With a population of over 7 million, Hong Kong serves as a gateway to opportunities in Mainland China and also a strategic location in Southeast Asia. This city holds much potential for marketers because it is a multicultural hub wherein more than 1,500 regional headquarters of global companies are located.
Due to the rapid digital transformation across the globe, and Hong Kong, in particular, there has been an increase in demand for digital advertising and online marketing services. In fact, a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Advertisers Association (HK2A) and market analytics company Nielsen found that the region’s 100 major marketers plan to spend about 60% of their budget on digital advertising and 40% on traditional media strategies. Additionally, a survey also done by the same institutions in 2020 indicates that online advertising spending is expected to continue to rise with most respondents saying that their company will spend more money on online advertising in the upcoming years. Out of the budget allotted for digital, a substantial portion is spent on social media marketing.
As a result of the growth of social media, new marketing activities in the form of Influencer or Key Opinion Leader (KOL) marketing has also emerged. According to Google Trends statistics, there is a rapidly growing interest in this form of marketing. Statistics show that since 2013, the interest in the topic has increased tremendously and has surged starting in 2017. From an initially experimental advertising channel, influencer marketing is now one of the fastest-growing digital marketing strategies.
The rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has resulted in the rapid development of online peer-to-peer communications. As such, at present, everyone has the potential to become an influencer or KOL by creating content that appeals to an active community of followers. By discussing their interests, sharing their experiences, and offering critiques of various subjects through digital platforms, KOLs can become more influential online than celebrities or journalists who are active in mass media.
Working together with influencers has become a leading option for brands that are targeting a specific set of consumers. However, marketers should also note that in most circumstances, influencers are not motivated solely by monetary compensation. Instead, they give more priority to how a product or service would interest their followers. Businesses are advised to develop a creative and robust marketing strategy instead of resorting to push tactics, and at the same time, find effective ways to help influencers better connect with their audience.
This article will discuss the status of influencer marketing in Hong Kong, particularly its most popular social media platforms and influencers, and ways on how to reach them.
Popular Influencer Platforms in Hong Kong
Nowadays, social media is no longer just a platform for sharing selfies or keeping tabs on people; it is a genuine business tool for companies looking to cultivate their brand. For Hong Kong, the social media landscape is vastly different from mainland China’s. Since foreign platforms are not banned in the region, Hong Kong’s most popular social media networks are Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Facebook, a Goliath among social media platforms across the globe, is also extremely popular in Hong Kong. According to social media marketing firm NapoleonCat, there are over 5.4 million Facebook users in the region as of January 2020. Majority of these users are women, accounting for 55.4%. Most users also belong in the 25-34-year-old age group, which makes for 31.7% of the population. Additionally, a report generated by social media marketing firm Socialbaker also indicates that the top 5 industries of Facebook in Hong Kong are retail, services, e-commerce, fashion, and beauty. Therefore, digital marketers must focus their strategies on these audiences when utilizing Facebook.
As a platform, Facebook allows brands to maximize their ability to advertise in unique and engaging ways with their consumers. In 2018, the network rolled out new features such as Facebook Story Ads, Augmented Reality Ads, and Playable Ads, which provided new opportunities for the brands to deliver their messages to target audiences.
Hong Kong influencers often use Facebook to share reviews and images on their topic of expertise. Food blogger Nicole Fung (of That Food Cray) has over 110,000 followers on Facebook where she reviews both Hong Kong and overseas restaurants. She takes a photo of a dish from different angles and takes note of the names and ingredients in each one.
According to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Digital Global Report 2020, video-sharing website YouTube has a 81% penetration rate in Hong Kong. Wu Yiwa, head of Google’s sales business in Hong Kong, had previously stated that the YouTube community in the region is growing rapidly. The area now boasts around hundreds of thousands of unique local channels and the duration of creators’ film hours has seen a constant year-on-year increase. She also pointed out that the short films created by Hong Kong YouTubers have been successfully developed to the international audience and can attract interest overseas.
In addition, a study conducted by Google indicates that 91% of Hong Kongers use YouTube monthly. The study also found that 83% of YouTube users said that YouTube helps them make smart consumption decisions. Thus, brands can utilize it by collaborating with influencers who will create short films that provide advice to customers and tell their brand stories.
One such influencer is Lok Sin So, who launched her YouTube channel in October 2013 and has now amassed close to 70,000 subscribers. Her content ranges from topics such as skincare and cosmetics to fashion, food, travel, and pop idols. She is regularly invited to attend product launches where she is among the first to try the latest products from which she creates product review videos.
Photo sharing platform Instagram has over 2.2 million users in Hong Kong. Among these users, more than 60% are young adults ages between 18-34 years old. These data emphasize how the young population dictates the region’s Instagram trends and why they’re the primary target audience to keep an eye on.
In 2018, Instagram launched several revolutionary changes, particularly the augmentation of Instagram Stories and the emergence of IGTV. The introduction of new features such as super-zoom effects, video chat, and verified badges, motivated creative users, and encouraged more brands to use the platform.
For marketers, Instagram is a rich source of collaborations with micro-influencers. A smaller circle of influence characterizes this type of influencer, possibly limited to their social network. Micro-influencers can reach more targeted audiences for a brand and increase sales.
One such marketing campaign that involved collaborating with micro-influencers was by Topshop Topman. The invited young people, mostly undergraduates, whose Instagram style matched that of the brand to select outfits from their store and post their photos on Instagram with hashtags such as #studentdiscount and #topshophk.
Popular Hong Kong Influencers
With the numerous and diverse influencers in Hong Kong, digital marketers have a higher chance of finding the one who is best to represent their campaigns. Here are some of the most popular macro and micro-influencers in Hong Kong.
A photographer and model, Alvin Chan signed to Liberté Models HK in 2017. Before that, he was already regularly posting photos on his photography account. Nowadays, he is also active on his personal/modeling account where he posts pictures from his portfolio or from when he worked with photographers.
Nathan Starwalker is a well-known influencer aside from being a model and actor. He is active on Instagram, where he usually posts videos and advertising portfolios. As a foodie, he likes collaborating with restaurants. Nathan has been a veteran in the industry, and he has also experienced some struggles to remain relevant as there are many creative and famous people out there. Nevertheless, he is enthusiastic and knows how to prioritize his brand commitments.
Ruby Fung is a fashion, lifestyle, and beauty influencer. She is also a fashion designer and columnist. As an influencer, she has excellent photography skills, and her ability to write has also led to her being trusted by numerous brands in Hong Kong. She engages her followers through her unique photos and captions.
How to Get in Touch with Hong Kong Influencers
Marketers have two options in getting in touch with Hong Kong influencers: they can communicate with influencers personally, or they could be reached through an influencer marketing agency.
Initially, it may seem practical to reach out to influencers personally with the assumption that they will be easily accessible, and it will be less costly. However, due to the significant number of influencers in the region, each with specific topics of interest, selection, and coordination with influencers can be a considerable challenge. In contrast, coordinating through an influencer marketing agency would be advantageous to a company when it comes to pinpointing the best influencer for a marketing campaign, negotiating prices, and measuring results.
Here some influencer marketing agencies in Hong Kong that can help businesses collaborate with the best influencer for their campaigns.
Established in 2017, AlphaConcepts is a Hong Kong-based influencer agency. It has since collaborated with more than 1,000 influencers and over 50 brands. The agency was formed by Irish Ong, a professional model with about ten years of experience in the modeling industry. In 2018, AlphaConcepts raised a US$200,000 seed round from four angel investors in Hong Kong and used it to speed up product development and expand its market presence.
Spread-it is a Hong Kong startup that is seeking to make the most of the growing number of micro-influencers in the region. The agency runs a platform which matches brands with micro-influencers for marketing campaigns. Spread-it has collaborated with more than 150 brands so far, including Microsoft, MTR, McDonald’s, H&M and Carlsberg. At present, there are over 10,000 micro-influencers registered on the platform. Majority of them are university students, with followers on Instagram ranging from 500 to 50,000.
KOLs influence a significant percentage of social media users in Hong Kong in terms of health, fashion, beauty, entertainment, and lifestyle choices. Hence, influencer marketing presents excellent opportunities as a marketing strategy in the region. For companies looking to penetrate the Hong Kong market, these strategies are often crucial for achieving the most success in their campaigns. However, due to the sheer number of influencers in the region, selecting the best one for a campaign can pose a considerable challenge.
For more information about influencer marketing in Hong Kong, contact us at Info Cubic Japan today.