• Andrew Collins

5 Shopping Habits of Chinese Tourists

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

It’s hard to overlook Chinese consumers’ ability to shop while abroad, especially when they are becoming more and more sophisticated. So, let’s take a look at the top five shopping habits of Chinese tourists!

  1. They do research before their trip

Most Chinese tourists spend a lot of time on research before taking their trips abroad. Even if they use a travel agency with a predetermined itinerary, they will still research what to buy. Because travelling abroad is a rare opportunity for most people, they want to make a complete shopping list to ensure they get every thing on their wish list. There are some really popular websites for them to rely on, such as “Mafengwo” and “Qiongyou”. Both of these websites are focused on travel notes instead of organized guides. So, people have to spend a decent bit of time to pick out the useful information.

  1. The shopping experience is getting more and more important for them

Right now, Chinese tourists don’t care too much about the “shopping experience”. In order to get a good price, they are willing to stand in a line for a long time, and they have a much better temperament when dealing potential bad attitudes from retail staff. This being said, trends show us that there is a growing desire for them to enjoy better service. In essence, they are learning that luxury includes service and experience, not just products.

  1. They spend a lot, and they spend efficiently

Chinese government tourism statistics reveal that outbound tourists spent a record $164.8 billion overseas in 2014. Since their schedule is pretty tight while traveling, a lot of Chinese shoppers tend to do their shopping efficiently, buying a high volume of goods in a very short of time. This is aided by their previously mentioned habit of researching, ahead of time, what they want to purchase.

  1. They have preferences for where they want to spend

Although they’re very into shopping and spend a lot of money, they don’t spend money everywhere. For example, they don’t like “shopping tours” where the tour guide takes them to unknown shops. They only want to go to places that are well-known. The following are the traditional places that Chinese tourists enjoy shopping:

  1. Duty-free shop (81.55%)

  2. Large-sized department stores (69.65%)

  3. Brand franchise stores (51.29%)

  4. Discount stores/outlets (37.73%)


So what about boutiques and indie stores? I admit they are attractive but they don’t seem to be Chinese friendly.

  1. They have preferences on products as well

Why do Chinese spend so much money abroad? They shop abroad mainly for two reasons with the first being the price discrepancy. The same product may have huge discrepancy in price between in China and abroad. Not to mention products from their country of origin have more authenticity. Secondly, there is a limitation of product selection back in China. This leads Chinese tourists to predominately buying the following types of products:

  1. Souvenirs: Things with obvious local features are perfect as gifts. Such as a mini Eiffel Tower model bought right under Eiffel Tower.

  2. Daily needs: Things related to health such as milk powder and honey.

  3. Fashion brands: Bags, shoes, perfumes, apparel, accessories from fashion brands such as Dior, Prada and Coach are highly favored by Chinese women. Aside from this, they also like watches, jewelry, luxury wines, and cosmetics among other things.


The research definitely shows that Chinese tourism is creating a massive opportunity for retailers abroad. The real question is whether or not they have adjusted their marketing strategies to capture the business of these high-spending consumers.

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