The Chinese consumers are not being wooed just in China and Hong Kong by the luxury goods brands but they are being closely followed even in America which they are visiting in increasing numbers every year. The reasons are simple to understand and make great economic sense. The primary reason is that the phenomenal economic growth over the years in their country has made very large number of Chinese citizens very affluent. They now have substantial disposable income and they like to splurge it on luxury goods and services. And more importantly they are hooked on luxury brands and have become very conscious about labels as they have grown into status symbols. Culturally, they like buying gifts for their friends and family. The luxury retailers in both Europe and America are welcoming Chinese tourists as they are travelling in increasingly large numbers and they bring with them a “spend, spend, spend” mentality that’s been a huge boon to retailers.
Like every other statistics related to China and the Chinese economy, the numbers are mindboggling. There are several agencies who are continually studying the flow of tourists from China and their behavior. Crain’s has released its report on the subject recently and it reaffirms the growing trend which is quite visible, in any case. But the report gives hard numbers. The visitors from China and Hong Kong coming into New York City added up to a substantial 306,000 last year. To get the perspective right one must consider the fact that only 59,000 visitors came from China to New York City in 2002. The other numbers are even more interesting as the report reveals that the average age of the Chinese tourist in New York is 38 years and the typical Chinese tourist stays an average of 11.3 nights in the city, and spends some $3,297 per visit which works out to an expenditure of about $292 per day. These numbers have been corroborated by the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau. The increasing number of the Chinese tourist to America is helping the American economy which is faltering in a sluggish and uncertain environment. Last year, visitors from China contributed $877 million to the New York City’s economy alone.
The marketers in America have woken up to this boom and the growing number of the visitors. This summer season, number of businesses on Madison Avenue joined forces to offer coupons to Chinese and Brazilian tourists shopping on the high-end retail strip to incentivize their visit. Front Desk New York, a luxury city guide that is published by the Manhattan Magazine six times in a year has added a Chinese language supplement aimed specifically at free-spending Chinese visitors. Leslie Wolfson, the VP and Publisher at Manhattan is the mastermind behind this supplement, points out that it’s less expensive for the Chinese to buy luxury goods here and spend money traveling than it is for them to buy the same products in China. The American and European buyers are less brand loyal now but the Chinese shoppers are almost completely motivated by brand loyalty and brands as status symbols. Front Desk is now distributed in airport lounges in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong to catch the tourists before they come to America.