Why Chinese Tourists Are The 'Dream Consumers' For The Luxury Retailers Of Fifth Avenue

Chinese Shopping Girl Woman

Chinese tourists are visiting New York City in droves, and bringing with them a “spend, spend, spend” mentality that’s been a huge boon to retailers.

306,000 tourists visited New York from China and Hong Kong last year, up from just 59,000 in 2002, Crain’s recently reported.

And the typical Chinese tourist stays an average of 11.3 nights in the city, and spends some $3,297 per visit, according to the latest numbers from the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Last year, visitors from China contributed $877 million to the city’s economy.

Now, savvy marketers are taking advantage of the boom. This summer, a coalition of businesses on Madison Avenue joined forces to offer coupons to Chinese and Brazilian tourists shopping on the high-end retail strip, according to Crain’s.

Take a deep dive into China’s growing lust for luxury goods >
And luxury city guide Front Desk New York, a shopping guide put out by the publishers of Manhattan magazine six times per year, just started publishing a special Chinese-language supplement aimed specifically at free-spending Chinese visitors.

“It’s less expensive for the Chinese to buy luxury goods here and spend money travelling than it is for them to buy the same products in China,” said Leslie Wolfson, the VP and Publisher at Manhattan and Front Desk and the mastermind behind the new supplement.

For Chinese tourists who can afford them, labels mean everything.

leslie wolfsonLeslie Wolfson, VP and Publisher of Front Desk

Unlike American and European shoppers, who are not as brand-loyal as they once were, Chinese shoppers seem “almost completely motivated by brand loyalty and brands as status symbols,” Wolfson said.

That mentality means that they also get deeply “hooked” on luxury brands–think Gucci, or Tiffany–and build long-term relationships with them.

Chinese tourists also have a different mentality when it comes to gift-giving.

“Culturally, buying gifts is a big part of the heritage,” Wolfson said. “If a businessman comes to New York, he may spend $10,000 or $15,000 on gifts to bring back to clients, family and friends. If a husband and wife come for a trip, they’ll buy for their own consumption and for everyone in their circle.”

The best time for luxury brands to snag new customers visiting from China is before they set foot on U.S. soil, said Wolfson. Front Desk is now distributed in airport lounges in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, as well as by a tour operator.

Apart from China, Brazil is the major exporter of free-spending tourists to New York, said Wolfson, who eventually hopes to build a half-Spanish, half-Portuguese supplement to the luxury city guide. She said, “they are, next to the Chinese, the dream consumer.”

Take a deep dive into China’s growing lust for luxury goods >

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