ASIA PACIFIC: Chinese travellers are becoming less sensitive to price abroad, new figures suggest, as good quality and authenticity grow in importance.

This is according to figures from Counter Intelligence Retail, whose March 2018 data shows that ‘cheaper price’ as a purchase driver dropped from 41% last year to 34%. In just one year, the low-price purchase driver was reduced to third in the list of most prominent drivers.

Said CiR Founder and President, Garry Stasiulevicuis, “pricing as a driver seems to have dropped back substantially in DF&TR while quality has come to the fore.” In fact, good quality was the top purchase driver with 40% of respondents agreeing, up two percentage points from the 2017 data, suggesting that consumers are increasingly seeking value.

Meanwhile, the reasons for shopping are becoming more nuanced. This year, item authenticity was the second most prominent purchase driver, at 36%, an indication that travellers remain wary of buying fake or counterfeit products.

A variety of reasons could explain these shifts, Stasiulevicuis added, it “could reflect improved shopper confidence due to the sustained strength of GDP growth in China translating to higher spending power. It may well also reflect the stronger spending now being seen in the Chinese domestic market”.

Overall, the kinds of holidays that China’s travellers are choosing are now more diverse, implying that travel is becoming a more accessible experience to the country’s growing middle class.

This manifests in the CiR figures as a drop in souvenir hunters – though just under a fifth (18%) consider a memento an important purchase driver.

In the last year, surprising places have seen rising numbers of Chinese tourists, with Morocco, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Vietnam and Cambodia seeing a rise in demand.

Earlier, a report observed that among a sample of 3,000 travellers, key factors guiding destination choice included safety, historical/heritage value and being ‘on my bucket list’.

In November, Harrods boss Michael Ward told Campaign Asia that, in his experience “Asian shoppers don’t have that discount mentality. What they want is the very best of everything.”

While the experience of a Knightsbridge department store is a skewed indication, the economic might of the Chinese traveller is growing, just as more tourists begin to go further afield than Asia.

Data from 57 Chinese airports compiled by CiR shows that travel to the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe has grown by double digits year on year.

Sourced from Counter Intelligence Retail, Campaign Asia, WARC