While the global economy, which has been plagued by the lingering COVID-19 epidemic, is gradually recovering, China has strode forward by a year-on-year real GDP growth of 8.1% in 2021, far ahead of other major economies. The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) continues to serve as the main driving force of the Mainland economy. The local economy in the region has regained its growth momentum, resulting in impressive increase in purchasing power and the unleashing of high demands for consumer goods and services.
In order to assist Hong Kong industries to ride on the growth of GBA, the Hong Kong Brand Development Council (the BDC) and the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong (the CMA) have joined hands in implementing a large-scale brand promotion and research project namely “Organising ‘Hong Kong．IN．Brand Greater Bay’ serial activities to promote Hong Kong brands’ collective image” (Brand Greater Bay Project), under the sponsorship of the Trade and Industrial Organisation Support Fund of Trade and Industry Department, HKSAR Government. Through a series of brand image-building, promotion and consumer engagement activities supplemented by multi-location, multi-dimensional market research and business strategy profiling, the Project aims to provide a holistic platform to support Hong Kong companies aspiring to “deep plow” the domestic market, especially helping them to keep abreast of the rapidly-changing consumption culture in the Greater Bay Area.
As a major deliverable of the Project, the BDC and the CMA commissioned a professional research team to conduct case study analysis on several Hong Kong and Guangdong brands with substantial operation in the GBA, in an attempt to analyse and document their real-life experience in developing domestic sales and building brands in the regional market. By placing emphasis on the overview of the current market environment, trends of technological development, as well as business models and promotion strategies of interviewed companies, this study has made particular efforts to establish role models and conceptualise their success factors as well as practical know-how pertinent to Greater Bay Area; and insightful suggestions have been put forward for Hong Kong companies’ reference, which particularly shed light on the effective strategies to enter the market and promote brands in the GBA.
The present study is qualitative in nature. The research team adopted a case study approach to analysing brand management experience of six brands, four from Hong Kong and two from Guangdong province, including:
Bonjour is a mature brand. Its experience illustrates how to cope with unexpected challenges created by disruptive changes in the retail sector and the outbreak of the epidemic. Instead of responding reactively, Bonjour has embraced a breakthrough vision and changed its modus operandi to turn the challenges to new business opportunities, which ensures sustainable growth of the Brand. Blesscuit is a small company that adopts a market niche strategy. Its brand-building experience in Guangzhou discloses the difficulties that SMEs commonly encountered. The story of SAGA alerts many OEMs the issues that they will encounter when deciding to develop their own brands and the need of changing the production-oriented mindset to a customer-oriented one.
The most important lesson we can learn from “Lexington” is the need of investing in organisational learning capability to update the firm’s knowledge of China market. How to modify the brand’s business model to access to the resources of local business partners and/or consultants is also of critical importance to successful promotion of a Hong Kong brand in Greater Bay Area.
Finally, the two brands from Guangdong “百果園” and “Urban Revivo” are rising stars and have been performing well in terms of both financial and marketing measures. Their experiences reveal how to ride on the new retail trend and use big data to restructure supply chain, explore emerging business opportunities, and design brand experience.
This Study has no intention to provide a granular understanding of the market and local consumers’ buying behaviour based on the information given by these firms interviewed. However, the Research Team firmly believe the brand building and management experience of these six brands in Greater Bay Area can be benchmarked by Hong Kong based brands; in particular, the experience of how to capitalise the emerging changes in the Greater Bay Area to grow brands and business.
All in all, the strategic and management insights derived from the brand promotion and management experience of these brands can be summarised under three categories:
Furthermore, consumers are no longer simply base on consumption experience to evaluate brand experience. Pre-consumption and post-consumption experience may also play a key role. This requires brands to adopt a holistic brand management approach to developing and managing brands in the Greater Bay Area.