OSAKA – Department stores in the Kansai region are increasingly targeting potential visitors from China in their bid for a greater slice of tourist spending.
Some are hiring Chinese speakers, recording promotional videos and reaching out on social media. Their message: Hurry over, as these great bargains won’t last.
Hankyu Department Store’s main branch in the Osaka Umeda district promotes items on a Chinese-language blog on China’s Weibo network.
Yan Xue, a 30-year-old Chinese employee, takes photos of merchandise likely to be of interest to tourists and posts them on Weibo along with descriptions in Chinese. The postings are renewed every three days or so.
Potential customers are invited to submit inquiries, and they are told about the various price options or where in the store the items can be found.
This helps with planning a shopping tour. Yan says Chinese tourists tend to travel together in groups, and therefore they want to shop quickly and efficiently.
“It is very important for them that they do their homework on social media before coming to Japan and that they place their target items on their shopping lists,” Yan said.
Since last year, Takashimaya Department Store has been promoting featured merchandise at its Osaka and Kyoto branches in monthly videos on Chinese websites.
In a video shot in the conference room of the Osaka branch in mid-December, two Chinese women talked excitedly about the cheap prices as they displayed on a desk the contents of a fukubukuro lucky grab bag: a cashmere stole, thermos and other items.
“If you don’t come for the first sale of the New Year on Jan. 2 it will all be gone! They’re very cheap!” one of them exclaimed.
The videos are about five minutes long and have been uploaded to four sites. So far, each has had around 70,000 to 90,000 views.
“Many people prefer to shop in Japan even if the same goods are sold in China because they tend to be pricey over there and, in many cases, they are counterfeit,” said an employee of the Osaka store, which makes over 60 percent of its duty-free sales to Chinese customers.
Kintetsu Department Store’s main branch in Osaka has been promoting items on Facebook in Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as on a Chinese social networking site. It also provides tourist information about the surrounding area.