People walk through a shopping district in Hong Kong on Dec 22, 2022. (PHOTO / AFP)
Tourists from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area have been pouring into Hong Kong since the border reopened, citing shopping and sightseeing as topping their itineraries, according to a survey by a global management consulting firm.
But there is a caveat: The city has to optimize its service quality and digital experiences if it is to maintain its shopping paradise appeal.
With COVID-19 travel restrictions now scrapped, Greater Bay Area tourists have made a comeback to Hong Kong for shopping, and the trend is likely to continue, the survey by McKinsey & Company revealed.
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Among the 1,155 respondents from the mainland Greater Bay Area cities, 85 percent said that shopping and sightseeing would be the main purpose of their next trip to Hong Kong, 12 months after the reopening of the border in January.
Mainland travelers are increasingly accustomed to a seamless omni-channel shopping experience. Hong Kong retailers that hope to continue to attract business from Mainland shoppers should rethink the way they engage with them through digital channels and improve service quality.
Arthur Shek, Managing partner of McKinsey’s Hong Kong office
Their average spending is expected to reach 36,400 yuan ($5,221) per GBA traveler, with most of the spending on luxury goods, at around 17,800 yuan per traveler. As for the top advantages of shopping in Hong Kong, 61 percent, 60 percent and 59 percent of the respondents cited access to the latest trends, better product safety, and higher quality products, respectively.
While access to the latest (fashion) trends, better product safety, and higher quality products remain the jewel in the city’s “Heaven of Shopping” crown, service quality and digital experience are falling behind, cautions the survey.
Around 10 to 15 percent of consumers surveyed will spend less in Hong Kong in the next three years, but will instead choose Hainan or Macao for luxury shopping, and “daigou” (online purchasing via buying agent) for cosmetics, health supplements, and infant formula.
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In addition to their shopping desires in Hong Kong, the survey also explored their willingness to choose Hong Kong’s financial services. The overall picture is upbeat, with 78 percent of respondents expressing a keenness to invest in Hong Kong for higher returns and 78 percent seeking more stable returns than on the mainland. Nevertheless, only 16 percent cited the quality of financial advisors, and only 6 percent cited a good online experience, as top reasons for plumping for Hong Kong’s financial services over those available in mainland cities.
“Mainland travelers are increasingly accustomed to a seamless omni-channel shopping experience. Hong Kong retailers that hope to continue to attract business from Mainland shoppers should rethink the way they engage with them through digital channels and improve service quality,” said Arthur Shek, managing partner of McKinsey’s Hong Kong office.
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Enoch Chan, partner in McKinsey’s Hong Kong office, said: “Retailers should think holistically about Hong Kong and GBA. This holistic approach extends to the way retailers are organized and manage their business. Rather than setting up entirely separate business units that don’t communicate with each other, Hong Kong companies need to establish an integrated organization that is geared toward understanding and serving GBA customers.”
Experts concur that Hong Kong has to better pander to mainland shoppers’ demands to stay competitive.