Hong Kong keeps edge for mainland Chinese shoppers

City remains a trendsetter for fashion, gaining the endorsement of more than 80 per cent of consumers, poll shows

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 August, 2013, 5:36am

The mainland's middle-class consumers may have more choices than ever, but they still look to Hong Kong to set the trends, a survey from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council has found.

The survey examined the shopping and lifestyle habits of middle-class consumers in eight cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu in Sichuan, Wuhan in Hubei, Shenyang in Liaoning, and Nanjing and Changzhou in Jiangsu.

Eighty-four per cent of the survey's 1,600 respondents agreed that "Hong Kong is the place of origin of fashion trends and the trendsetter".

Meanwhile, half of the respondents said "my outfits/lifestyle/pastimes are influenced by Hong Kong trends", up 1 per cent from the last time the survey was conducted in 2009.

Mainland shoppers' preference for foreign brand names remains strong.

Eighty-one per cent said they had purchased an international brand name product in the last year, with 37 per cent buying an international luxury product that cost more than their monthly personal income.

Clothing, shoes and electronics were the top three categories for foreign brand purchases, although there was a distinct shift towards subtle luxury and a disdain for fake products.

Fifty-two per cent of those polled in the survey agreed that "I prefer using less well-known products to using counterfeited goods".

The questionnaire also confirmed that mainland middle-class consumers are showing a higher level of discernment in quality when it comes to goods and the overall consumer experience.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents agreed with the statement "I give first priority to quality".

Some 57 per cent of those surveyed agreed that "I use products and services of a higher end now than in the past, even though it means more expenditure will be incurred".

This demand for quality extended to sales staff expertise and the shopping environment.

Sixty-seven per cent said they "pay more attention now than in the past [to] the comfort level of shopping venues".

A similar number, 68 per cent, said the sales staff's knowledge, not only their service attitude, is important when deciding whether to purchase.

In addition to Hong Kong's chief advantage, not having a tax on goods and services, the city provides a wider variety of products backed by a strong quality guarantee, HKTDC senior economist Billy Wong Sing-piu said.

"The way for Hong Kong to remain a shopper's paradise is to attract more brands to congregate in Hong Kong," Siu said.

"It is a prime testing ground for foreign brands to showcase and get exposure to mainland consumers.

"There is a lot of opportunity for niche brands that are more discreet and can emphasise their uniqueness factor to appeal to mainland consumers."