The Chinese Millennial luxury shopper

Discover more about the Chinese luxury shopper in our full China payments guide.

Quick read:

The Chinese Millennial is “the most important demographic in the world today.” They are educated, mobile-centric and prolific spenders.

Chinese Millennials start the brand-discovery journey long before entering your store, and it’s important to engage with them online via channels like WeChat and Weibo. They know what they like and are experience-driven, so you need to offer powerful incentives to bring them to your store.

Make sure you support their preferred payment methods: Alipay, WeChat Pay and UnionPay, and provide a unified experience across every touch point. You can do this by connecting online and offline channels and providing personalized experiences that promote luxury every step of the way.

Discover more about the Chinese luxury shopper in our full China payments guide.

The Golden opportunity

In the first week of October, cash desks from London to Sydney rang out with purchases from Chinese shoppers during the Golden Week rush.

Chinese Millennials are the biggest luxury shoppers in Asia-Pacific.

This seven-day national holiday is an international phenomenon, with millions of Chinese heading overseas to visit friends, see the world, and shop. In 2016, six million Chinese traveled abroad, spending $7.2+ billion along the way. And, while the rise of the Chinese shopper is nothing new, a new demographic is taking over.

The Chinese Millennial is “the most important demographic in the world today ” according to Goldman Sachs. They make up around 2/3 of Chinese tourists, and Mastercard reports that Chinese Millennials are the biggest luxury shoppers in Asia-Pacific.

Who is this Millennial Chinese luxury shopper?

At a glance:

This is the generation of one-child families. Many benefit from the support of parents and two sets of grandparents to help with education costs, eliminating student debt. And 70% own their own homes outright, removing the burden of monthly mortgage repayments. Consequently, they have money to spend.

Many have studied abroad, making them more outward-focused than previous generations. They are confident to travel overseas and seek authentic experiences over ‘bucket-list’ tourism.

Shopping needs to be immersive.

And shopping is on the agenda.

About two-thirds of Chinese Millennials prefer Western to Asian brands. Unlike previous generations, Chinese Millennials aren't interested in stockpiling iconic labels. These shoppers are experience-driven, and shopping needs to be immersive. They want to see, smell and touch the brand experience.

And mobile rules. Chinese Millennials conduct their entire lives from their smartphones - from networking, to paying utility bills. They are also extremely active on social media – even more than their Western counterparts.

Selling to Chinese Millennial shoppers

Don’t wait until the shopper is in store to start selling to Chinese Millennials. They tend to plan their trips before leaving home, researching brands online. So make sure the relationship begins early by engaging with them on social platforms like WeChat and Weibo.

Like all luxury shoppers, they want to feel special.

Once in store, welcome your shoppers with unique experiences. It isn't enough to dazzle them with labels; they want a shopping experience that feels true to the brand. And, like all luxury shoppers, they want to feel special.

Shopper recognition plays a key role. If you know your shopper before she walks into your store, you can provide a tailored service. This is easy to achieve if you connect your physical stores to your online channels. In that way you can track interactions on your website and social channels and build a clear view of your shopper before you meet her.

It’s crucial to get it right at point of payment too. Many assume Chinese shoppers abroad are happy to pay with international cards. But they’re fully aware of higher fees associated with foreign card networks, and increasingly expect a payment experience that accommodates their preferences.

Popular Chinese payment methods

The three leading payment methods that make up 70% of Chinese payments are Alipay, UnionPay and WeChat Pay.


With 520 million users, and 50% of the mobile market share, Alipay is China’s largest payment method and already present in 80,000 stores worldwide. The Adyen platform reveals that the average transaction value of Alipay is growing steadily, making it increasingly relevant for luxury retailers.

Alipay offers competitive FX rates, making it an attractive method for Chinese shoppers abroad. And, thanks to its extensive shopper insights, you can send hyper-targeted, location-based adverts via the Alipay app.

Adyen customers can accept Alipay in store in Europe and the U.S., with more regions to follow shortly. You can process everything on the same terminals and, since the flow is entirely in the hands of the shopper, no additional staff training is required.


UnionPay is the world’s largest card network. It has over 6 billion cards issued worldwide and is accepted in more than 125 markets.

Adyen gives you a direct connection to UnionPay at the point of sale in the U.S. and Europe. This increases the spending power of Chinese shoppers, who were previously restricted by the limits of co-branded cards, or the amount they can withdraw from ATMs. So you have wider acceptance, lower charges, and increased efficiency.

WeChat Pay

WeChat has 938 million monthly active users. Chinese Millennials use it to play games, send money, order food, read the news, shop, book a doctor’s appointment and do just about anything. Over half of WeChat users spend at least 90 minutes per day on the app, so it offers a huge opportunity to build strong relationships with your shoppers.

WeChat Pay is generating a lot of interest from luxury retail and travel businesses. Many of Adyen’s luxury retailers are now integrating WeChat Pay. And the Adyen platform shows that WeChat Pay average transaction value is also on the rise.

Make buying easy with unified commerce

Unified commerce puts your shopper in the driving seat: They can research and browse online, try items on in your store, and then complete payment using their mobile. By connecting the dots between your sales channels, you can make this journey frictionless.

Adyen lets you can take payments from Chinese shoppers, no matter where they are, or what device they are using. You can accept Chinese methods in store without having to install extra hardware or train staff on new processes. And you can see all payments across all channels in a single view, making it easy to build a deeper understanding of your Chinese shoppers and increase loyalty both at home and abroad.

Guide: Seizing the golden opportunity in China

To learn more about selling to Chinese shoppers, download our full China payments guide:

Sign up for the newsletter

By submitting this form, you acknowledge that you have reviewed the terms of our Privacy Statement and consent to the use of data in accordance therewith.

Are you looking for test card numbers?

Would you like to contact support?