Whilst tourist attractions such as cathedrals, palaces and museums usually fill the pages of local guidebooks, new research from Mintel* reveals a more adventurous side to Chinese holidaymakers looking for an adrenaline rush when they go away. Indeed, Mintel’s research finds that 16% of urban Chinese consumers say they would be interested in doing extreme sports whilst away, rising to one in four (25%) among men aged 20-24.

Overall, one in four (28%) urban Chinese consumers have been on a holiday overseas in the last year. While taking a break from skydiving or surfing, eating local food tops the list of experiences Chinese holiday makers are interested in trying when away, with 74% of consumers interested in trying the local food when on holiday. Meanwhile, half (52%) say they look to experience local traditions and 45% agree they are interested in staying in local accommodation. In addition, one in four (23%) say they are interested in learning to cook local food.

16% of urban Chinese consumers say they would be interested in doing extreme sports whilst away

What is more, local food also tops the list of the products they purchase whilst on holiday abroad, with 94% of Chinese holidaymakers saying that they spent money on local food specialities. Fashion is also high on the shopping list, with four in five (80%) Chinese consumers who have taken a holiday in the past year saying they purchased clothes and footwear, followed by personal care products and colour cosmetics (79%) and accessories (78%).

Linda Li, Senior Research Analyst China at Mintel, said:

“Due to the fast pace of modern life, Chinese consumers see holidays as a break from work, a chance to get rid of stress, a way to escape from their day-to-day city routines and get revitalised. Something exciting and different can serve such needs and extreme sports, such as bungee jumping or skydiving, would certainly make holidays more memorable and a bigger break from everyday routines. Meanwhile, the growing emphasis on local experiences implies that Chinese tourists are more open to embracing local culture.They want to have a more comprehensive understanding of the travel destination in addition to visiting historical sites and viewing landscapes. Both of these areas raise opportunities for destinations with fewer spectacular landscapes or historical sites, as long as they can market themselves as different.”

When planning holiday activities, young men are the most likely to want to adopt the local language, with 21% of men aged 20-24 saying they’d be interested in learning the local language while on holiday, compared to 15% overall. But while young men soak up the local experiences, it seems that women are the most likely to spend their holiday money when shopping, with 69% of women buying personal care products and colour cosmetics for themselves whilst away, compared to 53% of men. Similarly 42% of women bought perfume for themselves, compared to 35% of men and 70% bought clothes and footwear for themselves, compared to 61% of men.

And as Chinese consumers have strong purchasing power, there are ways to leverage in terms of payment method. Mintel’s research looks into the ‘must have’ elements for Chinese travellers, and the availability of Chinese payment methods tops the list, with almost half (47%) of Chinese consumers citing this as important. What’s more, over a third (36%) say that having access to the internet is a ‘must have,’ whilst 34% say the same of having a Chinese-speaking tour guide and 30% say the same of having public information in Chinese.

Retailers overseas would have more opportunities to stimulate sales if they accept Chinese payment methods. Chinese consumers also focus on internet access, since they like to search for information about their holiday and update their status while away. Holiday marketers therefore have opportunities to leverage internet access to attract more Chinese travelers and benefit from their sharing to create free publicity.” Linda concludes.

Finally, when looking to book a trip it appears that overseas destinations are more attractive to couples, with married Chinese consumers far more likely than single consumers to have taken a holiday overseas. Indeed, 33% of married consumers say they have taken a holiday overseas, compared to 14% of singletons.

Press review copies of Mintel’s Marketing to Chinese Tourists and interviews with Senior Research Analyst Linda Li, are available on request from the press office.

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