Each year, I travel to Asia for auto parts trade shows and visits to various manufacturers. Because of this, I’ve brushed up on my Japanese and I’m trying my hand at Mandarin.
I’m used to seeing signs in Chinese characters in many places I visit, however, Las Vegas hasn’t typically been counted among them. I’d been reading about a particular outlet mall close to the Strip and during the recent AAPEX show, I took the opportunity to make a visit to see what this place is all about.
What I saw and heard made me do a double-take: The announcements blaring from speakers, for the most part, are in Chinese. Signs are in Chinese. Probably 70 percent of the clientele are Chinese. Nearly every store had Mandarin-speaking employees.
This mall has taken the idea of catering to its customers seriously. Need a credit card to buy all the stuff you want? Those signs are in Chinese, too.
Need some assistance emigrating to the U.S.? Again, Chinese characters on an attorney’s advertisement explain who to call in the Las Vegas area. Nearly every store’s sign was translated into Chinese.
Chinese shoppers are discriminating, too. They know what they want. They come in, buy it and move on. Many times, this is because they’re part of a tour group and have a limited amount of time to buy what they want.
Why are malls catering to Chinese tourists? Because they spend money, lots of it, by some estimates, up to 50 percent or more than other shoppers. In major cities around the U.S., outlet malls are catering to Chinese shoppers in many of the same ways.
Los Angeles Magazine recently recounted just how serious some shoppers are: A guest at the Four Seasons hotel there spent a week at the hotel for the sole purpose of buying a particular handbag. She couldn’t get it, and plans to return for an entire month to wait for one, the magazine reported.
One luggage store manager I talked to said Chinese shoppers often come into her store with specific bag measurements in mind. They want a bag that’s X number of inches in measurement, she said, and while brand is important, what’s more important is that the bag is large enough to pack everything they’ve bought that day and return home to China.
Catering to customers has never been more important. The choices for buyers in all industries have never been more plentiful. Knowing what your customers want and being able to communicate with them in their own language — whatever that language may be — is paramount.