Last year 2.2 million Chinese travelers visited the U.S. with 1.4 million of them on repeat trips.
For many of them shopping is the main draw for visiting and they certainly come bearing cash and forgo luxurious accommodations in favor of their shopping budgets.
That’s why publisher i2i Group China launched Galerie, a print magazine created specifically for Chinese travelers visiting the U.S. on return trips to entice them to shop during their trip, and to tell them where to do it. The magazine only aims to reach repeat travelers to the U.S. who aren’t part of tour groups. Tour groups, the publisher feels, limit travelers’ freedom to buy what they really want and seek out their desired products on their own when repeat travelers are less likely to be part of a tour and have a stronger sense of independence.
Galerie’s first issue will debut in November and publish four times per year, distributing 400,000 copies across China, with 80,000 copies per issue placed at Citic Banks throughout the country. These are locations where travelers apply for visas to the U.S. and Citic is one of the largest banks in China. Chinese travel agencies catering mainly to independent travel will get the remaining copies.
The magazine will also have a WeChat companion platform that will become the main driver to the magazine’s online component, which includes information about where different dialects of Chinese are spoken and content explaining what makes different products unique and worth purchasing. Galerie estimates it will reach less than half of repeat Chinese travelers (640,000) using the print magazine and WeChat model.
Now that Chinese travelers can apply for 10 year visas good for multiple return trips to the U.S., Galerie has one chance to get copies in travelers’ hands so that they can download QR codes, which are more popular in China than other parts of the world, or opt-in for notifications to receive magazine content on WeChat. These travelers probably won’t receive any further print issues beyond the first one handed to them at the bank, unless they happen to be Citic customers and visit the banks or happen to use one of the travel agencies where the magazine is available. This is why WeChat is critical to Galerie reaching travelers when they’re planning subsequent U.S. trips.
“Something like 30% of Chinese are using WeChat for their email, so it’s the perfect place for us to go to target these travelers,” said Doug Gollan, a consultant for the magazine.
There’s no marketing campaign for the magazine beyond its presence in the banks and travel agencies and Gollan couldn’t comment on which major U.S. retailers have placed ads in the first issue.
While many Chinese travelers will never learn about Galerie and the number who it’s actually meant for might not engage with it as much as it hopes, it’s still symbolic of how valued Chinese travelers are for their shopping behavior and how brands can’t get their attentions soon enough.