Survey Report on “Hong Kong Brands: The Road to Relaunch”
In June 2020, the BDC conducted a survey under the banner of “Hong Kong Brands: The Road to Relaunch” on its affiliated member companies, aiming to understand the measures taken by Hong Kong enterprises to sustain operation during the epidemic, the strategic deployment of future business and brand development as well as the necessary support they need. The survey was mainly done through online questionnaires, with 110 valid replies collected within a specified period. The BDC also conducted a follow-up survey in mid-August, which focused on selected topics to gauge the influences of the third wave of COVID-19 infections on the business confidence. The main findings of the survey are as follows:
- 82.7% of responding companies said their business deteriorated due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the first five months this year, and 37.4% of the respondents reported a drop in business turnover of over 50%.
- Despite the uncertainties ahead, many responding companies believe that their business prospect is not that bleak and the outlook for the next year could be even positive. As the June survey reveals, over 80% of responding companies held a neutral or positive view about the outlook for branded business both in the second half of year 2020 and throughout 2021. The supplementary survey in August reveals a similar picture, 76.3% and 90% of respondents have affirmed that they are neutral or positive about the business outlook for the remaining months of year 2020 and year 2021.
- 96.4% of responding companies believe that the importance of branding to the overall business development in the following year will either remain flat or keep rising. 90% of responding companies state that they will sustain or increase the resources for brand development. Most of them (91.8%) share the view that the identity of “Hong Kong Brands” bodes well for boosting business competitiveness.
- Concerning the strategic deployment of future brand development, digital transformation emerges as a “standard action” of almost 90% of respondents. Digitalisation of sales and marketing is of utmost significance, such as establishing online shopping or e-commerce channels, launching digital promotions, implementing online and off-line integration and introducing electronic payment devices.
- Hong Kong companies are also busy preparing to re-activate branding initiatives in various ways. Around 50% to 80% of responding companies indicate they will boost product promotion, explore new market, enhance their products and services and optimise branding strategies. Besides, 30% to 60% of respondents will focus on strengthening the “2I” and “2R” strategies, which refer to “Image”, “Innovation”, “customer Relationship” and “social Responsibility”.
- When diversifying their markets, respondents tend to take a “proximity” approach by targeting Hong Kong’s domestic market (representing 58.2% of responding companies) and the neighbouring markets especially the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (42.7%) and ASEAN countries (30%). Meanwhile, some typical digital devices notably social media, self-developed websites and apps, new media advertising and Internet celebrities and KOL apparently outweigh traditional marketing tools and constitute the major “battlefield” for brand promotion.
- As for the necessary support, most responding companies (93.7%) believe that maintaining a stable business environment in Hong Kong is of utmost importance, followed by promoting the collective image of Hong Kong brands, assisting in market development, offering funding and financial support, and fostering digital transformation. According to over 80% of respondents, the support of the Government and related organisations on the above areas is “needed” or “much needed”.
Suggestions on Supporting the Relaunch of Hong Kong Brands
Based on the views of the companies that responded to the Survey on “Hong Kong Brands: The Road to Relaunch”, the BDC proposed the following measures to support the further development of Hong Kong brands:
- As the HKSAR Government’s work to control COVID-19 epidemic evolves, the “Supporting Enterprises” strategy should shift the focus from addressing short-term operational difficulties to assisting enterprises in rebuilding and enhancing competitiveness.
- As revealed by the Survey, the most pressing demand raised by the participating companies is sustaining a stable business environment in Hong Kong, which reflects their strong desire for social stability. The BDC thus calls for the HKSAR Government and various community sectors to build consensus and join hands to restore and maintain the rule of law, stability and a favourable business environment.
- To the extent that “Hong Kong Brands” is one of the critical “soft powers” of the City and a public asset available for local enterprises to leverage on, the HKSAR Government should attach greater importance to promoting “Hong Kong Brands”, which could serve as one of the future directions for rebuilding the image of Hong Kong as well as developing external economic and trade relations. Apart from organising large-scale signature events for promoting Hong Kong brands in both Mainland China and overseas, the Government should also encourage and assist Hong Kong enterprises to act collectively in exploring the international market, for example, setting up collective distribution facilities and launching publicity campaigns for “Hong Kong Brands” in markets outside Hong Kong.
- The BDC suggests the Government to strengthen financial support for brand enterprises, including optimising the “SME Export Marketing Fund”, establishing a more targeted “Brand Development Support Programme”, and providing financial incentives such as additional tax deductions for expenses related to branding. Meanwhile, the Government can consider upgrading the “Distance Business (D-Biz) Programme” to become a regular funding scheme and extending the scope of subsidy to both “hard technology” and “soft skill” projects, so as to stimulate and support digital transformation sustainably and more effectively.
- In line with the trend that the industries are paying increased attention to domestic and neighbouring markets, the Government’s funding schemes should include projects aimed primarily at the domestic market. The Government should also consider giving priority to Hong Kong brands when devising public procurement policies, and taking the lead or assisting to organise local trade shows or promotional events, so as to provide platforms for Hong Kong brands to explore the local market.
- The BDC envisions building a “Brand Greater Bay”, aiming to foster a “brand economy” in the Greater Bay Area which can be another iconic attribute of the region’s identity. It is suggested that the Government should facilitate Hong Kong companies to anchor in the regional markets and enable Hong Kong brands to foster branding partnerships among enterprises in the GBA. The implementation of “Brand Greater Bay” Vision will open up a new dimension for economic cooperation between Hong Kong and other cities in the Greater Bay Area, and create a new avenue for engaging Hong Kong companies in this regional development initiative.
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