While there have been many reports of Chinese luxury shoppers looking beyond top mega-brands toward lesser-known niche labels, Chinese travelers in France still look forward to snapping up Louis Vuitton goods more than they do for any other brand, according to a new report.
In a joint study of more than 1.1 million Chinese social media entries, luxury digital communications firm Velvet and technology company 6Estates analyzed the topics being talked about the most among Chinese travelers between October 1, 2015 and April 30, 2016. Pinpointing outbound Chinese tourists’ favorite destinations, shopping centers, and luxury brands while traveling, the report listed Louis Vuitton as the brand with the most posts about it among Chinese travelers in France, followed by Dior in second place and Chanel in third.
Galeries Lafayette is a top hotspot for picking up Louis Vuitton items, as it was listed in 55.9 percent of all posts mentioning a shopping center in association with the brand. This helped propel the department store to be the most-mentioned French shopping center on Chinese social media, coming in ahead of Avenue de Champs-Élysées, Printemps, TATI, and Place Vendôme, respectively. Galeries Lafayette also took up more than half of the mentions related to Dior (54.5 percent) and Chanel (56.3 percent), with Printemps coming in second place for all three brands.
Louis Vuitton’s massive popularity is a double-edged sword, however—the brand also received the most mentions associated with daigou shopping in France, meaning that many buyers are using social media to sell items bought in France and smuggled into China to avoid tariffs. While daigou is a major source of sales for luxury brands in Europe, companies prefer that customers buy items directly from stores in order to avoid the shaky customer service, cheaper brand image, and counterfeit scams associated with the process. Chanel, which has adjusted its China prices to become almost equivalent with those in Europe, was the second most popular brand for daigou in France, followed by Harry Winston, Cartier, and Givenchy.
In addition to luxury shopping, Chinese travelers to France are also interested in posting about the tourist attractions they’re visiting as well as current events. The iconic Eiffel Tower comes in at second place after the Seine as the spot they’re posting about the most, with the Louvre, Notre Dame, and Versailles rounding out the top five. Paris Fashion Week is also a popular topic of discussion, with Chinese users especially interested in commenting about Chinese celebrities attending the fashion shows—Yang Mi, Cecilia Liu, and Chris Lee were among those discussed in recent seasons.
Not all the mentions of France were associated with positive news. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels were a major subject of discussion on Chinese social media, and have resulted in declines in Chinese tourism to Europe. After the November Paris attacks, the hashtag #prayforparis that spread globally was posted frequently on Chinese social media, while Chinese travelers who found themselves in Paris during the attacks posted #IAmSafeInParis (#我在巴黎我平安#). Although France has lost Chinese visitors as a result, the report notes that it’s still a massively popular destination as China remains its biggest source country for visitors.