Shiseido launches Urara

And other news in Greater China

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TOKYO--Shiseido Co. introduced a skin care brand in China on Oct. 1 to expand its business in the mainland. Called Urara, it is available at all cosmetics stores and department store counters carrying Shiseido products in the mainland. The Japanese cosmetics company entered the Chinese market in 1981 and last year more than 1,000 stores sold its products. By the end of this year, that number is expected to top 1,700, and expand to more than 5,000 by 2008.

The mass-market brand was developed specifically for the Chinese market to meet rising demand for products that moisturize skin and provide a brighter complexion, according to a company statement. The initial line of 13 products sells for $11-28, putting it up against other foreign-made brands like Procter & Gamble’s Cover Girl and L’Oreal’s Maybelline. Both rival brands have grown significantly in the past year.

Dentsu launches mobile marketing company in China
TOKYO--To expand its business in one of China’s fastest-growing areas, mobile marketing, Dentsu has set up a joint venture called Beijing Dianyi Advertising Co. with two other Tokyo-based internet companies, CA Mobile and Cyber Communications. The joint venture will offer a one-stop service for ad delivery and ad sales in the mainland, home to 426 million mobile phone subscribers, the world’s largest mobile phone market.

The research firm Analysys International estimates China has 80 million mobile phone subscribers using internet-capable handsets, a figure projected to reach 250 million by 2008. The high response rate of mobile campaigns “has led to significant interest in mobile advertising,” according to a report out this month from Norsen Telecom Consulting in Beijing.

Dentsu honed its mobile marketing expertise in Japan, the first country worldwide to develop a popular, widespread 3G mobile phone service, DoCoMo’s i-mode. In 2005, Dentsu estimated Japan’s mobile ad market was worth $240 million. Dentsu has several interactive joint ventures in Japan. The most recent, a joint venture with Opt named Moo, short for Mobile Only One, was established last July.

Hong Kong's upscale residents outspend and outperform rest of Asia
HONG KONG--Affluent Hong Kong residents are returning to tradition, with over 70% indicating that they are more responsive to advertising in Cantonese, their mother tongue. Also, trust in advertising has grown by 31% over the previous year, and 34% of Hong Kong's wealthy now agree that they have great trust in products they have seen advertised, according to the 2006 PAX media survey.

Conducted by Aegis Group’s market research company, Synovate, the survey tracks media, prosperity and influence among affluent consumers in eleven markets across the Asia/Pacific region.

The survey showed that the average monthly household income of Hong Kong's affluent residents has remained relatively steady in the past year, increasing slightly from $8,320 to $8,456, but they are becoming increasingly self-confident and finding new ways to spend their disposable income. Hong Kong has the region's highest credit card ownership (91.7%) and Asia’s most conspicuous consumers.

Over the past year, “we can see Hong Kong's economic confidence translates into some of the region's highest levels of product ownership, combined with continuing growth in purchase intentions and significant lifestyle improvements,” said Steve Garton, Synovate’s London-based global head of media.

Hong Kong residents now have the highest rate of home internet access with 84.2%, an increase of 13% over the year. Internet access at work has grown by 17% to 62.8%, while overall internet access of 89.3% has also grown by 13% to become the region's second highest rate after the Australian cities of Sydney (93.4%) and Melbourne (91.9%).

Just over one quarter of Hong Kong respondents (25.4%) now own a handheld PC or personal digital assistant (PDA), the highest rate across the region. Ownership of mobile phones with internet access has grown substantially to 67.4% of Hong Kong PAX respondents, a 21% increase in uptake over the year.

Hong Kong has very high levels of digital still and video camera ownership. Both have grown over the last year to 85% (along with Taiwan, the region's highest) and 56.3% respectively. The ownership of LCD or plasma televisions has also risen to the region's highest at 33.8%, a substantial 55% increase. And 60.4% of respondents also own a flat screen television.

The digital music boom has taken firm hold of Hong Kong's wealthy with 61.5% now owning an MP3 player, a 33% increase year-on-year and the highest ownership regionally. A further 10.5% expect to buy an MP3 player before the end of June 2007.

They also take their leisure seriously, with substantial increases in the number of people traveling for pleasure and exercising. During the past year, over 60% of respondents took one or more leisure trips, the highest number regionally. The number of Hong Kong respondents taking three or more leisure trips was also the highest in the region at 16.6%, a 20% increase.

They are also tackling health issues head on and exercising more. A 162% increase in the number of Hong Kong respondents either jogging or walking has meant 3.4% of affluent respondents are now flexing their legs on a regular basis. Over the same period swimming participation increased 59%, with 14% having taken a dip in the past three months, while aerobics and gym workouts grew 112% to 3.6%.

Even though mainland Chinese are pouring into Hong Kong to visit its designer stores, giving the local economy a welcome boost, Hong Kong's affluent residents “are becoming more comfortable in their own skins, relying less on designer goods for status and relaxing into their own unique Hong Kong style,” said Mr. Garton.

Hong Kong's longtime fascination with all things designer may be fading with a 32% decrease to 13.4% in the number of people agreeing that they prefer to buy designer goods and brands; ownership of luxury goods fell slightly (3%). But a solid 72.1% still own one or more luxury items, the highest figure in the region once again.

Alcohol consumption has grown by 9% over the year with 48.3% of Hong Kongers indulging in a tipple in the past month. Growth was concentrated on the beer market, with local beer consumption increasing by 32% to 25.4% and imported beer consumption increasing by 11% to 31.3%.

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