Aside from their buying power and influential style, these single shoppers between the ages of 18 and 39 are also the fastest-growing segment of outbound Chinese travelers. Combined they make up as much as 50 percent of total Chinese international shoppers.
Their top three favorite brands bought overseas were followed by Coach, Hermès, Chanel, Burberry, Boss and Tiffany. Interestingly, Louis Vuitton, which had in past years been ranked number one, is now 10th. That is an indication of how many Chinese Millennials “crave different brands compared to what their parents preferred,” according to Alexander Glos, China i2i chief executive officer.
Referring to two major trends in global Chinese travel shopping, he said, “The rise of the Millennial, or as I call them in China — ‘Singletons,’ because they are choosing to enjoy life and are delaying marriage. Second, the willingness to explore with new brands, be unique and not be a follower.”
The bottom half of the list was comprised of Saint Laurent, Cartier, Omega, Leica, Rimowa and WMF, respectively, with the survey base of 11,500 Chinese travel shoppers.
The China i2i WeChat system uses traditional print publications distributed to Chinese travelers at the point of their travel visa application as the source to find what the company describes as “real” travelers. More than 99 percent of these readers will travel and each magazine has its own WeChat platform that readers are invited to join. This creates a 1.2 million travel shopper ecosystem that brands and retailers can tap to connect with customers on a daily basis, like a CRM system, the company said.
Glos said,”From the fashion perspective, what is most interesting is the speed in which the tastes and desires of the millennial shopper changes and shifts. The brand connection of Chinese Millennials is less than in the West. Brands are important, but new brands are always moving to the top of the list. What was hot last year is passé today.”
While brands continue to try to encourage purchases in China, “the real reason Chinese shop abroad is for status,” according to Glos. “It’s about showing that you are capable of buying Dior in Paris. The same Dior is available in China, but to buy Dior in Paris and sharing with your 735 closest friends on Wechat – this is the cachet, this is the reason they shop abroad.” he added.
Based on the survey, these travelers accounted for more than $3.4 billion in annual shopping while traveling around the world, with 690,000 guests staying in four- or five-star hotels and 875,000 using rental cars. Ninety percent of the respondents said they shop when traveling abroad. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they spend $1,469 a trip and 23 percent said they spend $2,939.
Ninety-four percent said they use their WeChat internationally while shopping and traveling. WeChat, China’s largest social media platform with more than 900 million daily users, is routinely used between 45 and 65 times each day.
Looking ahead to where they hope to travel in the next year, Chinese Millennials put France, Italy, Germany and the U.K. at the top of the list. Switzerland as their fifth most-popular country to travel to. As for which U.S. cities, the Singletons plan to get to in the next 12 months, they listed New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.