Chinese reporters shop till they drop in LA

Updated: 2014-04-22 06:55

By WANG JUN in Los Angeles (China Daily USA)

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Chinese reporters shop till they drop in LA

Four young Chinese women breezed into the Jo Malone boutique— a London perfume brand —at South Coast Plaza in Orange County, leaving everybody of the store surprised.

Chinese visitors usually don't ask about Jo Malone, a brand not in China yet.

The young women werereporters witha Chinese media group invited earlier this year by Visit California, California's tourism authority, to discover Southern California travel destinations — theme parks, beaches and shopping — especially shopping.

The reporters had done their homework before arriving with the media delegation. "Jo Malone is not in China yet," Stephanie Zhou, public relations manager of Visit California said, "but it's already very popular within the fashion savvy community."

Talking about perfume, Yang Yang, a writer with the Global Times, shared her two favorite buys — Victoria's Secret and Coco Chanel perfume. "The two Victoria's Secret items are for my sister. I love my Coco Chanel. I bought it here for about $50to$70 less than its price in China."

"I also love American brand boots — their simple but sophisticated designs. But because of our tight schedule, I didn't have much time to shop for them," she said. "My shopping principle is if the item is cheap but I may not wear it, it's better to invest some more and buy something durable and with good quality and high taste."

Tong Yu, 24, editor of travel channel, said, "I love Jo Malone, but I can't compare prices because it's not available in China. I also like Roger Vivier,but the price is not much better in the US, so I didn't get them."

At Macy's, to welcome the media delegation, Brian Chuan, director of tourism marketing and development,gave everyone a gift bag with a 10 percent off discount card in simplified Chinese.

According to an AC Nielsen report, the average consumption by Chinese tourists in the US reached $7,000 per person, which accounts for 40 percent of their total travel expense. About two-thirds of Chinese tourists purchase luxury goods overseas, mostly perfume, cosmetics, leather goods and jewelry. About 75 percent of Chinese tourists buy more than three luxury items each trip. By 2015, China is expected to become the world's second largest luxury goods market.

"Carlsbad Premium Outlets is not as sophisticated as Macy's. It's more pragmatic," said Yang Yang. "My colleague asked me to buy him a suitcase between $167 and $333. I searched and found an $83 one. It's really not easy to spend more. Basically they're all cheap."

"The prices are very reasonable," said Lei Pan, a writer with the Beijing Evening News. "Things are neatly placed and presented. No matter how big the discount is, customers are allowed to try them on. It makes me feel very welcomed shopping here."

"It's only $92 for the Estee Lauder little brown bottle duo (lotion and eye cream), which is about $250 in China," cartoonistVivi Ling said about her favorite item. In addition, she grabbed Benefit, Clinic, Origins, more Estee Lauder collections and Michael Kors bags at Carlsbad.

Collen Conklin, senior vice president of marketing with Premium Outlets, said in addition to receiving tour groups, they are increasingly seeing independent travelers that come in small groups of families and friends.

In terms of brands, "We observe that our Chinese shoppers love luxury and American brands. Coach, Kate Spade New York, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger are among some of the most popular," Conklin said. "The Polo Ralph Lauren store at Desert Hills Premium Outlets uses iPads with images of their products and translation software to help bridge the language barrier and assist in locating merchandise."

Chinese tourists shop not only for themselves, but for family and friends back in China. That's why Chinese tourists are top spenders among the world.

"The Estee Lauder night cream, eye cream and day cream are for myself; the Clinic and Estee Lauder collections are for my friends," said Lei.

"The Jo Malone perfume and Fresh items are for me, the Estee Lauder, bags and Victoria's Secret are for my family and friends," Yu said. "The US is a shopping paradise, no exaggeration at all. Basically you can find everything at very reasonable prices, sometimes with a lot of free gifts."

"Be sure to check websites to see store-by-store promotions and sign up for the VIP Shopper Club online to earn even greater discounts," Conklin suggested. "Many premium outlet centers offer currency exchange and lockers to store purchases or packages while shopping."

"No matter where you shop, sales associates are all very nice," Ling said. "After greeting the guests, they don't bother you and only come over to help when you need their service. Shopping in the US is highly comfortable."