The study polled inbound travelers to the US who had visited within the past twelve months on their overall itineraries and specifically on their shopping plans.
The initial findings detail key trends amongst the Top 5 emerging/growth markets as identified by the DOC including visitors from Australia, Brazil, China, India, and Korea where DOC projects arrivals growth from 15 percent to 40 percent within the next three years.
The study conducted amongst 2,500 respondents from August through October 2010, finds that travelers from these markets spend on average $3,517 on their trip to the U.S. with one-third of that spent on shopping.
A surprising result for researchers was the purpose of visits to the U.S., an overwhelming majority of respondents, 71 percent, arrived to visit friends and family, while only 24 percent visited for pleasure/holiday or for other personal reasons, the traditional indicators of a visit to the U.S. by foreign tourists.
"Shopping has always been one of the top activities of international travelers. From this study, we know more about the upper income shoppers who visit the country.
By understanding these travelers, the industry should be able to improve its approach to this lucrative segment to expand exports for the U.S.," said Helen N. Marano, Director of the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, U.S. Department of Commerce.
Shopping is a key driver for these travelers in their choice of the U.S. as a destination, with a majority (56%) saying shopping was the key reason they took the trip or it helped them choose among destinations. In addition, these travelers purchased more than the twice the amount they had planned to purchase while shopping in the U.S.
"Shopping continues to be an important travel motivator due to the selection and value found throughout the U.S. along with tourism marketing programs and incentives that serve to increase visitor spending and economic impact," said Rosemary McCormick, President, Shop America Alliance.
Additional Key Findings:
Key Activities: Most popular activities include shopping, visiting amusement, national and state parks followed by visiting museums, zoos and aquariums, unique dining experiences, concerts and theaters, as well as spa services and gambling. In addition, almost half of Chinese travelers looked at real estate during their visit.
Brand Awareness Asked to choose among a variety of top U.S. brands, travelers choose McDonald's as the most recognized American brand.
Top Retailer: Among department stores they were asked about, Macy's ranked highest in brand awareness, followed by JC Penney.
Top U.S. Retail Brands: Levi's, Ralph Lauren, and Diesel are among the top brands these travelers from emerging markets say they shopped for in the U.S.
What are they buying: Apparel is the top purchase for these visitors. Travelers from all of these growth markets except India purchased about twice as much in women's and men's apparel than they planned.
A surprising result included the high choice of Food and candy as a top product purchased while in the US, with 42% shopping for these items during their visit.
While toys are not on the top ten list of items planned to purchase, a quarter of all travelers say they purchased toys on their most recent trip to the U.S.
Use of Technology:
Just over three quarters (76%) of travelers from these markets bring two or more electronic devices on their trip to the U.S. and slightly more than half (51%) carry a smart phone such as iPhone or BlackBerry.
During their trip, texting was the most used feature followed by electronic maps. In addition, 10% of all travelers access social media sites with their smart phones.
According to Laura Mandala, travel industry consultant and former executive with the U.S. Travel Association, "The findings support the thesis that travel barriers to the U.S. should be eliminated in order for the economy to benefit from the infusion these travelers can have on the U.S. marketplace." Additional sponsors of the research include: The U.S. Travel Association, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors' Authority, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors' Bureau, Capital Region USA., California Travel & Tourism Commission, Carlson Hotels, US Cultural and Heritage Tourism Marketing Council, The University of Florida, and the Museum Store Association.
The White Paper with an executive summary of the findings will be available January, 2011.
The report of findings will be available at ShopAmericaTours.com, USCHT.com and MandalaResearch.com
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