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Innovation is one of the keys to success. Carlsberg Group still keeps up with the times by constantly pursuing better beers, including optimising its products. Carlsberg Asia’s marketing and sales vice-president Matteo Fantacchiotti believes premiumisation is the future for the Danish brewing company.

In 1847, Danish industrialist and philanthropist Jacob Christian Jacobsen founded Carlsberg on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark. Now, the group is one of the most prominent brewers in the world, while it also takes prides in its long history and rich heritage

As a company with more than 170 years of history, Carlsberg Group has its fingers on the pulse to maintain its leading status in the industry – and one of the strategies is to premiumise its products.

“Our growth is coming from selling higher-priced products to people who are a bit more curious about the beer they are drinking,” Fantacchiotti says. “We will continue to sell premium brands and there is a big opportunity to sell more super-premium and specialty brands.”

Premiumisation creates the bridge between the desirability of luxury and the function and necessity of the mass market. Meanwhile, the economic growth in some Asian countries is one of the driving forces of Carlsberg’s business.

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According to Euromonitor International’s research over beer consumption, China accounts for about 27% of global consumption.

In addition to China, Japan, Vietnam, India and South Korea are also big markets in Asia. These markets account for more than one-third of beer consumption in the world.

Economic growth in Asian countries means Carlsberg can offer diversified premium products.

“The increase in the population of the middle class offers opportunities for us to roll out premiumised products,” he says. “Urbanisation in some Asian countries such as Nepal, India and Myanmar also opens up opportunities to offer premium beer.”

Localisation is also a key concept among marketers and Carlsberg is no exception.

For example, Wind Flower Snow Moon Specialty is originally a local brand in the Yunnan Province in China. Relaunched in China in February 2019 in the super-premium segment, it is priced even higher than some international premium brands in bars and restaurants in China. The company believes that other than its flavour, its Chinese name with cultural nuances is also the key factor in the product’s success.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Carlsberg, in partnership with Brooklyn Brewery from the US, has launched Yau – a premium craft beer brewed in Hong Kong already.

In Laos, Carlsberg has launched three Beerlao craft line variants, including Beerlao White, Beerlao Amber, and Beerlao Hoppy. These new products aim to solidify its reputation as a vibrant, yet innovative brand, while they also allow Beerlao to appeal to and stay relevant to the younger generation.

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While upgrading the quality of products is crucial to the Carlsberg Group’s business, it also rejuvenates the image of its flagship Carlsberg brand by adopting a new design and packaging.

The new design and packaging are one of the latest examples showing how Carlsberg Group has been constantly substantiating its “Probably the Best” in a meaningful way. The improvement includes a redesigned packaging of bottled beer, and a new bottle cap to siphon excess oxygen from the bottle, which can preserve the taste of the beer better. It has also switched to a greener green ink on its bottle labels for better recycling.

Meanwhile, the public is now pursuing a healthier lifestyle and looking for sugar-free or alcohol-free beverages. Fantacchiotti agrees that the number of drinking occasions is now rising in Asia, and Carlsberg can play a more active role in offering diversified beverages.

“Alcohol-free beer could be an alternative,” he says. “In Europe, it’s common to consume alcohol-free beer, but the popularity of it in Asia is still incomparable to Europe.”

Carlsberg will launch a range of alcohol-free brews next year in Hong Kong to catch up with the trend. In fact, the alcohol-free Carlsberg 0.0% has already been available in Hong Kong and has seen warm consumer reception. Fantacchiotti also says that Hong Kong people are willing to explore new items.

“We will keep exploring more possibilities in our research laboratory. To help drive the growth of our business, we will continue to premiumise core products, both the Carlsberg beer and localised offerings.”

Trust has always played an important role in brand purchase, but today trust is essential; across geographies, across every category, across all ages and across income brackets.  On par with the usual product attributes of quality, value, convenience, and ingredients, four out of five people say a major consideration for brand purchase is, “I can trust the brand to do what is right”.  A Trust Barometer study from January 2019 showed that two-thirds of people agree that a good reputation may get them to try a product, but will soon stop buying it unless they trust the company behind the brand. 

The challenge for marketers is building trust in their brands when consumers are steering clear of their marketing efforts.  This year, with 74% of people saying they are actively avoiding advertising, my advice is to consider not only what your brand stands for, but the voices you use to tell that story.  The top three most trusted spokespeople for a brand message are experts, company employees, and people like me – or influencers – voices that are authentic, interesting and relatable.

Influencer marketing isn’t new but is growing fast – and the numbers are staggering.  Instagram has become the strongest medium with users ‘liking’ 4.2 billion posts per day,  China’s influencer economy alone is estimated at $116 billion and rising. Furthermore, in this region, 80% of influencers are micro-influencers, proving anyone with a camera phone and a point of view can build an audience.

An online influencer survey of 18-34 year-olds found that 63% trust what influencers say about a brand more than what the brand says about itself, and size really doesn’t matter.  Only 18% say they are attracted to influencers for their huge followings, cementing my belief that consumers will only continue to follow influencers as sources of information and inspiration if they feel trust is part of the value proposition.

It’s not all good news

With a lack of marketing regulation in this space, I’m increasingly concerned that we collectively find a way to protect consumers, influencers and brands.   After a few months of posting my life dining, hiking, and exploring Hong Kong I received a sales message on Instagram: Did I want to buy followers, likes and views for a low price? 10K followers: 70$, 5K Likes: 40$, 20K views: 40$.  All 100% guaranteed.

From bots, fake followers, fake engagement, and fake comments, to fraud and missteps of well-known influencers, brand reputation and consumer trust is at stake.

Influencers partnering with brands must be transparent and use #ad in their posts.  Trusted influence – the thing that inspires taking action – is built on real relationships.

It’s not just the relationships between consumers and influencers, but between influencers and brands

35% of the consumers in that influencer study said they pay attention to and trust what influencers say because they share their values. When used effectively, trusted influencers earn sales and build advocacy. In fact, because of an influencer, over half bought a new product, a third talked about a brand and 40% said they trusted a brand.

An influencer marketing strategy needs crafting with care. For when brands and influencers align, they have the potential not only to amplify influence and engage targeted audiences, but also to co-create cultural relevance for the brands they partner with.

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Annouchka Behrmann is head of brand at Edelman Hong Kong, an agency member of PRHK, Hong Kong’s association for PR and communications professionals

The field of marketing automation is growing at an astonishing rate. According to a recent study , this market will generate up to HK$60.57 billion revenue by 2025, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 9.26%.
Statistics also show that 80% of marketing automation users experienced an increase in numbers of leads, while 77% saw their conversion rates were optimised.

There is an increasing number of businesses investing in some type of marketing automation for repetitive marketing activities, in an attempt to increase productivity, and consequently revenue. Yet, there are still some challenges this technology fails to address: 95% of marketing automation users struggle to personalise, segment, or respond to customer needs in time.

Thanks to technological advancements, AI has arrived and tasks that would normally require a massive commitment by multiple team members are now being performed by technologies that simulate human intelligence.

In other words, when combining marketing automation tools and AI, businesses can cut down on risks created by inadequate segmentation approaches, and non-relevant marketing messages, while improving response times.

Here are five ways AI can maximise your marketing automation efforts.


1. Conversion rate optimisation

By incorporating AI into your web design, it’s possible to analyse data and gain actual insights into customer behaviour, to ultimately help with customer segmentation. With that information, personalising messages and customising offers to meet exact demand is possible, and thus optimise conversion rates.


2. High potential leads acquisition

When segmenting using AI technology, a business can also group leads based on purchase intention. Additionally, these tools also identify determining factors that would affect the buying decision and provide real-time, well-suited recommendations to boost plans to acquire leads.


3. Quality content creation

Thanks to the technological evolutions in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Generation (NLG), businesses can now easily create personalised content to drive engagement at a fast rate.


4. Relevant visual elements collection

AI-powered automation tools can quickly gather the most relevant visual elements required — such as images or videos — while detecting potentially inappropriate content, strictly following a business’s visual identity and marketing messages.


5. User experience maximisation

By personalising messages across channels using AI-powered agents — such as chatbots or virtual assistants — it’s possible to provide customers with a 1-on-1 experience at the early stages of conversation, to anticipate their needs and seamlessly solve basic problems.


Linh Dinh is an artificial intelligence and business automation enthusiast who often writes about technology-related topics on Market Inspector, where she works as a communication assistant.

For a decade, the fashion industry has faced massive – and what some might see as long overdue – blowback from consumers over environmental and social practices. But brands are finally cutting out the cynical greenwashing and putting sustainability front and centre. Rick Boost speaks with two companies in the industry about the challenges ahead.

Harold Weghorst, VP of global branding for textile material manufacturer Lenzing, doesn’t beat around the bush when asked about the global problem he is facing.

“All the brands and retailers want you to think whatever they do is sustainable, but as a matter of fact the textile industry is one of the most unsustainable industries in the world and one of the most polluting industries in the world,” he says.

Indeed, the numbers available make for grim reading across the board.

Apparel alone ranks as the world’s second-worst polluting industry. Eighty billion articles of clothing are produced every year, an amount capable of clothing the world’s population 10 times over. On top of the massive oil consumption and carbon footprint that this entails, total production accounts for 20% of the world’s wasted water. If that isn’t enough, trillions of plastic-based microfibres are clogging up the world’s oceans accumulating from every time a synthetic garment is even washed. Items made from these fibres are estimated to take over 400 years to biodegrade.

Weghorst continues: “You imagine that we buy – compared to 25 years ago – four times more clothes because of fast fashion, because of different trends because people have access to more income. And 80% of those clothes end up in landfills.”

The reason for his bluntness is that Lenzing is attempting to face the sustainability problem head-on, and in the process, totally reinvent itself. Though the company has been investing in eco-friendly alternatives for years, it has stripped down its 130-plus product lines to just a handful. The flagship product of these was launched in February 2018, a 100% biodegradable fibre named Tencel.


The right stuff: Harold Weghorst championing his company’s flagship brand.

And Lenzing’s goals go further than a radical streamlining of its offering for the market, it’s part of a larger transformation of its entire strategy. A company that has maintained a strict B2B focus – with a retail customer portfolio as varied as Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, Country Road, Zara, H&M, and Massimo Dutti – since 1938 is shifting its attention. Lenzing wants Tencel to spearhead a charge to become a B2B2C-focused company, or as Weghorst likes to call it, B2Me.

“We still value our B2B approach because that’s what brought us to where we are right now, which is a very respectable player in the industry and we will continue to do that,” he explains.

“But the main difference is that we wanted to add the last step and reach out to the consumer. That’s easier said than done because it requires a 180-degree change in our brand strategy; you cannot reach out to the consumer with 130 brands.

“I always say if we are able to build one brand in the mind of the consumer we can go to church every day and light a candle.”

He tells esb电竞数据投注电脑版 his vision is to see Tencel grow in recognisability to the extent it becomes an “emotional promise” for discerning shoppers such as Intel Inside is for computers or Gore-Tex is for outdoor wear.

“We believed we had a big opportunity to develop one brand in textile as an ingredient brand because consumers want to know more about what is in it. I’m buying these clothes at Zara or Uniqlo or Tommy Hilfiger, but what are they made of? So ingredient branding is becoming more and more important for consumers.”

The process wasn’t without some pain. He confesses the greatest resistance came from within the company itself, with Lenzing employees feeling reluctant to let go of their multitude of brand offspring. And though its tertiary customers jumped at the potential, some of its primary customers – made up of spinners and fabric makers – were harder to convince.

“The brands and retailers were the first to embrace this brand strategy. They were like ‘Wow, this is consumer language. This is what we need, this is what our customers want’, but our primary customers, they were more reluctant because they had to change without having, in the beginning, a promise of more sales or more benefits for them,” he says.

“They felt they had to give up something, so we had to convince them also. ‘We’re helping you because we’re generating pull from the other end of the value chain, we’re helping you to generate demand.’ Now they have come around as well so now everyone sees the benefit of moving that way.”

Sustainability is undoubtedly a megatrend that’s broken the confines of the LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) crowd, with brands that demonstrate a commitment to the ideal being rewarded greater growth than reluctant competitors.


In a 2015 global study from Nielsen, 81% of respondents felt strongly that companies should help improve the environment. In addition, 66% said they were willing to pay more for sustainable brands, with that number jumping to 73% when posed to Millennials.

“Millennials are not so much driven by advertising, they are driven by values, they really appreciate authenticity, honesty, transparency, real messages and that group is becoming bigger and bigger. For them, sustainability has a major role in their decision-making process which was not the case before.”

In Hong Kong, however, brands face an uphill battle. Though the city has the unfortunate claim to wasting 340 tonnes of clothing on average each day, awareness is extremely low.

Jennifer Tam, marketing/new business development manager at innerwear brand Chicks, tells esb电竞数据投注电脑版: “How [clothing] brands market ourselves is on the fashion side, it’s always about the style. Because when you wear it out you look good, there’s the feel-good factor. But on the material side, not a lot of brands will actually market their material as a focus.”

The family-friendly brand has been taking strides towards getting the word out about the importance of eco-friendly practices, while improving its own.

Chicks has formed partnerships with environmentally-minded NGOs such as Friends of the Earth, worked with the WWF’s “Making Zero Impact Fashionable” project to audit its supply chain for better practices, and enlisted influencers to engage audiences on the subject.

Tam herself has also made speaking appearances at events such as the city’s recent Conscious Festival. She says these actions have weight coming from an established and well-liked outlet.

“When people talk about Chicks in Hong Kong, they know about us. They will automatically understand that we’re about quality and durability and they trust us and what we’re doing has built a trust that is hard for a new brand to have.”


Green scene: Events like The Conscious Festival allow communication for brands.

Yet, despite the brand’s best efforts, Tam laments that in Hong Kong she has really only noticed a small – though dedicated – interest from mainly younger and predominantly expat voices on the sustainability issue so far. However, she says there is no intent to change course.

“Our take is, we all have a choice as a brand. And, as a brand, you have a voice, and then if you want to change something, this is where we can speak out and really have our stand.”

In addition to Lenzing – who the brand has been a client of for 13 years – Chicks has formed partnerships with other sustainable material producers such as Cotton USA, Woolmark, and Cotton Incorporated. But Tam is the first to admit the brand still has a way to go towards being totally sustainable, with synthetic materials included in several products. She explains the hurdles still presented by their place in the market.

“Our difficulty is that we have a heritage of 65 years, so not all of our products are sustainable. It’s impossible because of our customer base; we have existing customers. So how do you get a balance? Unfortunately, sustainability comes with a cost. So how do I balance between the retail price, my cost, my customer, and our vision, this is all about the balancing.”

But Tam still believes in the cause. She adds: “The most important thing is about the next generation. How do we ensure the earth we have, the resources we have, the animals we have, so our next generation can still enjoy it? It’s really little by little step-by-step how we fix things. It’s not that we can do it in one go. Definitely, we cannot because it’s also how to be sustainable as a business as well. So it’s how we map our road map to being more of a sustainable brand.”

The watchword of the company moving forward is education, armed with the mantra of: “Buy less and buy better.”


Shop and study: Chicks provides information alongside its innerwear range.

Chicks – which has relevant information displayed in its outlets – wants local consumers to have a better understanding of what goes into their clothes while also reducing waste by choosing better-made products. And with more workshops and school-based initiatives planned, the brand believes children to be the prime audience for that message.

“Adults have a set habit, they are used to things, and hence, although we know about the bad things that we do to the environment, it’s a habit and then it is price sensitive. A lot of different factors that we have to think about. Maybe they want to do it, but they can’t do it at this moment in time. But kids will just do it because they believe in it.”

Looking to the future, she adds: “It is important for us to talk to the public to make the change because we really can’t do it alone.”

Weghorst hopes Lenzing acts as a trailblazer, lighting the way for others to take serious action soon.

“I hope their [brands] offer is not only driven by business goals, but equally driven by making the world a better place and not driving sustainability just because it sells, but because it’s the right thing to do for our planet,” he says.

“Hopefully we as an industry can clean up our act and make sure in the next decade that more than 50% of our textile consumption in sustainable. Of course, we would hope for 100% – but currently, that is too far a reach – but if we can create awareness with consumers, we can create that offer with retailers and brands collectively.”


This article was produced for the May issue of esb电竞数据投注电脑版 Magazine. For more features, and other magazine-exclusive content from this and upcoming issues, you can subscribe to receive your print copy here or can read our digital version of this issue in its entirety here .


Despite the intense pressure of high rents and the encroaching expansion of eCommerce, physical retail stores are still blossoming in Hong Kong. Yet, over the past decade, the role of the physical store has evolved. It is still the main distribution channel for brands and retailers, but the focus has shifted to it providing unique customer experiences, solidifying a brand’s image and raising its awareness. Sharon Kwok examines how retailers are leveraging branding and marketing impact to enhance their business.

Creating space for the ‘experience’

Due to the city’s high population density, brick and mortar remains crucial for Hong Kong retailers, and as reflected from data, the vacancy rates of retail stores remain low. According to Daniel Wong, CEO of Hong Kong commercial real estate agency Midland IC&I, the keys that are driving industries are cosmetics merchants, drug stores and F&B outlets.

Despite competition for space, international brands are also actively expanding their footprints into Hong Kong.

French sporting goods retailer Decathlon entered the Hong Kong market in August 2017 with two stores located at Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. However, it’s its third branch – due to open in June – that has drawn greater attention. Located in Tseung Kwan O, the massive 72,000 square foot premises is set to be Hong Kong’s largest sports store.


With more than 1,500 stores across 49 countries, Decathlon is known for its warehouse-like retail venues. Marc Zielinski, CEO of Decathlon Hong Kong, says the size of the Tseung Kwan O store – though humongous by Hong Kong standards – is the average size of Decathlon stores worldwide.

He adds that brick and mortar is a key strategy for Decathlon globally. But how it is executed depends on each local market. Hong Kong has become one of the exceptional examples for Decathlon to open a store within the core districts of a city.

“At a global level, we used to open big stores – mainly situated outside of cities – where people need to drive for a distance to visit us. But this concept would not work here in Hong Kong. So we needed to adapt locally and find the best solution.”

Brands are able to engage customers to a greater extent in physical stores, championing their unique experiences with customers. Zielinski says the store’s enormous size is justified in order to allow for interactive retail experiences.

“We strongly believe [the physical] store itself has a future. Not only for Hong Kong, but globally. That’s why we recently also opened a new store in Japan.”

The Tseung Kwan O venue has an equal 36,000 square foot split between a traditional indoor shop floor and an outdoor practice terrace. Visitors will be able to have a hands-on experience with sports products across 70 disciplines such as hiking, basketball, running, tennis, badminton, camping, ski, yoga, crosstraining – you name it. Cyclists can also utilise a free bicycle workshop space to test, upgrade or repair their bikes DIY style.

Sports fans will also find community areas across the store to engage with sports specialists about training regimens, physical goals or general sporting tips. In addition, Decathlon will organise regular sports learning classes, product testing sessions and sports talks.

“Good retail according to me is based on humans and relationships. We believe that those areas which serve for interaction, and allow customers to speak about their passion, will be meaningful,” he says.

The same views on the importance of in-store personal interaction are shared by Herbert Chow, CEO of Hong Kong-based children apparel retailer Chickeeduck. He emphasises that personal services provided at retail stores cannot be replaced by online platforms.

Chow explains: “For Chickeeduck, the retail shop aims to serve young mothers and teach them how to outfit their children. Our in-store staff are trained to offer advice for parents on how to mix and match outfits for their kids, and make suggestions for gifting.”


The cost of selling

“The rent in Hong Kong is very high. It is a problem definitely. But we find it is possible to offer good prices with quality products,” Zielinski says.

According to the latest Hong Kong Property Market Research Report Q1 2019 by Colliers International, high-street rents remained stable overall, edging down by 0.3% Q-O-Q, compared to the decline of 0.1% Q-O-Q in Q4 2018. Colliers expects the performing sectors, including the non-traditional sectors of luxury accessories, sports and lifestyle, F&B and cosmetics, will continue to take hold of opportunities to expand.

The report also forecasts an uptick of 1.0% YOY for core retail districts in 2019, and a steady growth of 2.5% between 2020 and 2023.

Countering the issue of rent, Decathlon keeps its product pricing lower than the competition by selling everything under its own brands. As a vertically integrated retailer, it controls every stage of operations, from design, pricing, logistics to distribution. This helps the retailer keep its costs and price tags low, but with higher operating margins.


Zielinski (pictured above) agrees the role of physical stores has changed over the past decade. The retail space has incorporated branding and marketing strategies to enhance business. In addition to remaining as the main distribution channel for brands and retailers, physical stores are also being used to build brand image and raise brand awareness.

Decathlon combines retail and branding strategies in the face of the challenge of raising its brand awareness in Hong Kong.

“We may be known in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. If you ask people in Tseung Kwan O, I am not sure if we are known there. We need to gradually develop our brand awareness, and what’s behind the name, what we do, what’s our belief. I don’t want us to be known for cheap-priced products.”

Decathlon aims to reach consumers who see value-for-money. It appeals to consumers who participate in sporting and outdoor activities and are looking for practical gear.

“At Decathlon, we strongly believe that sports can improve life. The purpose of our company is to make sure sport is accessible to as many people as possible through high-quality products at affordable prices. It means that we don’t target a specific segment. We want to open the possibility for many people to try sports.”

Retailers also need to master how to leverage the physical store’s location and decoration to enhance the brand image. The Apple store and Starbucks are typical examples of utilising the space and vibe of a store to draw customers in.

Chickeeduck has launched a new face for its retail stores.

“We did make some efforts on the decoration of the stores. Because of the fast fashion brands’ penetration, now we go for a high-end style boutique to differentiate ourselves from those fast-fashion brands. It also echoes with our high-quality apparel,” Chow says.

“Ten years ago, the decoration was more kid-friendly. We set up a little table with LEGO and toys for kids to play at the store. Nowadays, we arrange more seats for guests, especially for the gentlemen who accompany their wives to go shopping for their kids.”

Chickeeduck has a 5,000 square foot store in Kwun Tong, the industrial area which clusters some brands’ outlets. Its front shop is an outlet, the back is an office. Chow says while this outlet is well-received, it can also take advantage of the convenience of this setting for staff training.

Chickeeduck plans to open several stores this year. Chow points out that malls without kids zones are not favourable to brands such as Chickeeduck.

“Kids zones help attract our potential customers to visit the store. I would be worried if the landlord offers us an exclusive area. We need a cluster of kids brands in the area in order to prosper.”

He also says rents not surprisingly take up the largest portion of business costs, with an average of 10% to 15% growth year-onyear. However, he foresees there will be a rent freezing period, and that rent will drop for some districts soon.

Colliers International’s report sees retailers being more cautious in their expansions this year, while landlords are already becoming more flexible during rental negotiations. Tenants with higher budgets should take this opportunity to upgrade to locations with better footfall.


An omni-channel balance is key

Physical stores are still crucial, as they incorporate sales and shopping experiences that cannot be found online. However, eCommerce is a trend that can’t be ignored. Brands and retailers have to strike a balance of omnichannel solutions to win, Zielinski says.

“We have been developing an omnicommerce business model. We need to be where the customers are. They do not only go shopping in-store or online, they do both, very often depending on the time they have, the price of the product, and the convenience.”

Users will be able to make purchases through the Decathlon mobile app for a fast and seamless shopping experience and can arrange to pick up their online purchase in-store in one hour through the Click and Collect 1 Hour service.

Zielinski says: “Developing online infrastructure has cost as well. Launching an eCommerce platform has a cost. Not everything is free because it is online. We want to balance offline and online, and follow the trend.”


This article was produced for the May issue of esb电竞数据投注电脑版 Magazine. For more features, and other magazine-exclusive content from this and upcoming issues, you can subscribe to receive your print copy here or can read our digital version of this issue in its entirety here .

For anyone that's been to mainland China, it’s clear to see that innovation and technology is thriving, and with the publication of the Greater Bay Area Blueprint at the end of February, this looks set to continue.

According to the South China Morning Post , the blueprint, “sets out President Xi Jinping’s personal ambition to integrate the 11 cities into an economic powerhouse to rival other innovation and financial hubs such as Silicon Valley and the Tokyo Bay Area.”

With the governments’ plans for the Greater Bay Area (GBA) already well underway, what does this focus on innovation, as well as the wider blueprint mean for those in the region and further afield? And how will the GBA blueprint impact PR and esb电竞数据投注电脑版 practitioners in Hong Kong? Here are some of the key questions you might be asked by your clients or colleagues:

Can the GBA live up to the hype and become a new San Francisco, New York, or Tokyo?

Don’t write it off just yet. The GBA’s current GDP sits at a healthy US$1.3 trillion, just behind the US$1.61 trillion GDP of Greater New York, so economically it looks like it could be on track to overtake these rivals. In addition, the Guangdong Delta has long served as a key point into and out of China, and with such a comprehensive and thought-out blueprint to help guide its future development, it looks set to continue as a key trading point. Likewise, while we're seeing a contraction of markets in China, cities in the south are bucking that trend with Shenzhen achieving 8% growth last year while other tier 1 cities saw contraction.

What will be the key to success for the GBA ?

A key portion of the value of the GBA sits in the diversity of culture, knowledge and expertise that makes up its population. The importance of cultural exchange, both within the cities that make up the GBA, and with other parts of the world will be essential in its development. By combining the international focus of Hong Kong with the fast-paced start-up culture of Shenzhen and the established business processes of Guangzhou – the Greater Bay Area stands to enjoy a unique advantage.

Is ‘copy cat China’ still a fair stereotype and how can Chinese brands navigate this?

China is certainly far more than just a market of copy cats, particularly when it comes to technology. If you have ever tried to describe WeChat to someone from the West, then you will know how hard it is to find an equivalent platform to compare it to. Whilst it is certainly true that China has been able to learn from some of the early overseas innovators, as a country it has made unique solutions, and brands coming out of the GBA should not be afraid to make clear their unique selling points.

What about the US-China trade war?

Of course, we can’t talk about China and overseas interactions, without bringing up its current trade war with the US. Whilst any restrictions on trade will (and currently are) having an impact on China, it is clear to see that both bay areas are suffering as a result. Ultimately the two areas have always been deeply intertwined and will continue to be reliant on each other long into the future.

What are some of the challenges of growing awareness in China?

When it comes to growing a brand in China, flexibility seems to be the key to success. This is particularly essential when it comes to brand positioning. The way consumers view your brand in the west may be completely different from the perception of those in China.

Take Pizza Hut as an example. In the west, it is viewed almost solely as a takeaway brand with few eat-in locations. However, in China Pizza Hut noticed a gap in the market and has successfully positioned itself as a mid-range pizza restaurant, ideal for dates or meals with friends. It’s this ability to be flexible that enables brands to spot opportunities to reposition for greater success when entering the Chinese market.

What’s the best advice for companies entering or expanding from China?

The top 3 pieces of advice that we regularly hear from clients are:

1. Flexibility


As covered above, flexibility and a willingness to pivot have been essential to the success of inbound/outbound brands

2. Patience


It has taken some companies several years - and a few failed attempts - to successfully crack the China market

3. Budget


The investment needed to expand globally should not be underestimated, be it into or out of China.

For those of us working in the communications sector, it is important that we continue to educate our clients or colleagues about the rapidly changing landscape in southern China, as the opportunities that the Greater Bay Area have to offer are just beginning to become apparent.

PRHK Viewpoints is an article series contributed by members of PRHK, Hong Kong’s PR & communications association. This piece was written by  Keso Kendall, general manager, Bay Area, Greater China at LEWIS and a board ambassador of PRHK.

Hong Kong lays claim one of the highest rates of mobile and internet penetration in the world, and competition among its various service providers is getting fierce. Other than focusing on better customer segmentation, collaborations with other industries could be a way to stand out. esb电竞数据投注电脑版's Simon Yuen talked to 3 Hong Kong's (3HK) management about the company's marketing strategies and future development.

According to the Office of the Communications Authority, as of September 2018, Hong Kong boasts more than 19 million mobile subscribers, meaning the city’s mobile subscriber penetration rate has reached an incredible 256.7%. That's an average of 2.5 mobile phones per person.

With that level of saturation, cut-throat competition is forcing telecommunications service providers to refine their offerings and services. 3HK is choosing to focus on enhancing its own products, pricing, and promotions, to capture the hearts of customers.

"Our products are not just about data roaming and telecommunications services,” says Kenny Koo, executive director and CEO of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong. “We strengthen our portfolio with FinTech partners, insurance companies, and the health and beauty industry, aiming to diversify the scope of our work.”

The telecommunications company’s most recent move was the revamp of 3Supreme to expand the brand's relationship with high-spending customers beyond the usual data packages and handsets. In addition to two new tariff plans, a select number of customers can enjoy the lavish privilege of a concierge service, which includes ticket sourcing for concerts, performances, sports events, and exhibitions. The tariff plan also goes as far as to offer travel itinerary planning and travel emergency assistance services, as well as opportunities for customers to attend premium lifestyle events.

“We have developed a segmentation strategy and competitive pricing to target various groups, and premium services are one of the sources to enhance our income,” said Koo.

3HK has also launched its Getaway Travel Service, which offers travel data and unlimited talk time for both incoming and outgoing calls to Hong Kong.

“We aim to provide a localised local mobile experience while eliminating traditionally-expensive roaming charges to frequent travellers. They don’t have to rely on another SIM card or a portable WiFi to travel aboard,” he explains.

In September 2018, 3HK collaborated with the online lending platform WeLend which enabled 3HK customers to get a new phone and at the same time receive a cash loan of up to double the total contract value. Powered by the strong customer base of 3HK and WeLend’s advancement of FinTech, Koo said this collaboration was an attempt to tap into the market of microloans.

While the prospect of 5G being in widespread use is still a reality further down the pipeline for Hong Kongers, 3HK has been testing and trialling the network since 2017. Last November, the telecommunications company completed a 5G outdoor network trial in the 3.5-GHz and 28-GHz spectrum bands ahead of the commercial availability of the tech. 3HK believes that it was the first Hong Kong mobile operator to complete a live outdoor 5G trial broadcast.

Koo said the company has been working with different operators before an official launch, and that more details will be unveiled in the near future. However, the development of 5G has closely circled the issue of cybersecurity, with Chinese telecommunications equipment and consumer electronics manufacturer Huawei being thrown into a questionable spotlight. The potential for data leaks has worried governments and members of the public alike in several countries, with some regions outright restricting 5G development by the company.

But on the subject of data concerns, Koo said the company has tried its utmost to protect customer privacy and stated that a dedicated team has been established to monitor and handle data.

“Huawei is one of the leading providers of telecommunications equipment in Hong Kong. We consider both cost and security while developing new products and collaborations with other parties. A company we have worked with before doesn’t mean that it will easily get our contract, we treat all contractors fairly,” Koo concludes.

To celebrate Galaxy series’ 10th anniversary, Samsung has launched the new Galaxy S10 smartphone series, packed with plenty of technological innovations and breakthroughs.

The series includes three key models - Galaxy @10+, S10 and S10e. Key features include the world’s first dynamic active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display and on-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, and a professional-grade camera which offers DSLR-quality photos.

Samsung has also launched the Galaxy Watch Active, a smartwatch which combines sports and fashion, and wireless earbuds Galaxy Buds.

In an exclusive interview with esb电竞数据投注电脑版 , Yiyin Zhao, managing director of Samsung Electronics HK, says the new series redefines the world’s smartphone standards.

"Samsung has been committed to delivering groundbreaking innovations for a decade, bringing a superior smart mobile experience to consumers. We specially designed three models for the Galaxy S10 in hopes of meeting the needs of different consumers by offering users a variety of options for the best value,” she explains.

Yet, educating customers to better understand new product features could be an issue for smartphone brands and Zhao says hands-on experiential marketing is the key to overcoming the learning curve.  For example, Samsung set up the Galaxy Studio at MOKO, Mong Kok last year, which allowed visitors to enjoy the Galaxy S9 series and an AR emoji experience. And i n August 2018, Samsung created its first pop-up Samsung Cafe in Causeway Bay, showcasing how the Galaxy Note 9 series was integrating lifestyle into the brand.

High-quality cameras, wireless power-sharing and gaming experiences are some of the areas that Hong Kong users are particularly fond of and the Korean tech giant has positioned itself as an industry leader offering innovation for some time.

But Zhao elaborates that Samsung offers meaningful innovations which matter to users:  “Over the past 10 years, Samsung has made breakthroughs in five aspects, such as the display, camera, storage, security and performance. Our smartphones allow them [consumers] to entertain themselves and work, connecting people to their lives.”

Zhao believes that as Hong Kong is an advanced market, customers in the city need the latest products and functionality to enrich their lives.

“Hong Kong people prefer more storage space and security is another top priority. We incorporate every component in our own factory, guaranteeing the quality and functions of the entire phone,” she opines.

However, Samsung is doing far more than the manufacturing of components, Samsung also offers Samsung Knox, a mobile security platform pre-installed in most of Samsung's smartphones, tablets, and wearables. And i n late 2017, Samsung collaborated with Octopus to launch Smart Octopus. Zhao concludes that Samsung is working on 5G as well.

“As a technology leader in Hong Kong, we will work with all stakeholders to build a smart city for the people in Hong Kong."



As part of our International Women's Day coverage, esb电竞数据投注电脑版 talked to Allison Coley, CEO, North Asia of Wavemaker about how women can impact the industry, as well as the opportunities and challenges women are facing and her career.

Over the years, what has changed since you first joined the industry?

"I joined the industry straight out of university and have only worked in three agencies since [Coley has been with MEC/Wavemaker since 2004]. Naturally, the industry has massively changed over the years – things like programmatic and eCommerce didn’t exist when I started.  As an industry, we love to obsess over how dynamic and fast-paced our industry is (which is accurate). But in many ways, nothing has changed – clients expect and deserve smart, energetic and passionate people to look after their brands.  As agency leads, this means we must be focused on finding diverse and ‘unexpected’ talent to keep us moving forward. We need mavericks – people that we are drawn to, even if they scare us slightly – in order to keep us at our best."

What leadership traits should women adopt or demonstrate in the industry and generally, what skills are needed in leadership for all genders?

"Woman leaders (as well as leaders in general) must be receptive and open-minded. Sociology shows us that people are predisposed to show favour to people who are like them and to be biased against people who are different. In order to recruit and retain people who bring a diversity of perspective, thinking and approach, it is critical to actively seek out ‘different’ and celebrate individuality."

What is the importance of female leadership and the trends in the industry?

"Everyone looks for role models – this is true across gender and age.  So in order for us to maintain women in the industry throughout their career lifetime, we need to make sure they’ve got a positive role model.  For me, that role model has confidence, passion and knows when to be firm and when to nurture. I am heartened to witness the industry taking a more open and receptive approach; more discussions about gender equality, more women stepping up to power, being seen and heard. For instance, in Wavemaker, 50% of our Asia Pacific leaders are women; of whom over 40% of these women leaders are CEOs.  But there is still more to do – particularly when it comes to the keynote or panel speakers at most industry events."

Are there any biases or stereotypes still hindering women reaching the top at media agencies?

"Unconscious biases are hard-wired into our brains and despite our best conscious intentions, they can be challenging to circumvent. Biases are ‘mental shortcuts’ to help us make sense of the millions of pieces of information we are faced with at any given moment. And whilst these shortcuts are meant to help us process data at an incredibly fast speed – our brains are not perfect and we too often make spurious assumptions about people.  We cannot undo these basic instincts, but by raising awareness of this human tendency, we can consciously make more informed decisions.

So most of the time and conversations are on ‘teaching’ women how to be strong/confident/have a voice. But I think we need to spend equal or more time helping men learn to be aware of any biases they may have.  This isn’t just about women changing their behaviours in order to thrive in a ‘man’s world’.  It has to go both ways in order to reach true equality."

What are the major challenges women in the industry are facing today?

"Everyone, men and women alike, faces workplace challenges – client deadlines, getting the next promotion, navigating politics, being a good person outside of work. The way these stresses manifest themselves tends to be different across gender/age/ethnicity/etc.  So rather than call out the challenges that women face vs. men, I prefer to focus on the dialogues on how leaders can identify the specific challenges someone in our teams is facing and then work together to sort it out.  My role as a leader is to help everyone in our business have the best career they can – and that will look different for different people.

As WPP, we have signed a partnership declaration with UN Women in September last year to take continued steps and efforts in supporting and celebrating the successes of women. Wavemaker has supported UN Women’s initiatives such as the ‘Buy to Save’ program in Singapore, and upcoming plans are in place this year to ensure that our outreach and partnership deepens. Wavemaker is also a proud partner of the Women Leading Change Awards – a 2-part event where diversity issues are discussed at conference, and successful women who have made an impact in their industry and community are celebrated."

What is the importance of having a “right mix” in the office and nurturing young female talents?

"Research (and common sense) tells us that diversity and gender balance leads to a better working environment and better work for clients. The improvements in work stem from a more energetic and dynamic culture that fosters creativity and innovation If you fill a room with like-minded people, you will only ever get one idea. Throw in some mavericks into that room and the ideas are endless."

Any advice for women in media agencies to pursue their careers and increase their chances of success?

"Be a role model or hero to a young female in the business. Everyone needs a cheerleader in their corner and if you aren’t taking the time to do that for someone in your company/team, then you are only contributing to the problem.

Be brave enough to be uncomfortable: We all have a tendency to ‘like people like us’ (this is an ‘affinity bias’); it’s comfortable to surround yourself with people who are similar to you. Unconscious bias operates when there is a lack of information, so push yourself, and your team, to seek out opportunities to immerse yourselves in environments where you may be out of your comfort zone."

Future gazing to 2035?

The start of the new year, calendar or lunar, is always time to look ahead to the future. Traditionally, trend forecasting is limited to the next 12 months. So, you might think that looking ahead sixteen years to 2035 may be a bit of stretch. But last week the PRC government in Beijing supported by the SAR government in Hong Kong gave us a blueprint of what life might look like in the 2030s in its “Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.”

The Plan is a coordinated urban and economic planning blueprint covering Hong Kong, Macao, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and seven other municipalities around the Pearl River Delta region aka the Greater Bay Area. The area in question covers 56,000 square kilometres and 70 million residents. Modelled on the likes of San Francisco Bay and Tokyo Bay, the goal is to create a globally competitive business, innovation and technology hub centred on a world-class city cluster. It includes building a new system of open economy that will open the region up to greater international cooperation, improve the livelihood of its residents, and provide a blueprint for the opening up of the rest of China.

2035 was defined as the milestone date when the Plan reaches its maturity. The Public Relations and communications sector is not mentioned per se in the Plan (and neither is marketing and advertising). However, what is clear is that the ideas contained in the Plan have some significant implications for how the roles of everyone involved in the sector are set to change.

Here are my takeaways:

Territorial boundaries will be redrawn

The Greater Bay Area will break down traditional boundaries around which communications in the Greater China region are planned and administered. The Plan envisions an integrated region with a population the size of Thailand living and working across the territorial boundaries in place today. For many organizations, it will make sense to treat the Greater Bay Area as a distinct entity separate from the rest of mainland China, to treat Hong Kong/Macao as part of the same region and to manage it from within rather than from Beijing or Shanghai.

Helping more Chinese companies go global

Some of China’s biggest global companies like Huawei, Tencent, DJI and BYD, already call Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area home. The Plan has been created to help others emulate that achievement. Communicators of tomorrow will need to be as adroit in local, regional and global strategy as they are today. But the likelihood is that the Greater Bay Area will be the central hub of much more global strategy than it is in 2019.

Hong Kong: The Gateway to China. Again.

Under this new model, Hong Kong need not necessarily be the de facto communications management hub. But, there is good reason to assume that it won’t automatically lose its position to say, Shenzhen or Guangzhou.

First, there are already organizations in Shenzhen that preferentially make use of the experience that communications teams in Hong Kong have in managing international relations.

Second, the Plan outlines that each city hub should maintain its distinctiveness and build on its existing strengths rather than duplicating the skills found in another. For Hong Kong, its value-added service industry sector – including communications – is one of those strengths. Hong Kong has all of the chops to own the hub role. But teams will need to work hard in the future to maintain that position.

It’s not all about tech

The Outline Development Plan envisions a tech and innovation hub to rival Silicon Valley. But it’s not all about tech. The Plan references 16 other industries besides tech that will be critical to fulfilling the vision and the needs of the people living within it. Among these are tourism, education, healthcare, engineering, sport and agriculture. All of these will require communications support. The region may be tech focused, but it will need communications specialists with expertise across a similar spectrum of industries we see today.

Under the banner of technology and innovation, the communications sector is set to thrive in the Greater Bay Area. Hong Kong cannot be complacent in defining its role in this newly emerging ecosystem. It would be too easy to be overcome with paranoia that Hong Kong will lose its edge and relevance. If the doubters take over, that will certainly happen.

The reality is that the Outline Development Plan is a clarion call for Hong Kong to recapture its position as an epicenter in the global economy; providing simultaneously unique access to one of the world’s most important economic regions as well as a conduit for outflowing trade. To respond, there will be greater demand for global communication skills and experience alongside the ability to craft regional scopes across the Asia Pacific. It is the local footprint that will change the most dramatically as populations and the media they rely on adapt to the new Bay Area dynamic and organizations flex in how to best manage it.

PRHK Viewpoints is an article series contributed by members of PRHK, Hong Kong’s PR & communications association. This piece was written by   Simeon Mellalieu, partner, client development Asia-Pacific for Ketchum and honorary secretary of PRHK.

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