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Mainland ‘still vital’ for Hong Kong retail

While there are fewer of them, visitors from Mainland China are still vital to Hong Kong retail, says a new report from analyst Nielsen.

It says Hong Kong has 42.8 million mainland visitors every year, representing 75 per cent of its total tourists and generating 35 per cent of retail sales.

In the past 12 months, according to the 2016 Mainland Tourists Syndicated Report, 17 million mainland tourists stayed overnight in Hong Kong, with 80 per cent of them taking two trips a year on average and spending HK$20,000 (US$2578).

Nielsen says that while the figures show Hong Kong businesses “still have a big chance to win if they find the right way to attract mainland travellers”, cross-border eCommerce opportunities offer them cheaper, easier access.

“The incidence of buying foreign goods via a Chinese cross-border eCommerce platform is higher than overseas platforms and physical visits,” says Nielsen Hong Kong MD Angel Young.

“Those overnight visitors, who are short in number but stronger in buying power compared with the day-trippers, is a key group to watch,” Nielsen’s report says business owners in Hong Kong might need to adapt their advertising and feedback mechanisms to create better customer experiences for digital-savvy mainland travellers.

“They should focus more on the pre-travel period as more and more mainlanders are planning independent tours to Hong Kong, with 95 per cent gaining the necessary information from online travel agencies and 49 per cent from social media. Many can’t wait to post pictures on social websites when they are still shopping, to share both positive and negative comments and discount information.

“Business owners also have to improve in-store customer service, as the research shows that 80 per cent of the mainlanders’ purchases in Hong Kong are for their own use rather than for friends.”

The report recommends targeting two specific groups: so-called “super mainlanders” and culture seekers.

The super mainlanders have a “huge shopping thirst”, says the report. They make up only 23 per cent of tourists from the mainland but account for 54 per cent of total mainlander sales, spending an average CNY46,902 (US$6810) each per visit.

Culture seekers travel to Hong Kong for concerts, the food, sightseeing and exploring places they have seen on television shows. While not shopping-oriented, they still spend 10 per cent more than other mainland tourists.

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