It is estimated that Chinese consumers spend more on luxury goods in airports than any other nationality, yet brands and retailers should not take this income stream for granted because Chinese travellers have special expectations about airport retail.

As reported by Jing Daily, management consultancy McKinsey & Co revealed in 2018 that experiences matter more to Chinese travellers than shopping per se and, therefore, how brands partner with airports to leverage in-store shopping experiences is now key to winning them over.

For example, Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore, which opened in April 2019, is a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex that links three different airport terminals.

It features a host of attractions, including the tallest indoor waterfall in the world, as well as beauty pop-up stations, gaming and live entertainment, which according to Jing Daily further heightens the relevance to targeted consumers, particularly families and millennials.

“Mall attractions help to diversify the functionality of the airport, transforming it into a tourist attraction and shopping destination. For travellers who usually spend limited time inside airports, these unique experiences will impress and motivate them to go back to the airport more than marginal duty-free discounts,” the article read.

Convenience is another must for Chinese consumers, who have become accustomed to the speed and convenience of digital payment options offered by the likes of e-commerce giants Alibaba and Tencent.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands has been a pioneer in this respect, having partnered with WeChat to provide Chinese travellers with a range of tailored services, including a WeChat pick-up point that saves them time at checkout.

WeChat also has launched a similarly convenient program called “Wetaxrefund”, which enables Chinese consumers to receive a tax refund sent direct to their WeChat Pay account. It is reported that 85 international airports now support WeChat’s tax refund service.

Easing and simplifying the visa application process is another measure most likely to appeal to Chinese airport shoppers, but “daigou”, or cross-border exporting, continues to be important. Incheon International Airport in South Korea, for example, plans to establish a duty free, pick-up zone for Chinese daigou next year.

Finally, Jing Daily reported: “One of the most critical considerations of operating airport retail is store location, and this remains true for attracting Chinese tourists. Brands can accentuate a travel retail opportunity by striving for an ideal storefront inside the airport while tracking ever-shifting travel trends.”

Sourced from Jing Daily, McKinsey & Co; additional content by WARC staff