WPP global design agency Design Bridge and Partners and Kantar have released the inaugural ranking of the Kantar BrandZ Top 30 Strongest Brands in Hong Kong which measured 129 brands across nine categories over a two-year period.
This new brand equity report reveals the strongest brands with the most cultural power and equity: those that build emotional connections with their audience, differentiate from competition, and mean the most to consumers. Businesses with greater brand power have been demonstrated to deliver superior shareholder return, show greater resilience and recover faster in times of crisis. For the first ever Hong Kong BrandZ report focusing on Hong Kong, Kantar and Design Bridge and Partners combined data and strategic design thinking to produce insights on how businesses that invest in their brands, especially in the age of disruption and volatility, command ‘Demand Power’.
Taking the top spot is HSBC, followed by Cathay Pacific, and Yuu in third place. Fourth and fifth place went to Hong Kong’s public transport network MTR for its lifestyle APP and Mcdonald’s.
“Tomorrow’s world is placing more challenges on brands and their business, with harder-to-please consumer expectations and harder-to-predict market trends,” said Hannah Duley, Managing Director at Design Bridge and Partners Hong Kong.
“But businesses that invest in their brands, especially in the age of disruption and volatility, still outperform in the market. It has proved that great brand design often comes with great brand results, both tangible and intangible. With the power of design, brands can give unity to every diverse aspect to form a compelling brand and create distinct meanings.”
Top 30 Brands in Hong Kong 2023
|6||Hang Seng Bank||Banking|
|11||Bank of China||Banking|
|14||Shiseido||Female Beauty Skincare|
|15||Hong Kong Airlines||Airline|
|17||Cafe de Coral||Casual Dining|
|18||China Mobile||Communications Provider|
|23||SK-II||Female Beauty Skincare|
|30||HK Broadband||Communications Provider|
Jason Spencer, Managing Director at Kantar BrandZ added: “Hong Kong has always been seen as a land full of contradictions. This inaugural report reinforces this juxtaposition clearly as we see how dramatically different brands appear side by side in the rankings.
With this in mind, pinpointing the DNA of a HK brand we found was a difficult task and in the end, we realised that it was a futile one as there is no one way to define what a Hong Kong brand truly is – they have dual utility and leverage the best of both worlds no matter the context.”
Design Bridge and Partners and Kantar prepared the following summary of the key principles from their research:
The line between global and local brands is blurred
One key contrast the report uncovered was that of local versus international. Despite being shut off during the Covid-19 pandemic, Hong Kong is still an international hub with globally connected brands – five of the top 10 are Hong Kong brands, with HSBC taking the top spot. This strong local identity and heritage coupled with an international outlook and reach is a melting pot for creativity and effective design – with Hong Kong’s strongest brands representing both these values. As one of HSBC’s brand campaigns states, ‘Hong Kong is inspired by the world, and the world is also inspired by Hong Kong’.
Innovation and nostalgia go hand in hand in Hong Kong
Another contrast for brands coming to life in the report is novelty versus nostalgia. There is an insatiable appetite for novelty in Hong Kong, with businesses and consumers embracing and often leading market and technological innovation. However, there are also many examples of brands who have effectively leveraged their heritage or those who have tapped into nostalgic elements and family values of the past. There also seems to be a renewed respect for unique Hong Kong traditions, e.g. lost skills like neon sign making, hand carved mahjong tiles, and ‘bamboo noodles’ (竹打面). This indicates that there is a growing sense of pride in brands and products that represent the uniqueness and individuality of Hong Kong’s heritage.
Love of luxury and a good deal is driving a desire for value
The report also revealed the theme of ‘value-seeking’. Hong Kongers love bargains and like to feel that they’re ‘gaming the system’; this explains why so many brands offer great value or help consumers seek out the best deals. The luxury market is still going strong, however, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing, with luxury businesses that build desire into their marketing. The love of luxury and good deals aren’t in opposition though – for Hong Kong consumers, it’s all about value.
Strong brands deliver seamless digital and physical experiences
Customer needs, as in other markets, are at the centre of the Hong Kong brand experience. And although the pandemic accelerated digitalisation here in Hong Kong as it has globally, strong brands in Hong Kong have also acknowledged the importance of the ‘in real life’ (IRL) experience, still a very important driver of overall customer experience. In a region that values the tactile experience of produce shopping in wet markets and the security that in-branch financial transactions connote, the most powerful brands have successfully created a hybrid IRL/digital experience that understands customer needs regardless of the sphere of engagement.
Image by Ben Cheung