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Brands Chinese tourists crave

An analysis of online conversations has collated the brand preferences of mainland Chinese tourists going to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the US.

Digital insights firm 6Estates extracted the data from nearly 300,000 conversations on social platforms and travel websites during the last quarter of last year, using Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms that process authentic conversations in English and Chinese to provide more accurate context to the discussion.

A key finding of the research is that local brands – Charles & Keith and Bee Cheng Hiang in Singapore,Sasa in Hong Kong, Uniqlo in Japan and Coach in the US – were as desirable as luxury brands such as Chanel, Estée Lauder and Hermès.

Most Chinese outbound travellers(46 per cent) listed US as their preferred destination, followed by Japan (26 per cent), Hong Kong (21 per cent) and Singapore (5 per cent), and that they intended to shop for clothing, cosmetics, luxury goods and watches.

“We were able to pinpoint top destinations within each country, valuable information for tourism boards and retailers targeting tourists,” says 6Estates CEO and co-founder Gary Chin. “In Japan, for example, we worked with a leading advertising agency to find out where Chinese tourists travelled to, and what they were saying about their experiences.

“With the findings, it will be possible to develop more targeted tourism campaigns that speak directly to the Chinese audience.”

Chin says Singapore was the only country where food was a hot topic among travellers, with barbecued pork delicacy brand Bee Cheng Hiang gaining special mention.

Chinese travellers originate mainly from the tier-one cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, the study shows. The two cities have the highest incomes in the nation, indicating that travellers are likely to be affluent, says Chin.

According to the China National Tourism Association, 120 million Chinese travelled abroad last year, a 19.5 per cent year-on-year increase and nearly 13 times the level in 1998.

A report by Fung Business Intelligence Centre and China Luxury Advisors says Chinese tourist overseas expenditures are expected to have reached US$229 billion last year.
As consumers increasingly go online to seek information before shopping, a wealth of data is being created, says Chin.

Based in Singapore, 6Estates is a spin-off from Next, a joint research centre of NUS and Tsinghua University focusing on data and social-media analytics. It was founded in 2014 by Chin, a digital marketing veteran, computer science expert Dr Luan Huanbo, researcher Dr Chua Tat-Seng and entrepreneur Roger Yuen. The company’s flagship product, Automated Marketing Intelligence (AMI), can help businesses determine brand and product perceptions, and consumer preferences in the areas of travel, beauty, mobile technology/services and entertainment.

Key findings based on 300,000 online conversations…

Hong Kong

Destinations: Causeway, Kowloon, Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Victoria Harbour; products: alcohol, body supplements; cosmetics, luxury goods, watches; top five brands: Chanel, Estée Lauder, Hermès, Lancôme, Piaget.


Destinations: Changi Airport, Clarke Quay, Mount Faber, Orchard Road, Sentosa; products: clothing, cosmetics, food, luxury goods, watches; brands: Estée Lauder, Chanel, Crocs, Lancôme, L’Oreal.


Destinations: Hokkaido, Kyoto, Okinawa, Osaka, Tokyo; products: clothing, cosmetics, electronics, luxury goods, watches; brands: Louis Vuitton, Panasonic, Shiseido, Sony, Uniqlo.

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