It's official: Hongkongers love a bargain

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2011, 12:00am


Hongkongers are a thrifty bunch - we use shopping coupons more commonly than consumers anywhere else in the world except the United States, a survey has found.

Sixty-five per cent of shoppers in Hong Kong use money-saving coupons, according to a global survey by Nielsen, which interviewed 25,000 consumers in 51 locations. Only Americans ranked higher, at 68 per cent. Belgium came third at 63 per cent, followed by Portugal, on 62 per cent and South Korea, on 61 per cent.

'The market for fast-moving packaged goods in Hong Kong is one of the most developed in the region and local consumers have become avid coupon users across a wide range of food and non-food categories,' Oliver Rust, Nielsen's managing director in Hong Kong, said.

Coupons help consumers save money and companies promote their products simultaneously, he said, adding that cash rebate coupons were the most popular kind among shoppers in Hong Kong.

Dr Alex Tsang Sze-lung, associate professor in the department of marketing at Baptist University, said fear of inflation could be one reason for the wide use of coupons in the city. The public had become more aware of voucher discounts due to the growth of online group purchases in recent years, he said.

Hong Kong's second-place ranking was not especially significant, he said, since other markets had very similar scores. 'It's not the most precise description to say Hongkongers like to use coupons. They are generally good at looking for good offers,' he said.

While housewives are the biggest coupon users and collectors in the US and Japan, Hong Kong's working women and young people were aware of them, too, Tsang said. 'Shoppers like using coupons partly because they make them feel smarter than those who don't have the discounts. If shops cut prices directly, consumers may think the products are not selling well. But with coupons, they think the products are especially for them to try out.'

He said the use of coupons might increase amid the economic downturn, but not significantly because they were already so widely promoted and used. 'Coupons can attract indecisive customers to some shops for a short period, but they are not used to bring about long-term behavioural change.'

The survey also found that 68 per cent of shoppers in Hong Kong seek out sales and store promotions to save money, while 56 per cent said they chose where to shop based on prices and promotional offers.

'Hong Kong consumers are among the most discerning and informed grocery shoppers in the region,' Rust said.

Nielsen's quarterly consumer confidence report found 41 per cent of Hong Kong shoppers cited rising food prices as their main concern in the second quarter of the year.

Rust said Nielsen had found shoppers were changing their shopping habits, for example buying more frozen food than fresh food, which was hit the hardest by inflation.

Inflation stood at 6.3 per cent in August, according to government statistics. A study by the University of Hong Kong released last week expected inflation would be 6.4 per cent in the third quarter this year, with food and transport expenses going up the most.


Percentage of Asia-Pacific respondents who said they were likely to have online grocery orders delivered to their home