Selling Shoes To  in the UK and Beyond

By Rocky Chi,

Head of Content and Insight at Emerging Communication W

hether in mainland China or as visitors to the UK, the new generation of wealthy Chinese buyers of premium shoes have

rejected traditional iconic luxury brands as they seek alternatives featuring classic British design.

The popularity in China of film and TV productions such as Downton

Abbey and Kingsman have had a significant impact on buying trends at a time when the number of Chinese tourists coming to the UK has never been higher.

In the last two years in the UK spending on clothes, shoes and accessories

by visitors from China has risen by 50 per cent as the annual number of visas issued to Chinese nationals has broken the half million mark, according to tax refund company Global Blue and the Home Office.

However, shoe stores and brands are far from making the most of Chinese

tourists, or of opportunities to sell directly into China via e-commerce. Brands and retailers are failing to communicate with the Millennials who now dominate the Chinese luxury market, despite the demographic’s almost insatiable desire to become trend leaders by acquiring brands and designs that are not widely known in China.

Chinese Millennials travel to the UK independently rather than in the

groups that prevailed a decade ago. They plan shopping in advance of leaving home, and they do not want what to buy what they consider to be the old fashioned premium labels their parents sought. They seek out new brands and sellers of high quality ‘edgy’, yet classically British influenced designs they can make their own, buy in large quantities, and showcase purchases on Chinese social media.

What Millennials look for is craftsmanship and a story that generates individuality through purchases that are made. When they find what they like it is an important part of the buying experience to highlight purchases on social media. This not only includes product pictures and information, but also includes details of the retailer. Showing off buying experiences makes customers exceptional brand ambassadors that drive store traffic, be it to outlets in the UK, China or on the web.

From the perspective of retailers and brands to that are new to the

Chinese market there is good news. Because Millennials seek something different it means being new is an advantage, not a handicap. What is more, there are relatively simple ways to connect with Chinese consumers quickly and effectively, and it is done through social media.

Influence on Millennials comes in two forms. Peer posts, and Key Opinion

Leader (KOL) comments. The latter are individual product specific authority figures that specialise in knowledge of often quite narrowly defined consumer areas. Some have followers in the millions, and what they say can make or break a brand.


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