Digital Marketing in Hong Kong: What Makes It Different?

While digital marketing in Hong Kong seems to be the same as with its other international neighbors, there are key differences marketers always need to pay attention to. Tackling such a subject is important, because audiences and consumers in Hong Kong can be vastly different compared to their neighboring countries, especially depending on the industry in question. Understanding some basic principles behind the nuances of Hong Kong’s digital marketing scene can be a vital aid to ensuring success in both local and global SEO. What are these differences, and how can you use these to your advantage?

Traditional media presence means tackling not just digital

When it comes to Hong Kong, it helps to remember that its digital marketing scene is still rising up. This is especially because the Hong Kong market has gotten used to traditional methods of media like TV and radio. If you want to appeal to the Hong Kong market, you need to grasp not just current digital marketing methods, but how you can leverage on existing media to your advantage as a digital marketer.

  • Hong Kong has a developing digital marketing landscape, but it’s a bit behind other Asian countries. As per a study of the Hong Kong Digital Marketing Association, by 2021, budgets for online ad spending will be at 34-percent, and TV spending will be around 14-percent. In the same year, it’s projected that neighbors in China and Korea will have 70-percent and 50-percent allocation to online spending, respectively. This means if you want to get into the marketing game in Hong Kong, you can’t solely rely on digital – you still have to consider how your digital campaigns work with traditional marketing methods.
  • Businesses in Hong Kong don’t seem to be fully converted into digital, either. Building on the above point, an article pointed out that 50-percent of SMBs they interviewed in Hong Kong believe digital is important to their business. This slow adoption of digital marketing methods might explain lower digital spend, meaning your marketing approach should be different as well. 
  • Given how traditional media still remains popular in Hong Kong, your marketing spend shouldn’t solely rely on digital. You should also consider integrating television ads, newspaper ads, and even physical marketing materials – flyers, billboards and the like – to aid your digital spend. This might seem a bit costly at the beginning, but the shift to digital can be easier once you’ve started building your own brand in Hong Kong. 


All set for innovations in digital marketing

Just because Hong Kong has a traditional side doesn’t mean it’s not open to expansion. In fact, the influx of younger professionals in the market means a rise of young marketers familiar with more modern methods of digital marketing. This means if you want to appeal to audiences in Hong Kong, you can also choose to provide services and products geared to more technology-savvy younger audiences.

  • Mobile audiences likely remain a huge market in Hong Kong, especially thanks to the presence of young professionals that are always glued in their phones. In a WE ARE SOCIAL study, there are 12-million mobile subscriptions in the city – which is 165-percent of the whole population. To compare, France only has 101-percent internet penetration rate, and it’s 8-times as populated as Hong Kong. This means you have a huge potential market if you prioritize digital marketing as a main method of reaching audiences.
  • It’s not just Google’s game in Hong Kong. If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge and something new to tackle, you can do digital marketing in Hong Kong and take on a vastly different landscape for search engines. Say, if you want your business to be known, you can’t just prioritize Google. And while Google remains a leader in Hong Kong, you have to consider Yahoo! as well. Given Hong Kong’s proximity to the mainland, you have to consider their own search engines as well – including Baidu, Shenma, and Haosou.  
  • You should also note that China isn’t that far off from Hong Kong, which means a part of your digital marketing considerations should involve including mainland Chinese audiences for your brand. This also means you should consider adopting digital marketing methods and campaigns that can appeal to a mainland audience to boost your reach. Should you succeed in this regard, you can easily have two (2) huge sets of audiences for your brand.


Diverse and multicultural atmosphere is perfect for newcomers

If you want a market for innovative products and services, Hong Kong is definitely a place you should check out. Its diverse and multicultural atmosphere makes it the perfect place to start building a brand, especially in new fields. Unlike other places around the world, the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong shows it’s advanced enough to support multiple industries but also culturally diverse in that it can cater to businesses of very different or even super specific niches.

  • Hong Kong actually demonstrates an audience that speaks three (3) major world languages. This is thanks to Hong Kong’s location and status as a world leader in various international industries. As such, while Hong Kong has Chinese and English as official languages, a lot of people in Hong Kong also speak Mandarin. The main language is Cantonese or traditional Chinese, while Mandarin or simplified Chinese is also prevalent. This means multilingual websites, applications, or campaigns can have a lot of reach if you use them properly. Having various language options can be extremely advantageous for you in this regard.
  • It’s also important to consider the influx of tourists in Hong Kong, as their presence can be extremely helpful in terms of boosting your sales. While they might not necessarily be “loyal” customers, word-of-mouth can be an extremely popular marketing tool, especially among tourists. Consider marketing to them as well. 
  • If you want to fully pursue digital, you’ll likely have an audience in Hong Kong, regardless of slow adoption of digital campaigns by SMBs. Statistics show that 80-percent of smartphones in Hong Kong are owned by 10- to 14-year-olds, while 90-percent of people aged 15 to 64 have them as well. 
  • And despite slow adoption for digital, people also spend a fair amount of time on their phones as well – around 2.5-hours, compared to the 1.5-hours spent watching TV. While there’s an hour’s worth of difference, people still watch a lot of TV in Hong Kong, so it’s not surprising that TV ad spend is helpful as well. 


Digital Marketing in Hong Kong: Tradition Meets Potential

With the above in mind, it helps to understand that Hong Kong’s digital marketing scene shouldn’t be treated as “traditional,” nor should it be treated as “completely modern.” This fine line between tradition and the “future” allows marketers to have a ton of opportunities to utilize various marketing methods to attract Hong Kong audiences in multiple ways. At first glance, this might seem a bit confusing to some digital marketers. However, once you get the hang of understanding such a multicultural and diverse audience, you might soon find it fun to appeal to the Hong Kong audience, as their approach to digital marketing will always keep you on your toes.