The Chinese outbound tourism market is growing at an unprecedented rate, with the UK a firm favourite amongst travellers.
Whether you’re a retailer, a food and drinks business, or work in the hospitality industry, it’s important to reassess your brand positioning and make some changes to your offering and marketing strategy if you want to engage with affluent Chinese consumers who have money to spend, as tapping into that market can be lucrative.
Indeed, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Chinese tourists spend twice as much as tourists from the United States, on average, when travelling overseas, whilst 116 million more Chinese consumers are expected to get a passport in the coming years, signalling triple-digit growth in potential customers for your luxury goods firm.
Below, we outline some of the steps to consider if you’re looking to attract more affluent Chinese tourists at your business in the United Kingdom, and offer some words of wisdom on how to position your business in a way that will be most attractive to Chinese consumers.
Start with your digital strategy
Whether you’re selling online or want Chinese consumers to head to your retail locations, start with your digital strategy. A Chinese-language website is a good starting point, but you should also think about improving your SEO on Chinese search engines like Baidu, as local SEO can offer immediate benefits when targeting the right keywords. Appearing in the top spot for a keyword like ‘designer jewellers in London’, for example, could be highly lucrative.
Working to build your presence on Chinese social media is critical. Sign up for accounts on WeChat, Weibo, and Xiaohongshu, creating original content aimed at moneyed Chinese travellers.
Regular reminders of your products and in-store experiences can put you at the top of their lists when visiting the UK, and working with influencers can build credibility and brand awareness, particularly in the luxury goods market where competition is intense.
Understand luxury standards
When targeting affluent Chinese tourists, take the time to understand their luxury standards and accept that they may be very different from those in the West.
It’s easy to (very wrongly) assume that Chinese consumers aren’t used to the same luxury standards or experiences offered in Western markets, but remember that there are more millionaires in China than any other nation (bar the US) and by 2021, China will have the most affluent households in the world. Chinese consumers have incredibly high standards when interacting with luxury brands because they’re spoilt for choice in their home country. You’ll need to work hard to impress.
Take the time to define your target audience and design experiences and products that best suit their needs. For Chinese consumers in UK cities like London, you may choose to offer novelty goods and services, or a seasonal rotation of merchandise to appeal to their needs and tastes. Chinese consumers love limited edition and exclusive products that can make a statement - marketing your goods and services in this way could offer the biggest impact.
Communication is key
In the luxury goods market, customer experience is critical. Chinese tourists demand the same level of service and attention to detail as consumers in the UK, so make sure that you review every touchpoint and make your brand as accessible as possible to Chinese buyers.
For luxury goods businesses with physical retail locations, having staff learn key Chinese phrases can make all of the difference. Unless you’re expecting an influx of Chinese tourists, you don’t need to hire a Mandarin-speaking customer service agent, but giving all of your staff basic training in dealing with Chinese consumers will go a long way in showing that you care about their in-store experience. Online, Chinese-language customer support could help.
Don’t focus on sales
When welcoming Chinese tourists to your store, don’t focus on selling. Instead, think about awareness and perception of your brand - particularly if you have a presence in China, too.
Flagship stores can help you to build your brand image and show Chinese consumers why they should take notice. Even if they’re not ready to buy now, a positive in-store experience will encourage them to follow your brand on WeChat, search for you on Baidu, and purchase your goods online when they return to China. Find the right balance for your niche, but make sure that you have the right digital strategy to back up everything you’re doing in-store.
Offer the right payment options
Convenience and familiarity can help you to win sales and encourage repeat business from Chinese consumers, so implement WeChat and AliPay in-store and online. Display logos on your storefront and website to encourage sales and offer reassurance to well-off Chinese consumers, who often do not carry cash and prefer not to use credit cards internationally.
Around the world, luxury goods businesses are already making the switch - in the United States, for example, many merchants are introducing QR Code Payments, Alipay, and WeChat Pay at retail locations to appeal to Chinese tourists.
Don’t overdo it
Whilst we would always recommend making your business Chinese-friendly, sophisticated travellers head to other countries for the purpose of experiencing local culture.
Indeed, the chances are that your affluent Chinese clientele can speak English, and they don’t want to feel like they’re shopping in China - they want an authentic English shopping experience, whether they’re in your retail store or they’re buying online. Be accommodating, but don’t overdo it - and don’t necessarily assume that Chinese tourists will want to speak Mandarin.
Go the extra mile
Offering upgrades, experiences or gifts can add an element of exclusivity when selling goods to Chinese consumers, so consider ways you can go the extra mile and add value to their shopping experience.
If you go above and beyond to make a customer smile, they’re more likely to leave a positive review of your business on Dazhong Dianping (the Chinese version of Yelp or TripAdvisor) and follow and engage with your brand on social media, even if they don’t purchase from you on the day.
Think long-term when targeting Chinese consumers in the luxury sector, and reap the rewards in terms of brand advocacy and repeat purchases.
With the number of international tourists from China expected to grow in the coming years, it is essential that luxury brands take the time to understand what wealthy consumers want and expect when they visit the UK.
By tailoring your services and going above and beyond to impress, you can capture the attention of big spenders and build your brand image not only in the UK but in China, where affluent consumers will spread the word about your products.
To find out more about Zudu, and how we can help you tap into a market of more than 1.4 billion Chinese consumers, click here or call us on +44 (0)1382 690 080. We look forward to hearing from you soon and helping you to develop a unique digital marketing strategy that will allow you to exploit the growing Chinese tourism market here in the United Kingdom.