Chinese consumers have different requirements from what most international companies are used to. Gambling hotspot Macau is a clear illustration, says branding expert Shaun Rein, where an imitation of Las Vegas fell flat, he tells in Forbes, although it is a must go for mainland tourists, they miss a lot of business.
China Market Research Group founder Shaun Rein is one of the foremost authorities on mainland consumer tastes and trends. His new book, The End of Copycat China, looks at how Chinese companies have been driven to innovate now that low-hanging fruit of the past two decades has been picked bare. (For those who contend Chinese companies can’t innovate, ever heard of Alibaba?) The book also looks at mainland consumer dynamics helping drive innovation, building on the portrait of consumer trends in Rein’s 2012 book, The End of Cheap China.
“Our research suggests that Macau is a must stop for all Chinese travelers and that outbound Chinese travel will continue to rise 15-to-20% a year for the next five years,” Rein, an American living in China since the 1990s, says. “There are easily 50 million Chinese who could visit Macau this year and be important gamblers.”
Mainland arrivals to Macau last year were 18.6 million, 63.5% of the 29.3 million in total arrivals. Many of those mainland arrivals are the same people making several trips. So by Rein’s reckoning, Macau is capturing a small fraction of the potential players from its key market, including those coveted premier mass tier players and the burgeoning middle class driving outbound growth figures. After a recent visit to Macau, he outlined reasons Macau may be missing out on a large chunk of mainland travelers.
“The casinos need to expand their offerings outside of gambling in order to attract families,” Rein says. “Specifically, casino [resorts] need to cater to women and children with exhibits, dining, amusement parks, shopping so that they can have fun while husbands are gambling. The current offerings targeting children, like those on the Cotai Strip, are not good enough.”
Shopping is one area where Macau remains too male oriented. “The retail component is critical for Macau to remain competitive, but the mix needs to move away from just luxury that targets male consumers and the typical standard brands of Louis Vuitton and Gucci,” Rein says. ”Newer niche brands targeting female consumers like Tory Burch or Michael Kors need to be given better locations to make Macau more appealing to family trips or just-the-girls trips.”
There’s a further female issue where Macau can do better. “The casinos also need to be more friendly when stopping women at entrances,” Rein says. “They are not all hookers.”
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