Chinese millennials are now seen as a lucrative market for global businesses. (Photo : Getty Images)
The continued rise in the number of Chinese traveling overseas has created a huge opportunity for luggage makers in the country, making China the world's largest luggage market, China Daily reported.
Data from Euromonitor International showed that retail sales jumped 8 percent and hit 30.9 billion yuan ($4.48 billion) last year when nearly 120 million Chinese traveled overseas.
According to the report, the Chinese traveler also changed the way he looks at luggage as simply a box of personal stuff. It is now treated as a statement of style, personal taste, fashion and status.
Taking advantage of this, manufacturers, including luxury luggage brands, make large, durable and stylish luggage.
Manufacturers also create many trendy and smart suitcase types as the demand for high-end and diversified luggage products increased, Neil Wang, head of market research agency Frost & Sullivan Greater China, said.
"There are some smart designs with GPS built into the suitcase to prevent the risk of loss. Another high-tech suitcase made by an Israeli company can follow the owner and roll by itself, avoiding obstacles," Wang said.
"Other smart features include control of the switch lock through mobile phones. Some suitcases can automatically weigh themselves. Other suitcases are equipped with USB ports inside," he added.
Retailers are optimistic about the growth prospects in the luggage market.
Luggage market sales
But among all the bag and luggage categories in China, the travel luggage segment posted the highest growth of 8 percent last year, the report said.
Euromonitor said that average price of bags and luggage also increased last year while more consumers upgraded from unbranded to branded products.
More Chinese consumers also prefer hard-case luggage for its strength and durability, the report said.
"Consumers are no longer taking luggage just as traveling tools. More Chinese travelers take luggage as diversified and individualized accessories, and they choose luggage in line with their tastes," Charles Yong, general manager of Rimowa Far East Limited, said.
Large, lightweight and strong suitcases also became popular among Chinese travelers who want to shop abroad.
Other brands also became more aggressive to get bigger market share.
German luggage maker Rimowa, which makes aluminum luggage and was bought by LVMH, posted a strong growth in China last year. Together with Samsonite, Rimowa has taken up a quarter of the global market.
"This is our tenth year in the China market, which is still nascent. In second- and third-tier Chinese cities, there are a vast number of consumers that we can still discover. Meanwhile, we have launched online stores on Tmall and JD. We are also improving our marketing efforts through social media," Rimowa said.
The strong demand for luggage can be attributed to rising Chinese travel market in recent years. A report of Singapore's DBS Bank said domestic tourist trips have risen threefold from 1.2 billion yuan in 2005 to 4 billion yuan in 2015.
But the rate of luggage sales in China is low, compared to other countries. In 2015, the per capita expenditure on luggage in China was $2.9 a year, while Japan had a much lower expenditure at $32.3 and $24.8 in North America.
Luggage sales will continue to grow, especially in some Asian countries like China, India and South Korea, DBS said.