West Island School students found out first-hand that opening a business is all about research and location, location, location

Campus Life: A group of WIS Year Seven geography students made it their mission to find Hong Kong’s top spot for opening a new business

Nicola Chan |

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Kush (left) recorded his teams findings from their research around Hong Kong.

If you want your business to flourish, where is the prime place to put it: the IFC, Times Square, or maybe Langham Place?

It turns out, a lot of research goes into choosing the best spot to launch a new store, as students from West Island School (WIS) found out for themselves, when they were set this very task.

Working in groups, the Year Seven geography students visited several locations between The Peak and the IFC, including PMQ and SoHo. They collected data from each to work out which was the best place to open their business.

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Each group was assigned its own global corporation, like 7-Eleven or Starbucks. As well as collecting data from the three sites, the students needed to research their assigned business to get a better idea of which location would be the best fit. The students then needed to present their findings using photos, diagrams, and maps.

To find out more about the project, Young Post sat in on of the students’ geography lessons.

Kush Zingade’s group picked the PMQ as the site for their Hong Kong 7-Eleven flagship store, the 11-year-old said. He pointed out that the location was fairly busy, which guarantees customer visits. “There are some pedestrians, and it’s only two minutes away from the nearest MTR exit.”

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He added that there are also restaurants nearby, which means people are likely to pass by in the evening, when they are most in need of a convenience store.

Neither The Peak nor Central were ideal spots, Kush said. The Peak was too quiet, while Central has too much noise and poor air quality.

Scarlett (right) wanted to make sure her group knew who their target audience was. Photo: Nicola Chan
Photo: Nicola Chan/SCMP

Scarlett Lau, 10, had other misgivings about Central when it came to deciding where to open a local-style Starbucks with her teammates. “People only go to Central to work; they don’t have time to visit Starbucks during their working hours.”

In addition to working out the number of passers-by in each of the locations, Scarlett’s group also took note of each person’s estimated age, as not all age groups are equally likely to visit a Starbucks.

In the end, the team concluded The Peak would be the best spot, given that tourists – their target customers – would be most likely to sit and have a cup of coffee.

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Scarlett said the area was also quieter than SoHo or Central, which suited the needs of their customers.

“Some people go to Starbucks to do work, so they might want some quiet time,” she explained.

When asked about data collection, Kush recalled having a hard time recording how much traffic passed through Central, given the hundreds of vehicles that drive down Queen’s Road central every minute.

The students spoke to people on street about their shopping habits.
Photo: West Island School

Another difficulty the students encountered was finding interviewees in Central during the rush hour. “People were really busy, and they kept walking past us; it was really hard to get people to answer our questions,” Scarlett said.

Kush agreed, pointing out that because the 90 students were all trying to trying to conduct street interviews at the same time, many of the people they approached had already completed the questionnaire.

“It was quite hard finding people around The Peak, because we weren’t allowed to go inside the Galleria.”

Despite the challenges, both Scarlett and Kush gained a lot of vital business acumen from the project. In a city like Hong Kong where space is precious and businesses must compete to survive, it turns out that being the best on the block very much depends on which block you’re on in the first place.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge