Hong Kong Consumer Council CEO Gilly Wong Fung-han wants to take the organisation digital, using technology to better inform and protect consumers.
This will also involve doing more to educate the public about sustainable consumption.
“What we want to achieve is that when consumers go shopping, they will take out their smartphones and search for test results from the council on the particular product they may want to buy,” Wong says. “We already have the information – the question is how to digitise it.”
Wong says she also wants to use more social media and also modernise the council’s website.
“At present, our Choice magazine on the internet is in PDF format only. You cannot click through to the stories. We want to make it interactive, as a shopping guide.”
Under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the council has an annual budget of about HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) and about 155 staff, a number Wong says would need to increase to achieve the digitalisation target.
As well as tracking consumption sectors, an upcoming focus for the council is supporting sustainable consumption. “It is in our three-year plan and we have planted the seeds, and we will do more in the coming years,” Wong says.
“We want to educate consumers about the impact of their actions on the environment. It is about becoming a rational and practical consumer without compromising your quality of living.”
A council report last year found that Hong Kong people mostly knew about the concepts of sustainable consumption, but their behaviour did not reflect this. “For many people, the only time they choose to practise sustainable consumption is when they get instant benefits, such as choosing an appliance that gives the most cost savings on their electricity bill.”
Wong says the council is taking measures to promote sustainable consumption. These include product tests, which will have sustainability elements wherever possible, and energy-efficiency tests for all electrical appliances, as well as assessments on certain household appliances to determine if they are sustainable products.