10 June 2009
Making it on the Mainland
The market potential of second-
The Chow Tai Fook executive said the mainland's second- and third-tier cities are the best entry points for new businesses, to avoid directly competing with international brands. And to minimise the investment risk, Mr Wong advised Hong Kong companies to focus on the industry they are most familiar with.
Mr Wong shared Chow Tai Fook's experience at the High-Level Conference on the Mainland Domestic Market, a one-day forum organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). The Hong Kong event, 26 May, drew
Stick with what you're familiar with is Chow Tai Fook Managing Director Wong Siu Kee's advice to Hong Kong retailers considering the mainland market
Representatives from Hong Kong and mainland commercial sectors, as well as mainland officials, attended the event. "As Hong Kong companies shift their focus from export to exploring the mainland domestic market, they must keep learning how to develop their brands," said HKTDC Assistant Executive Director Benjamin Chau. Many Hong Kong businesses, he noted, are setting up mainland retail channels through franchising, by opening a shop within a shop or through consignment.
Following trends is key to mainland success, says Kampery Group Chairman Simon Wong
Mr Wong said Hong Kong brands have mainland consumers' confidence, and that, he said, is integral to successful brand-building. To further earn the trust of consumers, he said, food retailers should consider acquiring quality and safety certifications, demonstrating their commitment to top-of-the-line products.
Veteran mainland entrepreneurs at the conference, meanwhile, had some insider advice on how to break into the market. Terry Ho, Chief Financial Officer of sportswear company Xtep International, recommends enlisting the help of experts based in the market.
"With different consumer preferences and tastes in the various regions, employing sole agents well-acquainted with the local market definitely helps brand development," Mr Ho noted.
More than 600 people attended the mainland domestic market conference organised by the HKTDC
"Hong Kong companies have the edge over their overseas competitors in terms of understanding Chinese culture and language," Mr Wang said. "They can also capitalise on their vast experience in brand and quality management by serving as a bridge for high-end mainland brands to make inroads into the United States and European markets."
Precisely positioning a brand is key to the success of fashion company Eve Enterprises Group, according to company President Xia Hua.
"Retailing, which is different from the export business, is about selling apparel – one piece at a time. So the formula to success is not just in advertising, but in establishing long-term relationships with our customers." She said her business focuses on tapping into customer emotions by updating their advertising messages regularly. She also noted the importance of tapping into the local culture when advertising, to influence consumer tastes.
A series of "Style Hong Kong" shows has been organised by the HKTDC to help Hong Kong companies explore the mainland retail market. Last month's "Style Hong Kong Show in Wuhan" attracted more than 300,000 visitors. Upcoming "Style Hong Kong" shows include Chongqing in November and Shenyang, in May next year.