When one talks about the state of commerce in the Asian region, the one thing that stands out is the rapid digital transformation that took place during the height of the pandemic. A recent survey by KPMG found that Hong Kong consumers are increasingly embracing digital channels, with 85 per cent of respondents reporting digital interactions with leading brands, an 8 per cent increase compared to 2021. “Hong Kong consumers value time and convenience in their purchasing journeys. Local gr
cal grocery retailers are expanding their online to offline (O2O) business to feed the needs for immediate purchases,” Anson Bailey, partner and head of consumer and retail for KPMG in APAC, told Inside Retail.
Integrity and personalisation were listed as the leading pillars driving customer advocacy and loyalty in Hong Kong, while the leading sectors were grocery and non-grocery retail. Brands such as Adidas, Apple, Decathlon, DHL, Ikea, Lululemon, Marks & Spencer, Netflix and Sun Life were the main leaders in the CX space, according to the survey.
Interestingly, the survey found out that digital banking has become the new standard and is the gateway to personalised products and services.
Bailey explained that tech-savvy Gen Z consumers still want an immersive physical retail store experience. As a result, retailers need to leverage data and collaborate with stakeholders, as well as financial institutions, to curate a seamless omnichannel customer experience.
“Omnichannel and a seamless purchase experience has now become expected as the norm. Retail is becoming more about physical presence and promotion with online ordering and delivery being the actual purchase point,” he said.
The survey also found a rising trend of online specialty grocery retailers in Hong Kong targeting niche customers with special offerings, such as organic or imported fresh products. These players are attracting young customers through immersive websites that are embedded into social media.
To keep up with their online specialty counterparts, incumbent grocery brands have redesigned their retail store concepts to promote fresh, premium and sustainably sourced products, curating seasonal items sourced from around the globe.
Joint loyalty programmes are also another important facet of the overall marketing mix in the grocery sector, creating a new ecosystem of value propositions and ultimately changing consumer behaviour.
These super-loyalty programmes are a response to consumers expecting faster loyalty rewards collection, more flexible points redemption and experiential benefits in exchange for their allegiance and continuous spending.
They also enable brands to operate membership programmes without enormous investments that have a limited return as a result of the restricted size of the Hong Kong market.
The survey predicted that the prospect of a ‘cookieless’ future is inevitable as consumer awareness of ethical data collection and privacy concerns have become heightened. Therefore, loyalty programmes will be the key to enabling brands to ethically and safely collect meaningful and accurate customer insights at scale to create better connected and personalised customer journeys.
Experience is the new product
The survey found that Hong Kong consumers expect their shopping experiences to be exceptional, immersive and content-rich. They also want it to flow seamlessly across all touch-points, combining the convenience of online shopping with the service of offline retail.
For example, Today at Apple is Apple’s creative initiative which offers customers photography, videography, and other hobby classes, both online and in Apple’s retail stores, to educate and inspire customers to go further with their passions and products.
Knowledgeable and qualified retail staff, coupled with a strong interior concept for retail stores, are highlighted as the key elements to a seamless integration between online and offline shopping experiences.
With 2023 just around the corner, KPMG has a number of recommendations for retailers. One of the biggest takeaways is the need for retailers to have customer-centric solutions and an agile mindset to respond to customer expectations.
In these uncertain times, it’s imperative that businesses embrace unpredictability. Leveraging data and advanced analytics to achieve personalised offerings is key.
Treating everyone as a customer can go a long way as well. It’s time for retailers to go beyond the omnichannel experience and provide relevant, timely and empathetic products and services.
Ultimately, integrity will continue to be the biggest driver for consumer advocacy. This is true not only in Hong Kong, but the world over. Businesses must empower their workforce and align their values with daily operations and engagement initiatives.