Key market trends, opportunities in new normal in Hong Kong

Filipino exporters are urged to tap the huge business opportunities offered by Hong Kong as more consumers become health-conscious amid the pandemic.

Roberto Mabalot Jr., Vice Consul (Commercial) and Commercial Attache of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PITC) Hong Kong, SAR, said health trends are redefined under the epidemic situation, and people are pursuing a more “pure” healthy diet.

“A lot of individuals due to the pandemic are trying to be much healthier because of the uncertainty of the Covid virus. Here in Hong Kong, I noticed that a lot of restaurants have already been offering a lot of vegetarian options, plant-based meat,” he said.

Citing the Euromonitor International, Mabalot said products that enhance immunity and reduce and relieve stress become more important, while natural health food and alternative functional food make people’s body and mind more resilient in the face of the epidemic.

Mabalot said the packaged food industry was “less affected” in Hong Kong even though there is a movement into healthier diet among the consumers.

“The frozen food sector has been very, very lucrative as of the moment because a lot of individuals are going to the supermarkets, groceries and in a way hoarding or buying many food that they would consume and cook at home instead of going to the restaurants, the physical stores of the restaurants,” he added.

Amid these market trends, Mabalot underscored the need for companies to undertake innovative ideas to adjust to the new normal and attract more consumers, noting there is no way to “business as usual” as before.

“The increasing demand for ingredients that can enhance immunity and relieve stress will promote innovation in the food and catering industry. Due to their poor financial ability, many new brands will not survive,” he said.

“The decline in consumer purchasing power will also put pressure on the more expensive pure handmade brands,” he added.

Mabalot said establishments have to also immediately adjust to an ecommerce platform as consumption behavior is “not as good as before”.

“The Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic has accelerated the development of online retail, and streamlined the process of buying and returning products. The “frictionless retail” which achieves the goal of “retail service” has been directly linked to consumers through the internet. “Direct-to-consumer (D2C)” marketing has become the mainstream,” he said.

Mabalot said online shopping and services have increased due to the new normal in Hong Kong.

He said Hong Kong currently is one of the top four markets with the largest net growth in the use of online services by major grocery retailers, and also ranks among the top four in terms of online shopping service usage growth in non-grocery areas.

“The convenience of online shopping is the key to promoting the application of digital channels. Consumers are also paying more and more attention to the convenience of home delivery and local shopping,” he added.

This, as “stay at home economy” has become a market trend in the new normal in Hong Kong, similar with other countries around the world.

“The demand for take-out platforms, e-commerce online shopping, online conference, video and entertainment industries, has increased greatly, and they have risen in the face of the adverse market,” he said.

Mabalot said 90 percent of the Hong Kong population has been using Facebook.

“So Facebook is the best social media platform for individuals and businesses to use to find out if their products would work,” he said.

In terms of categories bought more online, Mabalot said household cleaning products are still in great demand in Hong Kong amid the pandemic, followed by frozen food, health supplements, hand cream/moisturizer, and organic products.

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