Hong Kong millennials lack commitment, says survey

While Hong Kong millennials are the most influential generation, only 2 per cent of them are “devoted” to their favourite retail brands.

This was a finding of global loyalty marketing agency ICLP in a survey of 750 consumers in Hong Kong. It defined people of three different generations: baby boomers, born before 1965; generation X, born between 1965 and 1980; and millennials, born post-1980.

As most Hong Kong millennials lack commitment and passion when it comes to their favourite retailers, brands need a cohesive engagement strategy to foster relationships with millennials, says ICLP.

Underlying gaps in consumer retail experiences are revealed in the survey, which modelled brand relationships after the psychology of individual relationships with friends and loved ones. Consumers were asked to rate the importance of each of seven core relationship factors – recognition, rewards, reciprocity, reliability, respect, trust and communication. These were then mapped on to a model based on Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, in partnership with relationship dynamics expert Professor Ron Rogge of the University of Rochester in the US.

It revealed that 10 per cent of Hong Kong millennials are in a “romantic” relationship, compared to 21 per cent of those in Singapore and 28 per cent in China. With the lowest percentage in Asia Pacific territories and countries surveyed, Hong Kong’s millennials are characterised as having high levels of passion and intimacy but no commitment.

Meanwhile, 33 per cent of Hong Kong, 23 per cent of Singapore and 20 per cent of China millennials are in a “liking” relationship, which has only the component of intimacy. This reflects how Hong Kong millennials have a higher tendency to share and receive information from brands, says the study.

Furthermore, only 2 per cent Hong Kong, 3 per cent Singapore and 9 per cent of China millennials consider themselves as devoted to their favourite brands, expressing willingness to forge enduring relationships with them.


Millennials are seen as an influential generation as they are educated, tech savvy and socially active, and expect real-time response. They shop more often and spend more than the other two generations.

Retailers are keen to tap into the millennials’ potential as brand advocates, says the report, but need to understand the importance in converting the 33 per cent of Hong Kong millennials who are in a “liking” relationship with their brand to becoming “devoted”.

This can be achieved, says ICLP, based on the millennials’ response to the survey…

  • 21 per cent of Hong Kong millennials value communication tone and manner to capture their interest and continued interaction with a brand.
  • 23 per cent think their personal information is important, and expect to benefit from providing it to the retailer.
  • 61 per cent would buy more if brands were better at communicating with them.

“These findings show that retailers in Hong Kong still have some way to go in engaging millennial shoppers,” says ICLP GM Mary English.

“Brands need to look into a tightly integrated strategy to drive the commitment of millennials. Some shoppers would feel valued if brands were better at communication, while others may prefer brands to improve visibility across various channels to connect and interact with them, such as using different social-media platforms.

“Retailers need to understand shoppers’ individual needs by leveraging customer data such as response rate and viewership to track purchase preferences. Brands can then use this information to implement a more comprehensive and tailormade loyalty rewards program that can fit their personal needs, thus developing long-term trust with their customers.”


Meanwhile, the 10 per cent of Hong Kong millennials in a “romantic” relationship are enthusiastic about their favourite retailer and willing to share information, desires and opinions. But that does not preclude them from “playing the field” by shopping with other retailers occasionally. The challenge for retailers is to keep them from falling out of love with their brand and in love with others. Retailers should make adjustments to their engagement models to maintain and retain “devoted” relationships with millennials, says the report.

  • 17 per cent of Hong Kong millennials think it is important to have relevant recommendations for products and services from the brand based on their preferences.
  • 22 per cent believe it is important for a brand to recognise them with a personalised message, gift or offer on their birthday.
  • 69 per cent would buy more if retailers used their data to better understand their individual needs and requirements.
  • 77 per cent would spend more if they were rewarded better by their favourite retailer.  

“Understanding shoppers’ buying behaviours is of a paramount importance to retailers,” says English.

“Brands should take advantage by actively listening across channels, and responding with relevant product updates based on these insights.

“While some customers said they didn’t want brands to aggressively sell to them, retailers should form a dialogue with the millennial that incorporates educational content, product tips and trends, and experiential opportunities to further connect with the brand.”

English says the company’s research shows that Hong Kong millennials would recommend their favourite brand to their friends if they became devoted rather than just having a “liking” or “romantic” relationship with a brand.

“Devotion is the highest category of attainment for retail brands. It is the key to growing high value, sustainable relationships with millennials, to improve commitment and passion, and drive loyalty.”


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