Duty-Free Stores Embrace Younger Chinese Customers | Be Korea-savvy

Duty-Free Stores Embrace Younger Chinese Customers

Lotte Duty Free in downtown Seoul is crowded with shoppers on Oct. 2, 2016. (image: Yonhap)

Lotte Duty Free in downtown Seoul is crowded with shoppers on Oct. 2, 2016. (image: Yonhap)

SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Korea Bizwire) – Chinese travelers in their 20s and 30s have emerged as the key customers for South Korean duty-free stores as they are enticed by Korean pop culture and shopping experiences here, industry officials said Monday. 

Local duty-free shops in the past mostly generated revenue from middle-aged Chinese travelers who bought foreign luxury bags and watches, but now they are embracing younger Chinese who prefer Korean cosmetics and fashion brands on the back of a rising influx of young independent travelers over the past years. 

Hotel Shilla said that the 20s to 30s age group accounted for 76.5 percent of Chinese customers at its duty-free store in Seoul in the first nine months of this year, overwhelming those in their 40s and 50s which took up 21.7 percent.

Customers under the age of 40 only accounted for 34.1 percent in 2009, but their ratio has steadily risen to 53.4 in 2011, 60 percent in 2013 and 73.5 percent last year. Among them, the ratio of 20-something Chinese has skyrocketed from 3.6 percent in 2009 to 36 percent this year, in stark contrast to the slow growth of middle-aged customers, the duty-free operator said. 

“A growing number of younger Chinese who are fond of Korean pop culture are traveling here, changing the landscape of the duty-free market,” a company official said. 

Lotte Duty Free, the nation’s leading player, also said the ratio of Chinese aged under 40 reached 86 percent of the customer group at its duty-free stores in the first half of this year, while those in their 40s took up 13 percent.


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