Despite their thorough planning, Chinese travellers still value in-person interactions and assistance at duty-free shops. In fact, 81% of Chinese shoppers interact with duty-free sales staff, and 87% are influenced by staff recommendations, as highlighted by m1nd-set's Head of Business Development, Anna Marchesini. Chinese-speaking assistants can significantly enhance the shopping experience, even for Chinese expats fluent in the local language. Shop floor staff play a pivotal role in facilitating changes to shoppers' plans if the desired product is unavailable, emphasizing the importance of personalized service.

#3 Hainan's impact on global travel retail:

Hainan's duty-free shops are disrupting the global travel retail landscape. Chinese travellers in Frankfurt, for instance, are increasingly comparing prices using the Hainan Duty-Free WeChat mini-program and making purchasing decisions based on these comparisons. Beyond price, the entire customer experience in Hainan is influencing Chinese travellers' expectations. Travel retailers worldwide must stay updated on the developments in Hainan to ensure they can deliver a comparable shopping experience that meets evolving consumer demands.

#4 High expectations from Chinese travellers:

Chinese travellers have high expectations when it comes to duty-free shopping. They seek convenience, respect, and a seamless experience. Features like accepting popular mobile payment methods, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, have transitioned from being added bonuses to becoming requirements. Chinese-language signage in airports is also expected, reflecting the increasing prominence of Chinese brands and the need for retailers to capture the attention of the Chinese market.

#5 Focus on China's Gen-Z:

China's Generation Z (Gen-Z) is a crucial demographic for travel retailers to engage with. In Q1 2023, seven out of 10 Chinese international travellers were under the age of 34. China's Gen-Z values self-expression, and social and environmental responsibility, and exhibits strong national pride. They are more inclined to choose Chinese brands, particularly in the beauty industry (C-beauty products). Foreign brands must work diligently to understand and respect the Chinese market, adopting an omnichannel, localized approach to digital marketing to capture the attention of younger shoppers. Emphasizing social and environmental initiatives, such as supply chain transparency, fair trade labelling, charitable donations, and community outreach, can help foreign brands establish themselves as responsible and trustworthy options for Gen-Z consumers.

Chinese travellers have a significant impact on the travel retail industry, and their expectations and preferences are evolving. To succeed in engaging with Chinese shoppers in the duty-free sector in 2023, retailers must prioritize planning, offer in-person assistance, keep abreast of developments in Hainan, meet high expectations, and focus on China's Gen-Z. By adapting strategies to align with these key findings, travel retailers can effectively cater to Chinese travellers, enhance their shopping experience, and capture their attention in a competitive market. Understanding the nuances of Chinese consumer behaviour and preferences will be instrumental in building successful relationships with this influential demographic. By embracing digital platforms, providing personalized in-store service, staying updated on industry trends, meeting high expectations, and appealing to China's Gen-Z, travel retailers can position themselves for success in the ever-evolving landscape of Chinese travel retail.

Contact us if you would like to understand how to reach out to Chinese travellers efficiently for your brand.

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