Welcome to the first edition of the Retex China monthly newsletter, bringing you the freshest updates straight from our Shanghai team.
In this issue, we dive into the ever-evolving landscape of Chinese economy, offering insights into China’s surging summer spending, economic recovery, and the vibrant world of fashion and design. Additionally, we explore the trends shaping outbound tourism and Chinese consumer behavior on a global scale.
Stay tuned to discover the pulse of China’s economic and cultural trends.
Macro Economy News
China summer spending surges with sold-out shows, packed tourist spots
The China Tourism Academy predicts that this summer will see the busiest travel market in five years, with an estimated 1.8 billion domestic trips made from June to August. This is projected to generate a whopping 1.2 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in domestic tourism revenue.
The influence of popular artists on the tourism industry is undeniable. For instance, Chinese singer Jay Chou’s four-day concerts in Haikou, capital city of south China’s Hainan Province, resulted in a surge of local tourism revenue totaling 980 million yuan. Similarly, popular boy band TFBOYS’ concert in Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, directly generated 416 million yuan in local tourism revenue.
The summer box office has been a resounding success, breaking records by surpassing 17.8 billion yuan in ticket sales. The trend is expected to continue until the end of the season, with the quality of films being highly acclaimed.
The recovery of China’s economy takes longer than expected
The June statistics for China’s imports and exports shocked the financial world recently. A decline of 12.4% for exports and 6.8% for imports showed that the recovery of China’s economy takes longer than expected, or to put it more clearly, is currently not happening.
For the first half year of 2023, exports to most markets grew, however, unfortunately the three markets, which saw a decline or stagnation, were among the Top 4 markets for China, representing together more than a third of all Chinese exports. Double-digit growth was only achieved for Africa and Russia, which together count for just 8% of all Chinese exports. In the first half of 2019, Chinese exports to the EU had still grown by 8%.
Fashion & Design News
Estée Lauder’ performance in China
Some of its highlights in the Chinese market, include:
- Hair care brand Aveda entered China at the beginning of the fiscal year, and fragrance brand Le Labo entered China at the end of the fiscal year.
- Le Labo’s first store in Shanghai was the brand’s best performing store globally in June.
- The e-commerce business in mainland China achieved organic growth of more than 30% in the last quarter and increased its market share in high-end beauty by 2 percentage points.
- Estée Lauder opened its China Innovation and Research Center and a new logistics and distribution center in Guangzhou.
Courrèges is on Tmall Luxury!
French fashion house Courrèges announced on Thursday that it has officially joined Tmall Luxury, adopting a digital-first strategy to reach Chinese consumers more directly and connect with them emotionally.
Seeking growth in China, Gucci opens flagship store at JD
Following in the footsteps of Bottega Veneta and Qeelin, Gucci, the flagship brand of the Kering Group, has entered into a strategic partnership with JD, officially opening its official flagship store today, offering a full range of men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, accessories, handbags, shoes and children’s clothing.
In March 2018, the eyewear division of the Kering Group was officially stationed on JD Mall to open its first official flagship store, offering optical eyewear and sunglasses products from a number of brands such as Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent and others.
The official entry of Gucci conveys a signal that, after years of observation, the Kering Group will also be fully landed on JD.
Italian luxury brand Valentino, which was recently acquired by Kering for 1.7 billion euros for a 30 percent stake, also landed on JD at the end of last year and has attracted 64,000 people’s attention.
Fendi Casa’s first flagship store in China
Fendi Casa opens its first flagship store in China at Plaza 1788, West Nanjing Road, Shanghai, the third flagship store of Fendi Casa in the world after Milan and Miami.
Outbound Tourism News
MSC Cruises to Deploy Twin Ships in Greater Bay Area
On August 16, China Merchants Shekou and MSC Mediterranean Cruises, the world’s largest family-owned cruise company, jointly organized a conference, where MSC Mediterranean Cruises officially announced that it would conduct a dual ship deployment in the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Greater Bay Area – Asia’s flagship, MSC Bellissima, and the star ship, MSC Splendida.
As far as the entire Chinese market is concerned, in 2024 MSC Cruises will not only be the first international cruise brand to operate cruise voyages in the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area, but will also synergize with the three homeports of Taiwan, Shanghai and Shenzhen, becoming the only international cruise brand to realize the deployment of two ships and three homeports in the Chinese market in the first year of its resumption of sailings after the quarantine in 2024.
Chinese outbound tourism global news
- Chinese Outbound Tourism resurgence part of Dubai’s aim to become world’s top international destination. Dubai’s ambitious plan to turn into the world’s most visited international destination by the end of the year is counting among other markets on bringing back the millions of Chinese visitors who visited Dubai in 2019. Threatened by the massive expansion of tourism to Saudi Arabia, Dubai needs to solidify its position as a major destination and hub in the region.
- Annual Meeting of the New Champions – World Economy Forum 2023: Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also sent a major delegation to the Champions meeting, which took place in Tianjin, China during June 27-29, 2023, to talk among many other topics also about the increase of the number of Chinese tourists to Saudi Arabia. The discussions were a follow-up to the Arab-China Business Conference in Riyadh in early June.
- USA preparing for a return of Chinese visitors. Destination Marketing Organizations including Visit California and New York City Tourism & Conventions are preparing to conduct sales trips to China in anticipation of an increase in air connections between China and the USA. Reflecting the strained U.S.-China relations and airspace concerns, which have limited air service, only one third of the arrivals of 2019 were registered for the first half year of 2023.
- African countries counting on Chinese looking to discover new destinations. Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa are among the African countries implementing strategies to attract Chinese tourists, including resuming direct flights, easing visa requirements, and engaging in direct marketing through platforms like Mafengwo, WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin. They can hope to profit from the trend in post-pandemic tourism to look for new destinations and experiences.
- Portugal’s WeChat mini program boosts Chinese outbound tourism. Portugal’s tourism organization launched a mini program on WeChat to promote Portuguese cuisine, tourist spots, and festivities to the Chinese tourists to get back and eventually surpass the number of 385,000 Chinese arrivals who visited Portugal in 2019. The Portuguese Tourism Board reacts to the reopening of the Chinese outbound market with the mini program which will give recommendations and help Chinese visitors in planning and paying for travel in Portugal.
- More visa application than 2019 but slow growth. Many experts agree that the number of visa applications from Chinese travellers will exceed the number of applications in 2019, partly reflecting the large number of multiple-year visa, which expired during the pandemic and the fact that some destinations require now a visa, but also showing the great interest for outbound trips. How many Chinese will have a chance to travel abroad in 2023 will therefore also depend on the question how fast additional resources for the consulate will be introduced.
Over 80% of Chinese Female Consumers Reject Impulse Spending
According to the China Consumer Insight Report 2023 released by Marketing, 93% of female consumers and 81% of male consumers surveyed said that they valued value for money of goods the most, and their pursuit of quality has not relaxed.
Notably, 81% of female consumers said that the number of impulse purchases has decreased compared to the previous year, and another 58% of female consumers will think about whether they really have a need to buy when spending.
In addition, Bain & Company expects that Chinese consumers are expected to regain their pre-epidemic dominance of luxury goods, accounting for 38% to 40% of global purchases, surpassing the Americas and Europe to become the world’s largest luxury market, accounting for 25% to 27% of global purchases.
The fact that robustness will be a key quality of China’s luxury market will be a boon.
Qixi Festival, known as Chinese Valentine’s Day
Nowadays, under the competition of 214 Western Valentine‘s Day, 520 Digital Valentine’s Day and other related festivals, as well as shopping festivals “Double 11” and “618”, how to achieve differentiation and promote brand development in the “Qixi Festival” has become a major issue.
In this year’s Qixi campaign for luxury goods, the concept of “love” has been expanded again and again – we have seen a number of brands explore the concept of “love” on the basis of “love”. In addition to “love”, we also saw a number of brands enrich the connotation of “love” with themes such as family, friendship and self-growth, which are highly valued in Chinese cultural traditions and beguiling practices, while some brands combined their own culture with the Qixi scenario, injecting their own interpretations of oriental love.
The trend of the “self-satisfaction” type of Qixi consumption is also gradually becoming popular. With the brand’s Qixi activities and capsule series products, many female consumers will choose some of their favourite products as gifts for themselves.
Love yourself first, then love others. With the evolution of the concept of female consumers, the holiday does not necessarily have to love people to send gifts, pleasing oneself is the key.