The Chinese middle class-they are wealthy, have a passion for travel, a
love of brands and are providing new opportunities for the Australasia region,
as new research from Mintel
) finds that as many as 40% of all Chinese middle classes holidayed in
Australasia last year, making it the most visited region worldwide for Chinese
middle class consumers.
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Within Australasia, Australia has proved to be the most popular
destination, with more than a third (35%) of this group having travelled to
Australia last year alone. Meanwhile, almost one in five (19%) visited New
Zealand. And while the comfort of a package has seen this type of holiday
remain the number one way to travel, three in ten (30%) having opted for a
package in the past year, the Chinese middle classes are also pioneering the
concept of the "independent" holiday, almost a fifth (17%) having travelled to
Australia this way last year.
Paul French, chief China market strategist at Mintel, said:
"Australia has been growing in popularity for a number of reasons. It is
under nine hours of flying time, so less than Europe. There are also an
abundance of luxury brands, casinos are plentiful and visa procurement for
Chinese visitors there is easier. Right now the vast bulk of Chinese tourists
arriving in Australia are on group tours-low cost packages with the bulk of any
profits remaining in China with the travel agents, meaning that it's up to
tourism service suppliers in Australia to extract the cash."
But it is not just Australasia which is proving popular. Europe is the next
most popular region, with as many as 37% of consumers holidaying there last
year. France tops the list with a quarter (25%) of the Chinese middle classes
choosing France as their destination of choice, while the UK is a close second
at 22%. Meanwhile, a third (32%) of the Chinese middle class travelled to North
America last year. And the appeal for overseas items is clear as just 6% say
they have not purchased any luxury items while travelling outside of China,
highlighting the cache for brands in international markets.
The research also reveals that just 5% of the Chinese middle class are not
intending to buy any luxury item in the next year and the importance of luxury
goods is highlighted by the segments the Chinese middle classes intend to
invest in over the coming year. A massive 67% intend to invest in luxury
clothes, 60% in clothes and footwear, 58% in jewelry and watches and 45% on
electronics. A further 28% state that they intend to purchase luxury furniture
and home appliances, a fifth (21%) into cars and motorcycles and 14% to
purchase luxury branded pens.
"The global spending power of Chinese consumers has become the stuff of new
legend. Chinese travelling overseas to spend and 'arbitrage' purchases,
particularly on items that attract high taxes at home such as luxury goods, has
become a new theme of global retail and consumption," adds Paul.
Indeed, China's emergent middle class is gadget and technology crazy and
can afford to be. Today, 96% of those defined as middle class own a computer
and 90% own a digital or video camera. Desktop Computers (88%), HD TV (83%) and
DVD Players (70%) make up the remaining top five gadgets owned. While the
lowest ownership levels rated were for 3D TV-around one in four (26%) Chinese
middle class consumers own one-and a noteworthy 0% of those surveyed claimed to
not own any of the gadgets listed. However, the big revolution in China is
smartphones with 97% adoption amongst the middle classes.
China's electronic appliances market, both brown and white goods, has also
boomed in recent years and the number buying appliances in the last three
months indicates why (39% for brown goods* and 42% for white goods**). The
middle class desire to own gadgets is also shown in the response that over half
(53%) of the middle class are planning to buy some form of brown goods in the
next three months, while 43% plan to buy a white good over the same three month
period. And while in the past credit was a hurdle for retailers to overcome to
encourage spending, according to Mintel's research 43% of Chinese middle class
consumers have one card and 52% more than one.
In 2012, middle income (those consumers who are urban, invariably white
collar workers and have a household income of between approximately
US$9,000-US$30,000) households constituted fully 13.4% of total urban
households in China, or approximately 30 million households or approximately
100 million people.
*Brown goods include televisions, PCs and game consoles.
**White goods include washing machines, fridges.
CONTACT: Jennifer Ballard