January 23 2024  |  Industry News

m1nd-set Chinese traveler research shows diverging shopping behavioral trends by destination in 2024

By Hibah Noor

A syndicated research program has been published by Swiss research agency m1nd-set to determine what to expect in 2024 from Chinese travelers as they travel internationally, both within and outside Asia, as well as domestically to Hainan.

The research, which has been subscribed to by both leading duty free retailers and major brands from a number of core travel retail categories, aims to demonstrate detailed behaviour across a wide range of criteria, with a breakdown by travel destination.

Based on recent interviews with 3000 Chinese travelers, the data focuses on the following components: socio-demographics of this year, outbound travelers from China, preferred destinations, trip characteristics and purpose, trip type, Chinese New Year travel plans, category planning, expectations about the upcoming duty free shopping experience. Plus, trip research and shopping research behavior was also considered.

As Dr. Peter Mohn, Owner and CEO at m1nd-set explained, the timing of the research publication coincides with what is expected to be the year of the return of Chinese travelers en masse. “The outlook and perspectives for the Chinese outbound travel market in 2024 are certainly looking positive. Thanks to a number of market conditions and converging external factors, both for travel from and to China. The easing of visa restrictions for international Chinese travellers and foreign visitors to China is supporting growth in both inbound and outbound tourism. Flight capacity increases will also bolster the forecasted robust growth in outbound travel from China this year. This is leading to lower flight prices compared to 2023, which is further positive news. The priority which Chinese consumers now place on travel in their consumer choices is yet another driving force behind the recovery that is now expected in 2024," he said.

According to m1nd-set, the findings from the research reveal that shopper behavior varies quite considerably across the various destination markets. The consolidated data for both intra-Asia and beyond shows that beauty purchases will dominate the Chinese shopping basket on their trips in 2024, with skincare leading the category rankings. 45% of outbound Chinese travelers say they will purchase a skincare product and 38% are planning to purchase perfumes on their next visit to duty free shops. Accessories is the third highest ranking category on the shopping list for outbound travelers from China in 2024, with 37% planning to purchase the category. However, the rankings differ somewhat when comparing shopping behaviour across Asian and non-Asian destinations.

Another aspect of shopper behavior where differences between the various outbound markets are highlighted in the research is on average spend. Chinese travelers heading to destinations outside Asia are planning to spend more than those traveling to Asian destinations in 2024. According to the research, Chinese travelers will spend more than US$3000 when traveling outside Asia while those traveling within Asia will spend US$2500. The research details how this intent to spend will be split across the various categories, sub-categories and in some cases by brand even.

The Chinese traveler research also unveils how Chinese shoppers’ expectations have evolved in recent years with regards to their duty free shopping experience. More than half (56%) of Chinese travelers confirmed that their expectations have changed. Around two-thirds said they expect to see a greater variety of products and brands in the shops, while half said they hope to see more promotions in store. Four out of ten Chinese travelers are expecting more entertainment within the shops, and a similar percentage is expecting to see greater use of technology inside the store to engage and entertain them while shopping.

2024 shopping planning is another important aspect covered in the m1nd-set research, revealing that 85% of Chinese shoppers (all destinations combined) are planning ahead and making a shopping list prior to traveling abroad. Around one quarter know precisely which products they wish to purchase, while around six out of ten Chinese travelers have some idea of what they will purchase.

Retailers stocking limited-editions will attract the largest crowds. “More than eight out of ten Chinese shoppers said they wish to purchase a limited edition, Mohn said. “Luxury and premium brands as well as novelties will also be high on the shopping list in 2024. Chinese travellers will be looking to purchase trendy, up-and-coming brands as well as new brands they have never discovered before” Mohn added. “To assist brands and retailers in targeting Chinese travellers across the relevant media and travel platforms the research also details the most visited and used services for researching information about the travel and shopping information. It is interesting to see how the use of these travel apps and social media services evolves and how Chinese shoppers do their research on shopping differently, depending on where they are travelling to.”

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