Chinese tourists that traveled abroad and enjoyed foreign cuisine & culture are expecting to find imported products that can remind them of their trip.

Rising number of Chinese tourists

In 2015, over 70 million Chinese travelers went abroad, with an average of 1.5 trips by person, representing a total of $104.5 billion spent overseas, this is an increase of 16% compared to the previous year. The reasons behind this trend are the increases in personal income, the need for “family togetherness”, relaxed visa policies, appreciation of the Chinese renminbi and the increase in the number of available destinations.u=2918837582,1589390617&fm=21&gp=0 This year the slight economic slow-down of China and the devaluation of the Chinese yuan have bolstered market fluctuations. Although, the outbound Chinese tourists market does not seem to be affected as domestic income is rising and unemployment rates are remaining low. A McKinsley report ‘The Modernization of the Chinese Consumer’, identified cuisine and travel as the two top categories where Chinese tourists are most willing to spend.

Top destinations for Chinese tourists include other countries around Asia (incl. Australasia), Western Europe and North America. They reported the taste of authentic cuisine as being the most exciting travel experience. The tourist review website TripAdvisor has become the favored platform for trip planning. As the Chinese consumers are used to the retail rewards, discount and cash in return for reviewing, they are even more willing to rate foreign restaurants than their Western counterparts.

Opportunities for imported brands

The studies carried out by McKinsley indicated that Chinese tourists that are coming home from their travel abroad are often looking to have the same sort of tastes and cuisines they experienced overseas. This gives the importing food & beverage brands a real market opportunity, especially in first and second tier cities. These cities are well catered for in terms of international and western cuisine restaurants as well as high-end grocery stores that offer imported goods.u=2477521948,3835584291&fm=21&gp=0 In lower-tier cities international restaurants are scarce but the Chinese consumers can purchase these goods on ecommerce platforms such as Tmall grocery and Yihaodian. Furthermore, the Chinese market is currently going through strong transformations with a rising of middle-class, raising incomes, the booming of lower-tier cities and an increasing number of outbound Chinese tourists all leading to changing consumer habits. In addition, the number of available destinations is growing as well. All these factors will unveil new market possibilities for imported brands and companies.

5 top tips for imported-goods brands


  • Identify emotional needs. Understand the customer’s emotional connection to the product, and engage them with your brand though relevant communication strategies, use both offline and online channels to hook new consumers while keeping current ones.
  • Emphasize the country of origin. Identify the customer’s country of origin and culture which greatly impacts his purchasing behavior and attitude towards food and cuisine.
  • Identify unique processes and suggest recipes. Educate the customer on how the product is harvested, produced or sourced, utilize marketing content and packaging that will remind them of places they have visited during journey’s abroad. It might create a feeling of nostalgia and lead him to purchase.
  • Communicate high-quality ingredients. Chinese consumers are knowledgeable when it comes to product quality. Imported brands tend to have higher standards than local ones. Emphasize this point and assure them that the food you will provide them with will taste the same as the cuisine they experienced abroad.
  • Imported and differentiated packaging. A part of your package should be translated into Chinese, but not all of it. Make it appealing to the Chinese consumer, make it genuine so that the Chinese consumer knows that this product is imported rather than shipped from abroad and simply repackaged.