Chinese couples spend big in Korea

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Chinese couples spend big in Korea

Korea is becoming a major destination for young Chinese couples looking to splurge on expensive items for their upcoming marriages.

Chen Yi, 34, and Chai Xuefang, 30, who recently visited Seoul from Shandong province, China, are typical of the growing number of couples who are sparing no expense to make their big day special.

The two bought two Vacheron Constantin wristwatches worth 100 million won ($84,350) each at the Hyundai Department Store in Apgujeong, southern Seoul. They also bought a two-carat diamond ring for 60 million won.

“A lots of Koreans are preparing for their weddings at Cheongdam-dong [near Apgujeong in the posh Gangnam District],” said soon-to-be-wed Chai. “We plan to get wedding consulting [here in Seoul] exclusively for Chinese people.”

Another Chinese couple, Yang Xiaoliang, 30, and his fiance Xu Jingjing, 27, last month bought a 10 million won Thom Browne suit for men and two Rolex wristwatches for the couple worth 150 million won each at the same Hyundai Department Store in Apgujeong. They purchased the items ahead of a wedding photo shoot at a studio in Cheongdam-dong.

The Korean retail and hotel industry is taking notice of the growing number of Chinese couples who are spending big in Seoul to prepare for their weddings.

They have become major customers who are spending large on high-end wedding gifts, including jewelry, wristwatches and designer suits and dresses. Majors stores are already catering to the growing demand.

Hyundai Department Store’s Apgujeong branch plans to provide a wedding consulting program exclusively for Chinese couples, and have already enhanced other services for young Chinese customers. Since last month, they have provided a free delivery service where electronic appliances and furniture purchased by Chinese couples can be dropped off at their front door in China. The service has a limit of 30 kilograms (66 pounds) per person.

Lotte Duty Free recently started a service where items purchased at its shops can be delivered from the Chinese airport to their homes.

“We get a lot of inquires from Chinese tourists who come to Gangnam [District] to get wedding consulting,” said Lee Hyun-sook, a foreigner-exclusive concierge at Hyundai Department Store. “They shop after asking every detail, such as which brand Koreans most prefer for their own wedding gifts.”

China Union Pay credit card purchases made by Chinese on imported brands such as Tiffany’s and Cartier soared 91.3 percent in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period last year at Hyundai Department Store. Purchases on furniture, electronic appliances and household goods saw a huge growth of 134.1
percent.

Shinsegae Group is widening its marketing strategy to attract soon-to-wed Chinese couples in its department stores and other major affiliates, including its discount store E-Mart and its hotel business Westin Chosun.

Shinsegae Group invited two couples from Shenyang and Tianjin to Seoul, where they will get a wedding photo taken at the Cheongnam-dong studio that took wedding pictures for famous Korean actresses Jun Ji-hyun. They will also get the chance to experience a traditional Korean wedding ceremony at the Westin Chosun Hotel and shopping at E-Mart and the retail group’s other outlets. The cost is 15 million won per person.

“We plan to secure the lead in grabbing Chinese couples visiting Korea to get wedding services during the most popular wedding seasons for the Chinese, which starts this month and leads up to the end of the year,” said Shinsegae CEO Jang Jae-young.

Wedding gifts, including high-end wristwatches, jewelry and designer bags, accounted for 60 percent of all sales made by Chinese tourists at Shinsegae Department Store during China’s May Day, from April 25 to May 3.

Hotels are also recognizing the growing trend.

Plaza Hotel last month introduced a wedding package where a hopeful groom can make a proposal at the hotel’s restaurant.

The package includes a studio wedding photo shoot that comes with makeup from a company that many Korean female celebrities like Han Ye-seul and Han Hyo-joo frequently use. The price tag on the three-day package is 7 million won including flight tickets.

Lotte Hotel is offering a package targeted at Chinese customers that includes not only the wedding photo and makeup but also a proposal ceremony and spa. The cost for the three-day program is 11.8 million won.


BY KOO HUI-LYUNG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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