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Survey on Southern Fujian Consumers’ Perception of Hong Kong Brands and Purchasing Behavior

Under the sponsorship of the Organization Support Programme of the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales, Hong Kong Brand Development Council (BDC) implemented “Xiamen Hong Kong Brand Week” Serial Activities. As a deliverable of the Project, the BDC, in collaboration with a brand management and research team of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, conducted a research entitled “Questionnaire Survey on Southern Fujian Consumers’ Perception of Hong Kong Brands and Purchasing Behavior” at Xiamen, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou City from late April to early May in 2013.

The survey gathers views on Southern Fujian consumers’ awareness and perception of Hong Kong brands, and reveals their habits and behavioral characteristics in the whole process of knowing, understanding, evaluating and buying Hong Kong brands. It also sheds light on the comparative advantages of Hong Kong brands by drawing a comparison between Hong Kong brands, Mainland brands and Taiwan brands, with an eye to helping the Hong Kong companies explore the Southern Fujian markets and formulate effective strategy for domestic sales by providing first-hand information.

The survey interviewed 1,017 citizens in the Southern Fujian region, including 709 from Xiamen, 158 from Quanzhou and 150 from Zhangzhou. Among the respondents, 55% are earning RMB 2,000 to 6,000 per month, whereas about 20% of them have a monthly income of over RMB 6,000. Besides, about 40% respondents are white-collar workers, executives, professionals and self-employed persons.

The main conclusions of the survey are as follows:

1.     In selecting brands, South Fujian consumers tend to place much emphasis on brand image, safety and reliability, value for money, as well as quality. It follows that the South Fujian market is currently dominated by mass-market brands and middle-range products, yet the higher-end middle-class market is picking up growth momentum.

2.     Among the various product and service categories, Hong Kong brands engaged in fashion and accessories, food and beverage, jewellery and watches, household items and fine goods, beauty products and cosmetics enjoy a relatively higher popularity among Southern Fujian consumers. However, Hong Kong’s service brands especially those in the nature B2B business are less popular, owing mainly to the lack of accessibility. Although certain Hong Kong jewellery and food brands are well-known in the Southern Fujian region, a number of consumers there are vaguely familiar with Hong Kong brands such that they may mistake some imitation brands as Hong Kong labels.

3.     Although Mainland brands take a leading position in Southern Fujian and Taiwan brands enjoy a high penetration there, local consumers tend to prefer Hong Kong brands to domestic brands and Taiwan brands as well. On a seven-point scale, Hong Kong brands are able to get 5 points or more in almost every performance indicator, while significantly outperforming Taiwan brands. Respondents widely believe that Hong Kong brands are of high-quality, fashionable and well-known, with innovative design, credibility and better service. This clearly shows that, in the eye of Southern Fujian consumers, Hong Kong brands possess the kind of distinguished attributes like trendiness, safety, stylishness, and reliability.

4.     Nearly 90% respondents agree that the retail price of Hong Kong brands should be higher than that of their domestic counterparts, while 80% respondents indicate their willingness to pay more for Hong Kong brands vis-à-vis Taiwan brands. In comparison with domestic brands and Taiwan brands, nearly 65% respondents would accept a 5% to 10% premium for Hong Kong branded products and services. This reflects Hong Kong brands have stronger pricing power due to the favorable “country of origin effect”.

5.     As pointed out by the respondents, the advertising effort of Hong Kong brands in the Southern Fujian region as well as the whole national market is moderate or even relatively insufficient. The most important channel for local consumers to know about Hong Kong brands is television commercials, followed in turn by Internets, words of mouth (referral by friends) and magazine advertisement. Relatively speaking, younger or higher educated consumers would rely more on new media like Internet.

6.     According to the Research Team, Hong Kong enterprises, when coming to develop brands in Southern Fujian, are recommended to start with the basic step of market segmentation in order to fix brand positioning precisely. Meanwhile, they should step up publicity and employ a flexible promotion mix through striking a delicate balance between traditional and new media, so as to hit the targeted customer groups and groom brand image effectively. On the other hand, Hong Kong companies might consider targeting mainly at the middle-range market, leveraging on the inherent “advantage portfolio” of Hong Kong brand such as quality, safety, value for money; and it is suggested they could stress “safety” and “assurance” when conducting market communications, using these elements as a selling point to woo consumers who are much concerned about product quality and price-to-value ratio. Moreover, Hong Kong companies should also make an attempt to strengthen key brand touch points, so as to enrich brand experience and forge stronger emotional ties with consumers, especially the younger generation.

(For a full report, please refer to the Chinese version閩南消費者對香港品牌態度及購買行為調查報告報告)

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