5 Feb 2016
Platform for Venturing Overseas
Although a small place, Hong Kong is an important battleground for many internationally renowned brands. There is little difference between Hong Kong and overseas markets in terms of consumption pattern, and product sales and marketing. The Hong Kong market is therefore an excellent pilot testing ground for mainland enterprises before they venture overseas.
Hong Kong as a “window” for testing overseas markets
- The consumer market in Hong Kong is an important reference point for the Asia-Pacific region. Successful development of the Hong Kong market is like obtaining a certificate of achievement in quality, service and trendiness.
- Through competing with the many internationally renowned brands in Hong Kong, small and medium-sized enterprises can gain international marketing experience and learn through practice how to survive in the face of competition from leading brands.
- Mainland enterprises can communicate effectively in Hong Kong where language and culture are concerned. This gives them the chance of an easy and relaxed start.
Long-term benefits rather than immediate returns
- It takes time to develop a new market, and one must not give up halfway.
- The Hong Kong market serves as a showcase for consumers on the mainland as well as overseas Chinese living in foreign countries. Gaining confidence in selling goods and services to the Hong Kong market will help one develop other markets.
Important tips for gaining the confidence of local consumers:
- Localisation of marketing efforts: The preferences of Hong Kong consumers for products and services are similar to those of overseas consumers.
- Packaging and design should be tasteful and practical in order to appeal to Hong Kong consumers.
- Discount strategy: Enterprises may consider offering discounts initially in order to enter the market. Discounts are a good way to encourage consumers to buy the product or service and test out its quality.
- Enhancement of after-sales service: Hong Kong consumers attach great importance to after-sales service, especially for information and technology products. A brand that can impress consumers with its after-sales service will be able to gain recognition and reputation easily.
- Strict control of product quality: Only products that can truly meet the needs of consumers can earn good reviews from them. This will have an influence on whether sales channels can be set up smoothly, and ultimately on the profitability of the enterprise.
- Choice of target market: This is particularly important to small and medium-sized enterprises with relatively limited resources. By focusing the enterprise’s sales and marketing efforts on its target market, there will be advantages in cost control and market monitoring.
- Giving priority to public relations activities: Public relations activities include sponsorships of all kinds, joint promotions with other brands and relations with the media.
Three aspects of marketing services in Hong Kong:
- Frontline sales personnel or sales channels
- Marketing companies offer services in planning point-of-sales promotions and deployment of frontline promoters. For example, they can help organise large-scale carnival-style promotions or promotion booths in the shopping malls in Hong Kong on special themes such as food, health products, wedding services, etc.
- Advantages include:
Such events provide a platform to build up the reputation of the brand, while achieving the dual targets of product sales and marketing and making direct contacts with consumers.
The most crucial factor is high-calibre and well-trained promoters.
- Planning of public relations activities
- A soft-sell approach in communicating with customers is the marketing trend in Hong Kong in recent years.
- Public relations activities can take various forms. For example, two organisations can join hands in releasing publicity materials, or jointly sponsoring sports and other events compatible with the image of the brands concerned.
- Advantages include:
Reduce advertising costs by cutting down on costly media placements.
Convey product/brand information to target customers in a more focused manner, enhancing the cost-effectiveness of marketing efforts.
Establish relationships with Hong Kong’s media. This service is provided by public relations companies and other marketing organisations.
- Placement of public relations advertisements
- Placing advertisements in traditional media. This service is provided by traditional advertising agencies and public relations companies.
- Advantages include:
Advertising agencies with good relations with the media have stronger bargaining power. Also, they can group together the needs of different clients for advertising space/time to enjoy volume discounts.
HKTDC Tips (on marketing and promotion):
Set aside appropriate budget to test market response
- Cost control: Small and medium-sized businesses should focus on the needs and preferences of their target customer groups in marketing their products.
- A focused approach avoids wastage of resources: In a mature market like Hong Kong, marketing has to be closely related to the image of the brand and the characteristics of the product in order to communicate effectively with the media and consumers.
- Achieving multiple objectives with one move: Advertising on the internet can achieve multiple objectives and enhance cost effectiveness:
- Understanding client needs
- Serving as a sales channel
- Building up a customer database for use in future market development
- Making use of public relations services: The size of the marketing budget is a matter of choice for the individual company. If a small and medium-sized local public relations company is hired, one should be able to obtain basic services with a budget of less than HK$100,000. (Note: The figure is for reference only; material costs not included. Service charges may vary with scale of operations and scope of work involved.)
- Organising press briefings, including sending out media invitations and issue of press releases
- Liaison with the media for interviews
- Related public relations activities
- Cost of placing a small amount of ads in the media (ad spend not included)