Beauty and alcohol drive booming sales on Hainan Island, says m1nd-set

By Charlotte Turner |

According to m1nd-set’s latest research, nearly all visitors to Hainan Island said they visited a duty free shop, with more than seven out of ten visitors actually making a purchase.


The research, which is part of an ongoing and frequently updated series of research reports dedicated to shopper behaviour on China’s ‘duty free paradise’ of Hainan Island, was conducted over recent weeks among Chinese consumers who have travelled to or who live in Hainan Province.


The research provides a long-term picture with projected traffic growth as well as sales forecasts, and analyses both the travelling and shopping behaviour of domestic Chinese tourists who have visited Hainan.


The m1nd-set research also highlights the positive outlook for sales given the competitive pricing policy adopted by duty free retailers on the island. Hainan’s duty free retailers are offering discounts of up to 50% compared to the prices on leading e-commerce sites, which means sales are inevitably set to see healthy growth in the coming years.


From the research conducted recently, m1nd-set reveals that footfall is highest in the beauty category (55%). The alcohol category, fuelled by Cognac sales, is also popular among Chinese travellers to Hainan with 33% of travellers visiting the category.


M1nd-set reports that while second in terms of footfall after beauty, conversion in the alcohol category is strongest – at 93% – compared to 70% for beauty, making it the second most purchased category among Chinese visitors (31% vs 38.5% for beauty).


The research also reveals that watches & jewellery claims the highest spend among all categories at over US$960. An average of US$765 is spent on beauty products by Chinese travellers in Hainan, while US$523 is spent on accessories, US$512 on fashion and US$466 on alcohol.


Tier 1 city residents and middle-aged shoppers are among the top spenders, both of which spend above average when in Hainan, m1nd-set reports.


There are significant opportunities for brands to win over Chinese shoppers looking for novelty when in Hainan, according to m1nd-set, given the high propensity to purchase new brands or products.


Sixty-eight percent of Chinese tourists visiting Hainan’s duty free shops said they were open to buying a brand or product they had never purchased before. The research details the purchasing behaviour for new products and brands on an individual category level.


Other essential data revealed in the research includes the impact of certain touch points as purchase drivers, such as peers – family and friends – as well as sales associates, billboards, digital screens and online branding.


According to m1nd-set, there are significant opportunities for brands to reach Chinese tourists both before travelling as well as while in Hainan.

China Duty Free Group's Duty Free Shopping Complex in Sanya has benefitted from strong footfall during the pandemic as Chinese travellers have descended on Hainan for their vacations.

China Duty Free Group’s Duty Free Shopping Complex in Sanya has benefitted from strong footfall during the pandemic as Chinese travellers have descended on Hainan for their holidays.


M1nd-set owner and CEO Peter Mohn explained: “As well as focusing on shopping behaviour in the research, we also take a deep dive into how Chinese tourists plan their travel to Hainan – how they book, where they stay, what other activities they engage in when visiting the island.


“This enables us to help brands determine where best to reach their specific target segment. While large hotel group websites and airlines sites are heavily used by Chinese travellers booking their stay on the island, we also see a significant percentage booking their travel, accommodation and activities via sites such as Ctrip and opting to stay in smaller boutique hotels.


“We are seeing a growing number of partners seeking this type of information on a detailed segment level to optimise their pre-travel marketing to the Chinese shopper heading to Hainan.”


“With the increase in allowances, we also see a growing potential to reach Chinese shoppers who have not spent their full allowance while in Hainan” Mohn continued. “Our research analyses the level of allowances used – both in terms of volumes for liquor and tobacco or by dollar amount.


“Brands are using this information to reach travellers who have yet to benefit from their full allowance through post-trip marketing for online duty free shopping also. “This is increasingly frequent, especially since the government increased the duty free allowance in Hainan in 2020” Mohn concluded.


An updated and detailed report on the domestic Chinese traveller in Hainan and their Duty Free Shopping behaviour will be revealed, among other research, during the inaugural Travel Retail Consumer Forum at the Hilton London Paddington Hotel on 20-22 September.


The event, co-organised by m1nd-set and TRBusiness, is the first and only industry conference which places the consumer at the heart of the entire agenda. The Chinese consumer, in particular domestic travellers and their shopping behaviour when in Hainan, will be a core focus during the two-day conference.

Registrations for the conference are open and the Early Bird rate is available until 31 August. You can read more about the inaugural Travel Retail Consumer Forum agenda on the event website:


For more information on this Hainan focus or m1nd-set’s post-Covid recovery research, please contact m1nd-set: [email protected].


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