Dominic Allon
May 29, 2015

Mind the mobile gap in Hong Kong

Mobile holds the key to winning Hong Kong’s consumer hearts and wallets.

Mind the mobile gap in Hong Kong

Mobile holds the key to winning Hong Kong’s consumer hearts and wallets.

Hong Kong consumers have changed forever, and it’s all because of mobile. Those mighty-powerful mini computers that sit in our pockets, and in our palms, have evolved our world and become an indispensable extension of our lives. While this admittedly sounds like a big claim, it’s actually nothing new. A trip on the city’s subway system or a walk along the street could tell you that. What’s new is the way mobile has kick-started a change in the way Hong Kong people consume media, and there’s no going back. But are Hong Kong brands and businesses on the same page? Or should I say screen?

When Hongkongers are watching TV, it would appear that we are not paying attention. Almost half of us (46 per cent) are looking up something on another screen, and 94 per cent of those multi-taskers say what they’re looking at is not related to the TV show at all. They're searching for information, watching a video, messaging someone, and buying something. Why? Because they simply can’t wait for the TV show to be over: they want to do it right now.

Why does this matter?

And it’s not just TV-time that’s taking a hit. Anyone who has ever been waiting for a cab, or in line at the supermarket, will know the force of this impulse. We no longer take to our phones intently to browse for periods of time; we reflexively turn to them to act on a need, filled with intent and purpose.

  • 14 per cent of Hongkongers use only their mobile phone to go online. That means they’re only able to interact with a brand online via the use of a smartphone. The smartphone is the only device they turn to
  • While researching a product, 13 per cent of Hongkongers perform a location search at the same time - perhaps for a shop to make the purchase
  • One third (33 per cent) of us are using our smartphone primarily to look things up such as traffic, travel, maps and other information 

Despite the clear love for mobile in the market, a staggering 39 per cent say they encounter issues when trying to use a brand’s mobile site, with 16 per cent of those giving up to go and find another site to fulfil their needs.

What does this mean for brands?

The rules have changed. Today's battle for hearts, minds, and dollars is won (or lost) depending on how well brands understand these new behaviours on mobile. Those smartphones we love so dearly haven’t just taught us how to get hold of someone quickly, or how to answer a question we don’t know the answer to. They’ve taught us to expect a lot from our favourite brands and the businesses we love. We want them to immediately deliver exactly what we are looking for, when we are looking for it. And with more than one in seven Hongkongers going online exclusively with a smartphone, it’s become more critical than ever for brands to get this right. And if they don’t, it’s the modern day equivalent of drawing a curtain on your shop window when people walk by, and let’s face it, what business would do that?

The notion that a brand needs to ‘go mobile’ has become almost irrelevant. In 2015 and beyond, brands don’t just need to be there, they need to be there and they need to be doing the right things to make sure these moments of impulse don’t fall through the gap, straight into the hands of another brand.

Dominic Allon is Managing Director of Google Hong Kong




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