I remember having a conversation not so long ago with a SA on a Japanese make up brands’ counter in Selfridges, where she told me that Chinese customers were great because they usually shopped in groups, and bought in force ‘without even asking the price’. As she was saying this, 3 young Chinese girls were jabbering on in Mandarin, in matching puffa jackets, and swatching nail polishes to their hearts content.
I looked around and thought; this place is full of Chinese people. Shopping. The Chanel counter. The Hermes counter. All young, noisy and loaded.
It’s no surprise then that Selfridges, Manchester, is working with The Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester to create a programme whereby staff learn basic language elements (like how to greet people and ask if they need help – good luck firing an answer back when they tell you what they want in Mandarin) and also elements of Chinese culture so they get an understanding of ‘consumer behaviours’.
They said ‘..we noticed an increasing number of Chinese visitors to the store – many of whom are students based in and around Manchester or tourists. We want to ensure they have the bet possible shopping experience with us so are reaching out to them by speaking to them in their own language and respecting their cultural traditions around shopping’.
Please; you don’t need no consumer experts to tell you how to create the dream shop for the young, rich, mainland Chinese students. It’s like when someone asks me about what cultural traditions I have around food, and I say, Just eat it. And eat it good.
So here is my [slightly tongue in cheek] guide on How to Appeal To Chinese Customers – and I won’t even send you an invoice.
1. Labels. Chinese people like labels – and the labels have to be relatively visible, otherwise, what’s the point?
2. Bargains. Chinese people like bargains and offers – that’s just the way it is. If you can offer a discount or a freebie, even if it is the most rubbish gift of all time (‘A Chanel wallet for you to hold your paracetemol in’) they’ll like it.
3. Cute. Chinese people like kinda cute stuff – nothing too grown up and serious. If it has Hello Kitty on it…then I might be persuaded.
4. Queues. Chinese people like to barge in front of other customers, and other Chinese people too. Therefore you must have enough staff to deal with the strays who act like they MUST HAVE that Chanel handbag RIGHT NOW.
5. Cold. Chinese people don’t like being cold (hence the puffa jackets). Make sure it’s warm but not sweaty warm because we don’t like stripping off either.
6. Noise. Chinese people make a lot of noise, especially in groups. My family once made so much noise in Morrisons that when they finally shut up, I had Tinnitus. Therefore, sound proof the walls, or just try not too look bemused when it seems like EVERYONE IS SHOUTING because they’re not..which brings me to another point…
7. Space. Concessions that Chinese people like to shop in require a lot of space. For some reason Chinese people congregate in groups, whether it’s students who link arms and refuse to let go of each other, or innocents like me – one moment I’m stood there, suddenly 5 relatives have appeared and are taking up a lot of room. Give us room to manoeuvre.
8. Food. A supply of free food is always handy even if it’s just a snack or two. Don’t bother with alcohol – most Chinese can’t handle their booze so make it something easy to put into our mouths like, Sushi. Mmm Sushi. No, I haven’t thought about this many times…free sushi whilst shopping in Chanel…hmmmm….
9. Take Card. And Cash. Don’t look scared when a Chinese person pulls out a big wad of cash – it’s just what a lot of people do, and of course you will check the notes but don’t stand there like an arsey cow, lifting each sheet to the light, because it’s a bit rude, and we could be here for a long time.
10. Don’t be Snobby. Just because lots of Chinese people dress like something out of a manga cartoon or wear plastic flip flops with Harmani T-shirts, it doesn’t mean they don’t have the cash. Don’t be snooty. The young Chinese students will just be doubly annoying back, and the ones like me will write a very, very stern letter.
Finally, language intentions are all meant well, I am sure but keep is simple unless you can hold a conversation. When someone randomly starts trying to speak Chinese to me, I think they are either
a. taking the pi*s or
b. has mistaken me for their Berlitz tutor.
And THOSE, are my pearls of wisdom this Tuesday.
What do you think about Selfridges hiring in Chinese cultural experts to increase sales (basically)?