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Top 3 recommendations for attracting the Chinese millennial traveller

February 2, 2017 |   Christine Lee

The Chinese millennial traveller is an important part of the tourism boom in China. Chinese tourists are exploring more of the world and traveling more often. The China National Tourism Board reported that in 2015, 120 million Chinese outbound travellers spent A$287 billion (US$215 billion) worldwide on overseas trips.i

Every year, Australia receives a huge influx of tourists from China. In fact, China is the fastest-growing source country for Australia, with total visitor numbers reaching 1.02 million for year end March 2016 with a 23% 12-month growth.ii

Why is the millennial traveller so important to Australia? Let’s look at the figures. 56% of outbound Chinese travellers were born in the 1980s, and 11% were born after 1990, so a total of 67% come from what we call the millennial generation. That means 67% of all Chinese travellers to Australia are millennials. Decoding and learning to understand the millennial traveller will be the key to the future success of travel companies wanting to tap into the opportunity offered by Chinese travellers. 

1. Understand who the Chinese millennials are

The millennial generation has a distinctly different profile to earlier generations. Compared with older generations, they are eight times more likely to be college graduates and they travel overseas twice as much.iii Because they have grown up with more money available to them, they are more willing to spend when they travel, with a 40% higher spend rate among the upper- middle class compared to earlier generations.

Their readiness to spend has made them very aware of brands and they have developed strong loyalty to and engagement with the brands they love. As an example, the Chinese millennial is aware of 20 skincare brands compared to the US millennials who only know 14. When they shop for skincare products, they look for brands which fit their personality, coming across as young and energetic.

The Chinese millennial wants to own more than earlier generations did, with 47% of survey respondents disagreeing with the statement, “I have enough things and feel less need to buy new things.” In answer to the same question, only 36% of US/EU and 32% of Japanese millennials also disagreed. Chinese millennials are therefore motivated to spend more than US and European consumers.

So, Chinese millennials have grown up in a world of opportunity. They are generally financially secure and have full access to the world via Chinese social media and the Internet. They have money to spend and are willing to do so. Some have been educated overseas so they are ready and willing to embrace the idea of world travel.

Chinese Millennials are affluent, educated and have high disposable incomes.


2. Understand the habits of the Chinese millennial traveller

Independent travellers

With money to spend, Chinese millennials have immense buying power and are willing to spend on overseas travel, which typically means four trips outside their country per year. Interested in being ‘travellers’, rather than ‘tourists’, Chinese millennials seek unique and independent travel experiences. They are less interested in large group tours, but seek adventurous and exciting travel experiences. Thanks to the availability of online booking, travellers can play their own itinerary and explore the parts of the world that interest them. According to Tourism Research Australia, “In the period 2011–13, 532,000 (45%) of Chinese leisure visitors to Australia were FIT,” which are Free and Independent Travellers, not linked to tour groups.iv

Mobile savvy

Millennials are tech-savvy and with high expectations of digital engagement. Simply, they expect things to work, especially on mobile devices. In fact, mobile is key in attracting millennial travellers, with over 57% using their smartphones four to five times a day, and 39% admitting they can’t go more than five minutes without looking at it.v They use social networking and mobile media when searching for travel information, they read online reviews, and they share their travel experiences online.

Mobile is key in attracting millennial travellers


Sharing information

Chinese millennials share different kinds of information than older generations. We know that travellers who were born in the 1970s love to share photos of the landscape and natural world. Millennials born in the 1980s prefer to share their food, drink, and dining experiences as well as photos of their children. Millennial travellers born in the 1990s like to share things about themselves, focusing, for example, on their relationship in couple and group pictures.


3. Know what the Chinese millennial traveller is looking for

The millennial traveller is looking for a deeper experience during their travel, which is why they prefer to travel independently. They want to immerse themselves in the culture, enjoying new cuisines and cultural activities. They prefer to explore nature, visiting scenic locations and looking at local wildlife. At the end of the day, they expect quality accommodation including free Wi-Fi to enable their social media use.

The Chinese millennial traveller is also looking forward to shopping, looking for quality products and value for money. Australian products are regarded as natural, healthy and authentic, and the products most in demand are Health Supplements, Dairy, Honey, Food, Skincare and Cosmetics, and Maternity and Baby

Any Australian business hoping to take their share of the shopping budget needs to be able to market themselves to meet the expectations of the millennial traveller.

Using the three recommendations

We have chosen these as our top three recommendations because they will give you the foundational information on which to build a campaing for marketing in China.

Recommendation #1 is important because when you understand the overall picture of the target group, you can build a more compelling message. 

Recommendation #2 is important because when you understand their habits, which many of your competitors do not, you know how best to reach the target group. 

Finally, recommendation #3 will help you shape the way you present your products so they appeal to the specific preferences of the Chinese millennials.

The millennial traveller is the key to future sales and prosperity for many Australian businesses and if you take the time to understand them and meet their needs, yours will be the business that finds ultimate success.

[i], [ii] The Rising Dragon; [iii];  [iv] Tourism Research Australia: “Dispersal of Chinese Free and Independent Leisure Visitors in Australia” March 2105; [v]; [vi] Australia Post Start Track report “Which Australian products do Chinese consumers want?”

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