Staff Reporters
Jul 9, 2018

Hong Kong's top mobile-friendly brands

Convenience and the time-saving courtesy of smart mobile-first design win favour among Hong Kong's on-the-go populace. But what comes next?

Hong Kong's top mobile-friendly brands

As part of our look at Hong Kong's top brands of 2018, which is part of our Asia's Top 1000 Brands report, we found that Hong Kong consumers see Apple, Google, Samsung and Yahoo as the top mobile-friendly brands, with HSBC, Taobao, Amazon, Citibank, Starbucks and Nike also rating highly. Then we asked four in-market observers for their insights.

How do you react to these results? What are these brands doing right on mobile?

Ben Hui, head of digital, IPG Mediabrands Hong Kong: What these brands are able to do is integrate their services via an app or mobile site that blends into the daily life of the public/consumer. Hong Kong is a city where time is money, and everyone is always in a rush. If the Starbucks app allows me to save a few minutes when I make my daily coffee order, and cuts my total transition time (from walking into the door, to lining up, to payment, to picking up my order) faster by 50%, those are a few extra minutes the Hong Kong public would want to stay in bed. After all, Hong Kong has some of the longest working hours out of all the APAC markets.

Jacqueline Alexis Thng, partner, Prophet: The results have some expected but also surprising results. I’m surprised Yahoo Is in the Top 20 as it’s fast losing its brand relevance especially in Asia. I am not surprised HSBC is in the Top 20, as it is one of the most popular banks for Hong Kongers. However, compared to many banks, HSBC has one of the worst digital experiences, including mobile.

Supriya Jain, client director, Lion & Lion Hong Kong: Brands like Apple, Google, Starbucks and Nike have a strong focus on 'mobile-first' consumers in a market where 83% of the population uses smartphones. These brands provide a seamless browsing and purchasing experience on mobile, coupled with strong brand image, leads to high popularity among consumers.

On the other hand, brands like HSBC, Taobao and Citibank have invested heavily in catering to the needs of mobile consumers (Payme HSBC app, Citi mobile app, Taobao app) which not only localise the experience, but also provide the social networking aspects of sharing purchases with friends.

What are the key factors that set brands apart on mobile?

Owen Smith, head of strategy, Grey Group Hong Kong: Unfortunately, ‘doesn’t crash’ may still be one of the biggest factors for mobile success. But beyond that a lot of it is about being helpful—moving past just making existing information or services easily available through mobile devices and starting to think about how you can make life less annoying or add extra smiles to someone’s day.

Jain: 'Mobile friendly' is a seamless browsing, exploring and purchasing experience on mobile—it's not just a responsive website which is adapted from a desktop version. It requires a 'mobile-first' design, which is tailored specifically for mobile-heavy consumers. HSBC, Citibank and Taobao have succeeded in providing a seamless experience, and some brands like Starbucks, HSBC and Taobao actually own first party-data via apps, which helps them personalise their offers to consumers based on usage.

Hui: Being easy to use: two to three clicks/interaction and I get the results I want. Keep records of my transactions, ie know my purchase history for the last 10 uses or more. Design for mobile: I don’t need to pitch or pull in order to see the content. The position of button and click areas are finger friendly.

Which social-media platforms can really make or break brands in Hong Kong?

Smith: Platforms can’t really make or break brands. There are plenty of brands with presence on all the biggest social media platforms that never get noticed. What makes or breaks brands is being worthy of people’s time and attention wherever, however they show up in the world.

Thng: Looking ahead, the rise of AI, chatbots and messenger apps over social-media platforms will change the brand engagement of brands with customers. Many brands are beginning to design features to better support customers on such platforms. A good example is Marriott with its Liyu WeChat concierge support services for Chinese travelers. Similarly, brands like AXA have partnered with Facebook to improve their digital experience with their messenger service support.

Hui: Instagram is a great platform that not only allows a brand to be discovered, but its visual appeal makes day-to-day items look cool and fun (with the help of filters and emoijs). Also, it can not only display product but also what is interesting about Instagram for a brand is that it is a platform that allows a brand to show their personality. I started following Kowloon Dairy here in Hong Kong a few weeks ago. Their dairy products are not just a product shot, but rather they use their product as part of artwork, to create a fun and enjoyable brand. Most importantly, it drives me to want to see more of their content or get excited when I see a new piece of content on my feed.

Jain: The two platforms which are and have been popular in Hong Kong for the past couple of years are Facebook and Instagram, with brands driving incremental engagement especially via Instagram, due to more innovation. International brands like Nike and fashion brands like Grana have been at the forefront of Instagram activation with a strong use of innovative formats, for example Nike’s promotions during  World Cup. YouTube is an equally popular platform for social-media users, as consumer are interested in content related to entertainment and lifestyle.

The next channel to make a breakthrough will be WhatsApp for Business. There is already a high consumer base using WhatsApp on a regular basis, and they will be looking forward to personalised brand experiences on this channel.

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