Five days into our Hong Kong tour and after a fast-paced weekend of sightseeing and shenanigans, we said goodbye to our dear friend Jen to hit the road for the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), an exchange partner of QUT and our new home for the remainder of the trip.
Located in the affluent suburb of Kowloon Tong, HKBU has offered a new Hong Kong experience: a week in the life of a Hong Kong student. While students in Brisbane typically live off campus (and if they’re like me, leech off their parents at home), HKBU has on-campus dormitory style accommodation comprising mostly of adjoined bedrooms with a shared bathroom.
So far it’s safe to say we’ve bonded over our new abode as a team and while we don’t have the luxuries of a home or hotel room, we feel like we’re getting the real deal complete with cafeterias, communal laundry and a “drying yard”.
We were also lucky enough to receive a private lesson from Professor Kara Chan, a leading Chinese researcher in marketing and advertising and a professor within the HKBU department of communication studies.
What she highlighted most, and what we came here to see for ourselves, was the differences in consumer behaviour between Chinese and Australian culture. It is differences like these among cultures that challenge how international brands tailor their products and advertising messages to markets around the world.
In China, status, security and safety drive brand performance. Past product quality issues involving home-grown brands, such as the infamous infant milk formula contamination of Melamine in 2008, have impacted loyalty and driven demand for global brands. Imported goods are perceived to have higher quality assurance, and therefore inspire consumer confidence.
Even brands we take for granted in Australia have a different outlook in China, which Professor Chan emphasised through her case study on KFC. KFC in China is considered a high quality, dine-in experience. This is quite different from how we see KFC in Australia, and we shared with Professor Chan the popularity of KFC buckets during summer at the cricket. KFC is also more expensive than local restaurants and features a variety of localised Asian foods in conjunction with typical Western menu items. It is also a popular date night location!
While we’re all familiar with the importance of consumer insights, experiencing Hong Kong culture first hand and listening to local experts has truly brought home the importance of knowing your target audience and the cultural differences that can affect brand strategy.