Hongkongers with cash like to use it for flash

Survey says well-off locals are top spenders in region on luxury goods, but aren't big investors

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 1:16pm

Affluent Hongkongers are the region's leading spenders on luxury goods and travel, but are much more cautious when it comes to financial investments, new data from French market-research company Ipsos shows.

It polled 19,890 affluent individuals across the Asia-Pacific region, including 1,697 Hongkongers, between July of last year and the end of June. Affluent was defined as being among the wealthiest 22 per cent of society, which in Hong Kong means a household income of more than US$8,518 a month.

The appetite for luxury goods grew in every category despite earlier fears of a slowdown.

"Of all the places we surveyed, Hong Kong was the only market where we saw increases in every luxury segment," Ipsos executive director Clare Lui said.

Consumption of jewellery and watches rose an average of 3.3 percentage points, while apparel and leather goods saw a rise of 2.8 points and footwear spending went up 2.1 points.

Hongkongers also showed a greater propensity to travel, with the number of trips taken for both business and leisure the highest in the region. In the past year, 26.5 per cent had gone on a business trip and 37.8 per cent had travelled for leisure.

"This is by far the best year in a long time for affluent travel. We believe this is a good indication that people are willing to spend money," Lui said.

However, when it comes to financial products, Hong Kong's moneyed were far more conservative. Just 77.3 per cent invested in financial products, compared with 94.3 per cent in Seoul, 91.5 per cent in Singapore and 91 per cent in Taipei.

The investments they chose shifted to more conservative vehicles too, compared with the previous year. Life insurance products increased 2.3 percentage points to 62.8 per cent, while riskier investments such as mutual funds decreased 4.7 percentage points and stocks and bonds decreased 1.2 points.

"We don't ask specifically why they are cautious about the products they use, but from our analysis of the data we believe that while having the money to invest, they are waiting for the right moment," Lui said. "They are waiting to see some real effects from local policies."

Properties bought as investments dropped 4 percentage points but primary residence ownership was not affected, rising 3 points.