Luxury brands might have forgotten that Wealthy Chinese shoppers also wanted a good service

Bottega Veneta store ChinaKering, the French luxury group, is adapting its sales approach to better cater for increasingly sophisticated Chinese customers, according to group managing director Jean-François Palus.
“We’ve changed the way we conduct our business in China and the way we address Chinese clients when they’re abroad,” said Mr Palus at the Financial Times luxury conference in Lisbon on Tuesday.
“We learnt that a very serious risk is to become complacent, to think that it’s an easy business, an easy customer base, easy to open stores with good products and then people will come in. That was true for a moment but Chinese customers have become sophisticated and highly demanding and we need to adapt.”
Chinese consumers account for more than 30 per cent of global luxury consumption, according to consultant Bain, which is forecast to increase to 35 per cent by 2020.
How much of global luxury consumption Chinese consumers account for, according to Bain, a figured set to rise to 35% by 2020
In the past, luxury houses relied on rapidly opening up stores in China to fuel growth amid rampant Asian demand for their products, but this approach has been undermined by an economic slowdown in China.
In the final quarter of last year, Chinese consumers showed signs of returning, although notably shopping more in mainland China, while tourism in Europe has slowed in part owing to recent terrorist attacks.
In China, Kering is retraining shop assistants and replacing email communication with WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform with more than 800m daily users.
Mr Palus said: “The way the Chinese treat very important clients is different — they have a very candid approach to wealth.”
He pointed to a recent visit to a Gucci store in Beijing where the store manager told him he had hired the daughter of a billionaire to work with clients in the shop “because to talk to wealthy people in China, you need to be wealthy”. He added that bad feng shui in a shop can hurt client traffic.
According to Pierre Gervois, the New York Based Founder and Publisher of the STC magazine, a luxury travel publication for High Net Worth Chinese global travelers “HNWI Chinese clearly signaled about  five years ago that they wanted to purchase luxury goods outside China, to enjoy the full experience of the iconic flagship stores in London, Paris or New York”
“This new trend has not been immediately recognized by luxury conglomerates such as LVMH and Kering, that led to an inflation of store openings in China in the years 2010/2015, with little customer traffic, insufficient staff training, and in some cases damaging consequences in terms of brand image.”, Mr Gervois added.
Kering posted a 31.2 per cent rise in revenues to €3.57bn in the first three months of 2017, lifted by a 34 per cent jump in sales from luxury activities.
Among its brands, Gucci led the way, posting record revenue growth of 51.4 per cent for the three months — the latest sign of improvement under creative director Alessandro Michele. Other Kering brands such as Brioni and Bottega Veneta were doing less well than the likes of Saint Laurent.
Mr Palus said: “The market has become more difficult and the pace of growth has slowed down. In this environment you need to take market share from the competition.”
Kering was not looking at acquisitions, added Mr Palus. “We have so much on our plate with helping our existing brands tap their potential . . . we don’t have enough time to think about M&A.”
He said that Kering was also still adapting to digital platforms. “We need to open ourselves to what’s happening in other industries and other countries. Our industry needs to become less product-centric and become more customer-centric.”

Source: The Financial Times / Chinese Tourists Blog

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Mainland Chinese shoppers accounted for 75% arrivals in Hong Kong in 2016

Chinese power couple - China Elite FocusShoppers from mainland China contributed 35% of Hong Kong’s total retail sales in 2016, which is up from 15% 10 years ago.

Visitors from mainland China now account for 75% of the tourist arrivals in Hong Kong according to Hong Kong Tourism Board reports, up from 54% in 2006.

Mainland travelers spend an average of 2.7 nights in Hong Kong per trip and spend more than CNY20,000 (US$2,900) each time they visit. And while 5 in 10 visitors buy jewelry and watches on their trips, some visitors who come to enjoy the food (51%) and culture (40%) who spend 10% more during their stay than those who come just to shop.

According to Nielsen’s recent study, Hong Kong covers off on the top 6 reasons that consumers look for when they consider regional travel. Online travel agencies and social media are dominant influencers to mainland Chinese travelers, at 95% and 49%, respectively according to Nielsen.

The Brexit’s One Bright Spot: More Chinese gentlemen getting bespoke suits in London

The STC magazine Sept 2016 CoverA volatile stock market, downgraded credit rating, and plunging pound may be some of the economic woes plaguing the UK after the Brexit vote, but there is one thing that seems set to go up in the near future: Chinese tourist numbers.

According to a recent report in Shanghai Daily, travel agencies are seeing a surge in Chinese travelers booking tour packages to the UK as travel and shopping in the region are set to become much cheaper. According to Chinese travel agency Shanghai Spring Tour, all of its tour packages to Britain have now been totally booked for the summer. Meanwhile, Ctrip has also seen a jump in bookings to the UK.

“An interesting reason for this increase of London travel for affluent Chinese men is the new trend for bespoke tailoring”, said Pierre Gervois, Publisher of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club (STC) magazine, a digital luxury travel magazine for wealthy Chinese gentlemen. “As London is probably the best city in Europe to get a bespoke suit, a growing number of Chinese gentlemen are going to London to see their tailor – such as Benson & Clegg, for example, and take advantage of the favorable exchange rate as well”, Pierre Gervois added.

Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisWith shopping a high travel priority and an acute awareness of where to seek out the best prices of luxury goods and avoid mainland tariffs, Chinese tourists have been known to follow currency fluctuations to get a good deal. This has been one factor in the recent Chinese spending boom in Japan as the weak yen means cheaper prices of luxury goods and premium Japanese brands. When the ruble rapidly plunged in 2014, Chinese travelers and daigou sellers rushed to Russia and cleared out entire luxury boutiques thanks to the cheap prices.

The UK has long been working to attract more Chinese tourists, but its exclusion from the Schengen Area has made the visa application process cumbersome for visitors from China. As groups such as the luxury retailer-led UK-China Visa Alliance have lobbied for easier visa access, the government has made changes such as a two-year multi-entry visa policy for Chinese travelers as well as a partnership with Belgium to grant Chinese visitors with a Belgium-issued Schengen visa access to the UK.

But these efforts for greater EU-related visa access may now be undone, showing it’s not all good news when it comes to Chinese tourism in the post-Brexit UK. UK-Europe package tours could take a hit as participants traveling to both the UK and European countries would have to declare tax-free goods brought from the UK into Europe. This includes not only European countries, but also Ireland, which will now see fewer Chinese tourists entering form the UK.

In the long run, Chinese tourists are risk-averse when it comes to making their travel plans and tend to avoid places seen as politically unstable. The perception of increased political and economic instability could also deter the Chinese real estate buyers who have been flooding to London in recent years.

Source: Jing Daily / TopTier