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Main Topic: Hong Kong Retailers Adapt by Adopting

Hosts: James Stanworth , Clyde Warden

Ultra-Modern HK
Hong Kong's retailing space is often perceived as ultra modern, catering to many nationalities, and the world is flat if you are an American or a Brit looking for that American and British retailing. Many of the shopping malls look like something right of the film Logan's Run ! Ultra modern Western retail formats that emphasize what we call inside-in with lots of entrance space, lots of empty space, and floors so clean you can use them as mirrors. Not far off though, are the retailing formats that play to the Chinese social psychology of renao. Packed stores with retail space pouring out into the sidewalk, what we call inside-out retailing. This format is obvious when combined with traditional categories, like herbal medicine, some DIY, and wet markets, but successful modern retailers have learned from these formats. James and Clyde went searched Hong Kong to find how modern retailers co-opt traditional Chinese consumer behavior by incorporating renao-based retail formats. They did not need to look far.

Professor Ho, Suk-ching 何淑貞 ž is a leading expert on how wet markets have adapted, and how supermarket retailers have adapted by adopting. In the case of Wellcome, not only is there a metaphor of a fresh market, as the Wellcomes in Taiwan have, but an actual fresh meat butcher stall is placed in the store.

Traditional Fresh Emphasis
Traditional Meat Stall

From Shanghai, Clyde and James summarize their retailing observations in Hong Kong. Supermarkets have been very successful at adopting or co-opting traditional retailing values and customs.

Supermarkets in Hong Kong have adapted by adopting.

Watch The Show:

The Show (Audio Only):

Length: 15 minutes. Download MP3 6.87MB (Right click->Save As).

Location ShootThe Show (Video & Audio):

After shooting lots of ConsumerCam in Hong Kong, James and Clyde compared notes and shot this video in Shanghai. Here they summarize their observations of the Hong Kong local retailing scene and how examples like Wellcome co-opt traditional Chinese retailing behaviors.
Length: 15 minutes.
High Quality mp4 H.264(640x480) Download high quality mp4 113.61MB (Right click->Save As).


Vid. 1) Is it just because Clyde is an outcast from the 70's or does anyone else get the impression Western style retailing in Hong Kong looks a lot like the sets from the 70's SciFi classic Logan's Run?

Vid. 2) A ParknShop commercial from the 1970s emphasizing value (a very important aspect during the shift to the consumer economy).

Vid. 3) A more modern ParknShop commercial emphasizing freshness of the vegetables and the tracking sticker (the song says, "Don't ask me where it comes from").

Show Links:

Bottom Line:

  • Wet markets are serious competition to Western format food retailing chains.
  • Easy to miss wet markets in Hong Kong if you do not know where locals shop.
  • Same emphasis on freshness in Hong Kong as throughout Greater China.
  • Fusion of traditional shopping values with modern formats is the trend.
  • Key Chinese traditional retailing formats must be adopted for real success.
  • Utilitarian values linked with Chinese traditions need to be paid attention to.
  • Hedonistic consumption can be linked to more Westernized products (such as the more packaged goods).
  • Traditional Chinese retailing influences are easily overlooked, but for local consumers, they are very important and should not be ignored.
Category: Videocasts

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