Three Chinese students from Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) have been working with Lakeland Leather to investigate Chinese tourism in the Lake District.
In the first of two studies, the Masters’ students carried out their research as part of their dissertation project. As a celebrated tourist destination that welcomes millions of overseas visitors each year the Lake District provides insightful findings on tourism and retail.
Martin Foster, Managing Director of Lakeland Leather, commented “Rose, Tiantian and Irene presented many useful and detailed findings to us, some of which are particularly interesting to retailers.”
The LUMS students collected data through observation and from questionnaires in the Lakeland Leather Bowness-On-Windermere store and around Bowness town. There were 122 international respondents in total: 89% Chinese, 8% American and 3% Australian.
The phrase “local culture” was a recurrent theme throughout the research findings with over half of respondents indicating they would be most attracted to a store that showcases local culture.
International tourists further highlighted that translation and miscommunication is an issue which leads to confusion about promotional messages instore and pricing.
The students explained that in China promotional messaging is written the opposite to the UK; “30% off” in the UK would read “Pay 70%” in China.
With no additional instore translation this is often confusing and may be a barrier to purchase which creates the need for translation services or a staff member who speaks Chinese.
Other surprising cultural retail differences include the way in which Chinese tourists shop. The observation carried out by the students found that Chinese tourists navigated the store clockwise, as opposed to the majority of shoppers who looped anti-clockwise.
Fiona Wright, Head of Retail at Lakeland Leather, said: “This gives us something to think about regarding the layout of our Lake District stores and how we position our promotional offers.”
Findings show that tourists want experiential shopping which incorporates learning about the brand story and heritage, where they can purchase items with a local connection that creates an emotional and memorable tie to the Lake District.
The students found that over half of tourists were visiting for the day, with over a quarter staying in Edinburgh and the same for Manchester. This creates time constraints for tourists with limited time to shop. An experiential shopping experience would increase time spent in store and help increase sales.
The LUMS students further highlighted that the most used social platforms by Chinese tourists are WeChat and Weibo which they use to research what to do when visiting the Lakes.
Martin said: “The student’s findings are useful to us and extremely beneficial in better understanding the way Chinese tourists shop. Hopefully we can make some impactful changes to create an easier and experiential shopping experience for all tourists to showcase our Lake District heritage.”