Recession Hasn't Curbed Hong Kong Spending

Despite the Downturn, Synovate Survey Shows Continued Spending on Digital Gadgets, Restaurants, Hairdressers and Cosmetics

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53% of Hong Kongers shop at malls such as The Landmark in Central at least once a week
53% of Hong Kongers shop at malls such as The Landmark in Central at least once a week
HONG KONG ( -- The global recession has taken a toll on property prices and exorbitant expat remuneration packages in Hong Kong, but it hasn't slowed down the consumer spending habits of most residents.

Desktop and laptop computers are the most popular digital devices, owned by 58% of the Hong Kong respondents in a Media Atlas survey by Aegis Group's research division Synovate. Respondents also said they own digital cameras (53%), MP3 players (40%), digital video cameras (32%), portable electronic games (32%) and digital SLR cameras (23%).

The survey tracks media consumption, product ownership, attitudes and values using computer- assisted telephone interviews in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. In Hong Kong, Synovate interviewed over 6,000 people for its latest survey, released on April 8, 2009.

Hong Kong residents live media-saturated lives. On average, Hong Kongers consume media for almost eight hours a day. They spend two hours and 19 minutes watching television, two hours on the internet, 52 minutes using mobile phones, one hour and 27 minutes listening to radio, 50 minutes reading newspapers, and 29 minutes reading magazines. Those are among the highest media usage rates in Asia.

Forty-two percent of Hong Kong consumers believe the internet provides useful information while 36% say that it keeps them up-to-date.

One-third download illegal music
Fifty-seven percent of Hong Kong adults aged 12-64 who use the internet go online to participate in blogs. Forty-two percent read blogs without making any comments while over a quarter (27%) both read and make comments on blogs. Twenty-one percent of Hong Kong consumers create and update their blogs regularly.

Over one third (36%) of internet users read other people's social network profile pages while 16% update their own profile pages. Hong Kongers also consume online user generated content through managing and sharing both photos (33%) and videos (15%).
Hong Kong consumers overcome busy schedules with entertainment
Hong Kong consumers overcome busy schedules with entertainment
Among those who have downloaded content from the internet in the past 30 days, 50% downloaded photos or images and 34%) downloaded songs or music without paying for it. Other popular download items included software and TV programs (29%), mobile phone ringtones (25%), video or PC games (23%), full-length movies, computer wallpapers or screensavers and videos made by others (21%).

More women (37%) downloaded songs or music without paying for them than men (31%), but more men (36%) downloaded software than women (22%).

Media Atlas also examines branding and spending patterns and lifestyle insights, including usage of beauty products and services in the last 12 months.

Skincare products topped the list with over half (61%) of women and 21% of men making purchases during the last 12 months. Monthly visits to hairdressers and hair salons were more popular among men (37%) than women (27%). Healthy living also came into play among Hong Kong consumers, with 31% of women and 17% of men taking health supplements and vitamins in the last year.

The average Hong Kong resident spends HK$1,661 ($216) for perfume, cosmetics or skincare products per month and an additional HK$1,005 ($130) on other items such as clothes and accessories.

"Apart from looking good and improving their personal image, Hong Kong consumers like to indulge themselves by dining out (61%) as well as shopping (53%) at least once a week," said Susanna Lam, Synovate's research director in Hong Kong.

Karaoke outlets remain popular
When it comes to dining out, men spent more than women HK$1,456 ($189) versus HK$1,248 ($162) in the past month. Men also spend more--HK$1,621 ($211)--each month on entertainment compared to women at HK$1,276 ($165), suggesting that men are either picking up the check more often, or simply going out more than women.

"Our results show that Hong Kong consumers also try to overcome their busy schedules by visiting karaoke outlets (22%) as well as pubs and bars (16%) at least once every month. However, only one third (32%) of consumers pay attention to their health by working out, playing sports and doing Yoga at least once a week."

More than half (53%) of the Hong Kong consumers surveyed have a life insurance policy while over one-third (36%) said they have investments. One-third (33%) of Hong Kong consumers have an integrated bank account including multiple financial services in one umbrella account, while a quarter of both Hong Kong men and women have retirement plans. One in ten has taken out personal loans while close to two thirds (61%) of consumers own a credit card.

"With available credit and steady incomes each month, Hong Kong consumers are treating themselves to luxury items," Ms. Lam added. According to the survey, more women (45%) bought luxury items such as jewelery or watches compared to men (36%).

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