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Tracking the ubershoppers Researcher i2i Group reveals the most important mega trends among Chinese global travelers that will shape the shopping environment this year

Alipay, the financial payment system of online sales giant Alibaba, and WeChat Wallet, part of Tencent (China’s largest company by market capitalization), own this world of mobile payments


hina-based research specialist i2i Group has made a number of predictions for the coming year about the world of luxury shopping and spending by Chinese global travelers. The company has drawn on its pool of nearly 20 million people. More than nine million Chinese global travelers and shoppers read its Galerié magazines, in addition to five million focused on just shopping and another five million WeChat readers. Here, the firm unveils the mega trends and most important considerations for luxury brands and retailers in the coming year who are focused on Chinese global travelers and shoppers.

The rise of frequent independent travelers (FITs)

For years, luxury brands and retailers have been focused on the busloads of Chinese tour groups traveling the globe and trying to get them to spend a few minutes in their stores or boutiques. After all, groups made up the vast majority of Chinese travelers and shoppers. In 2016 this trend shifted substantially, with premier shopping des-

tinations such as New York, Paris, Los Angeles, London, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul seeing the majority of their arrivals as independent travelers, in some cases as much as 60%. Based on i2i group’s reader and WeChat fan research, the independent traveler and shopper stays longer, shops more and spends more by as much as 100% compared to the typical group traveler. FIT shoppers buy higher end products and spend over US$6,800 per person per trip and travel as much as three to four times each year around the world. This translates into approximately US$40 billion of luxury buying. Brands and retailers who focus on this segment will find that their average sale increases in value while extending brand loyalty to a frequent global shopper as compared to the once-in-a-lifetime group traveler. “There is little doubt that this will be your primary Chinese shopper for years to come. While global group travel was stagnant in 2016, FIT travelers increased by as much as 30% to some destinations,” says Alexander Glos, CEO, i2i Group.

Uber-global Chinese travelers and shoppers

Much has been written in the past year about the slowdown in the Chinese economy and how it will impact global Chinese shopping. The country’s 7% growth rate is, by Chinese standards, slower than before. But Glos believes these Chinese macro numbers do not do justice to the micro influences that are thrusting the highend Chinese global luxury shopper to be the world’s number one international customer. Long haul global Chinese travel shoppers in 2016 reached 30 million travelers, out of the 140 million total international Chinese travelers. Long haul means from China to Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Of this group, approximately 20% are uber-shoppers, which i2i defines as spending more than US$25,000 or equivalent per person per trip exclusively on shopping. These shoppers take only 6 million annual trips and count about 4.5 million travelers – just a quarter of 1% of the population. In its research, i2i focuses on how these  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  63

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