Heathrow capitalises on Chinese New Year

By Kevin Rozario |

Chinese passengers will be in the spotlight at London Heathrow as the airport tries to drive up their spending in the days leading up to Chinese New Year on 10 February.


The number of Chinese travelling to London as the Year of the Snake approaches, and throughout this major national holiday, is expected to rise and, given that they represent 0.7% of passenger volume but around 25% of luxury spending at the airport, they are a key target.


In the nine months to September, Heathrow’s duty and tax-free and airside specialist shops continued to see increases in the average spend of passengers (up +4.8% to £6.04 (from 2011’s £5.76) driven, the airport says, “by factors including an increased proportion of higher spending non-EU passengers, the major refurbishment of Terminal 3’s airside specialist shops and the new walk-through area in the World Duty Free store in Terminal 3”.


In airside specialist shops, trading was particularly buoyant in the luxury and fashion segments which are sought after by the Chinese.


Preparations for Chinese New Year include leaflets in Mandarin for navigation through the terminal complete with retail offers, dedicated Mandarin-speaking customer service staff who are also well versed in the products that typically appeal to Chinese passengers, plus experiences such as traditional Chinese music, dragon dancing, festive foods sampling of dim sum and fortune cookies, and taster classes in the art of ‘Zhezhi’ allowing passengers to create paper designs as a souvenir of their journey.



Insights into the purchasing behaviour of Chinese passengers show that they respond particularly well to leaflets and spend a significant amount of time online planning their shopping experience in advance.


According to the airport, Chinese passengers “are keen to purchase the ‘best of British’ on UK soil enabling them to have access to the full cultural experience of the brand” which benefits companies like Burberry and Mulberry. Luxury watches also perform well says the airport,


Muriel Zingraff (right), Retail Director at Heathrow, says: “While Chinese passengers represent a relatively small proportion of our total passenger volume, these customers are extremely important to us and have very definite ideas about their luxury brand experience.”


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