Empathy is key to restore trust from Hong Kong’s diverse consumer base

Ipsos leader Javier Calvar said companies are becoming too greedy amidst inflationary pressures.

The perceived greediness of businesses is largely contributing to declining consumer trust, which affects Hong Kong’s sluggish economic recovery.  In an exclusive interview with Javier Calvar, Ipsos group service line leader, one way to address this is by engaging with customers empathetically through understanding consumer expectations and contexts.

“It is fundamental for them to understand the community they're meant to serve, to understand the expectations that consumers have when they buy their products or services… with a degree of empathy,” said Calvar, who helps brands grow at Ipsos, a market research firm.

“It is a difficult task, but something that businesses must address as a matter of priority if they want to induce sustainable consumption,” added Calvar.

For example, brands can offer incentives to frugal Hong Kong residents by offering better value through a range of  pack sizes and creating portfolios that cover a wide range of price points.

"Another way to revive trust from consumers is the critical role of collaboration between the government and businesses," said Calvar.

He urged the government to build on Hong Kong's unique East-meets-West heritage to create a sense of stability and differentiation, which will attract  investment and create opportunities that would spur positive consumer sentiment.

Calvar's insights serve as a blueprint for brands seeking to navigate the current economic landscape in Hong Kong. By adopting a consumer-centric approach grounded in empathy and understanding, businesses can forge more meaningful connections with their audience, fostering trust and ultimately driving sustainable consumption in the region.

So are all these strategies worth it? Calvar said when brands develop long-lasting trust based relationships with consumers, it will build loyalty and grow market share.

“If brands understand consumers' expectations… they can redefine value for consumers through value pack adding relevant benefits to their products to justify their prices, position their products as self-reward and ensuring the product portfolios cover a wide range of price points,” he added.

According to a recent survey by market research firm Ipsos, there's been an erosion of trust among Hong Kong consumers towards brands, with only 34% saying businesses are telling the truth.

Per age group, the study also showed that millennials are conscious of the need to make tweaks to their lifestyles to save money, because they are more likely than other cohorts to cut down on a range of activities such as eating out less often and limiting travel or delaying upgrades and cancelling subscriptions.

Data showed that about 30% of Hong Kong millennials have a mortgage, a much higher proportion than other generational cohorts.

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