Since I was young, I had been watching Japanese cartoons and using Japanese household products bought by my mom. When I hear Chinese customers have spent more than RMB6 billion in Japan during Chinese New Year 2015, I wasn’t that surprised.

Here are some reasons why Chinese like to visit Japan and buy their products:

  • Japanese currency value in 2015 has depreciated compared to 2014
  • Japanese government has expanded “Free tax” policy in October 2014 – Foreign customers purchasing Japanese skincare, food, drinks, medicine, electronic appliances, clothing, and accessories over certain value can enjoy free tax
  • Japanese government has loosened the requirements for Chinese customers to get tourist visas
  • Thanks to the decreasing oil cost, the flight cost to Japan is now lower than before
  • Japan is closer to Greater China region (compared to the UK, Europe and USA), so the flight cost is relatively cheaper and it takes less time to travel
  • Japanese goods, especially household products, are generally perceived as high-quality products among Chinese. The sizes of Japanese household products are smaller than those European and American ones, which fit better for Chinese’s relatively small living space.
  • Imported foreign products yield high import tax that makes it more expensive if you buy them in foreign countries
  • “Travel for shopping” has been a popular leisure activity and trend
  • Japan and China have some commonality in Asian culture

I have summed up some of the reasons that explain why Chinese consumers have spent more than RMB6 billion in Japan during the Chinese New Year.

So what are the popular products that Chinese tourists like buying?

  • Luxury watch
  • Household products such as rice cookers, knives, toilet appliances, etc.
  • Baby milk powder
  • Camera
  • Skincare and cosmetic
  • Fashion
  • Electronic goods and tablets
  • Alcohol
  • Luggage

Having a Chinese counter in shopping malls is getting more popular – union pay available, Mandarin-speaking sales representatives, as well as Chinese language in-store displays, etc.

According to c-trip, the largest online and mobile platform to book flight, hotel and travel package in China, the top 10 destinations that Chinese customers have spent the most (from top to bottom) during Chinese New Year 2015 were:

  1. Thailand
  2. Japan
  3. USA
  4. Korea
  5. Singapore
  6. Indonesia
  7. Australia
  8. Maldives
  9. Italy
  10. Dubai

Half of the residents travelled the above counties through travel agencies while the remaining half arranged their trips by themselves.

To stimulate local economy, Japanese government is gearing up to attract more Chinese shoppers to strengthen their local economy by attracting more Chinese shoppers to spend. In this era, we are not only competing within our region, we also compete with other neighbouring regions and countries.

It is important to react quickly to capture opportunities before competitors are grabbing them.

To all brand owners who want to grow their brands in China:

What are you still waiting for?