Written by Amit Bapna, Invest Hong Kong
After having had a tough 2020, the Asian economy is one of the first that’s on a road to healthy revival. Bigger markets like China and India, as well as emerging markets like Indonesia and Vietnam are showing pockets of resurgence on the back of a strong domestic consumer growth. The APAC market is being seen as the harbinger of growth in an overall challenged global landscape.
Within this context Hong Kong, with its robust financial and legal system and proximity to Mainland China, is a market to watch. For many Western businesses looking at increasing their footprint in the Asian markets, it is being seen as a preferred entry-point. Many companies have already set up their headquarters in Hong Kong and are working very closely with their regional teams in hubs and many more are waiting to get there.
Last June, Canadian-listed advertising technology company, Adcore Inc, officially opened its regional headquarters in Hong Kong. This foray is part of the leading digital marketing platform’s global ambitions to partake in the growth story of the Greater China region especially in the areas of e-commerce, education, fintech and travel.
|Gal Itkin (middle), General Manager of Adcore Greater China|
According to Gal Itkin, General Manager of Adcore Greater China, “Hong Kong serves a major role for penetrating the Mainland Chinese market using its modern infrastructure and professional manpower. Hong Kong is also part of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (an advanced technology area promoted by the Chinese Government) so having a hub in Hong Kong means we can easily reach out to other parts of China from this strategic location whilst taking care of our business in other Asian markets. Most importantly, as we are a public traded company, we are tied to strict regulations and world-class professional services that are offered in Hong Kong.”
“So far, we have been relying mainly on referrals for new business but are planning to grow the sales team in 2021. This is because we are seeing a large trend of Mainland Chinese exporters shifting from a pure marketplace strategy and investing in their own web stores selling directly to their consumers. This presents enormous opportunities for us”, he adds. Adcore has established itself as a provider of machine-learning powered marketing technologies used by digital agencies and advertisers.
Another interesting growth story is First Page Limited, established in Hong Kong in 2013 as a digital marketing agency by Australian entrepreneur Nick Bell. The company was launched to cater to enterprises looking to promote products and services digitally. Over the years, the company has established itself as a global digital marketing agency with offices in Australia, Dubai, Brazil, Panama and Southeast Asia.
First Page chose Hong Kong as its launch location for the many advantages it provided - a multinational city with a high degree of business transparency, independent legal system, low and simple tax system, and wide usage of English and Chinese.
Says Lars Maehler, General Manager, Hong Kong of First Page, “A lot of our clients from various industries including pharmaceutical, hotels, airlines, insurance and e-commerce, etc. have set up their regional headquarters in Hong Kong therefore we could work very closely with their regional teams in the hub. After the pandemic outbreak, many businesses either want to explore a smarter way to adapt to the new normal or want to make digital a core channel to drive sales. We are very busy working with these clients to fulfill their business goals”.
|Lars Maehler, General Manger of First Page Hong Kong / Photo credit: Aqumon|
Today First Page counts itself as positioned perfectly as a company that doesn’t outsource and has an international environment made up of 13 different nationalities with a multitude of different channels that it can offer as a service to its clients. Ambitions and enthusiasm remain high within the Hong Kong office to double its headcount to around 100 people in 2021. “This is reflective of our growing reputation in the market, the growth of our client base and the need to sustain our reputation through first class servicing”, Maehler adds.
While the pandemic ravaged many businesses, ironically enough it also meant better growth for many others. One of the paradigm shifts has been around business transforming to digital since, with social lockdowns, Internet usage went through the roof which is where companies like First Page have grown manifold.
Among the unique features of Hong Kong is the fact that the people are incredibly resilient when it comes to prevailing through hardship. Their ambition levels are high; and so are the skill sets needed to deliver. Seismic developments and industry changes happen quickly, which opens tremendous opportunities not just within Hong Kong, but as a gateway to China and the region.
Elaborating on how Hong Kong is providing a conducive environment for companies wanting to invest here, Dr. Jimmy Chiang, Associate Director-General at Invest Hong Kong says, “Hong Kong is the regional hub for digital marketing and advertising companies looking to support their clients and business partners in the APAC region. Many companies are increasingly willing to invest in technology to strengthen their digital capabilities to connect and engage their customers.”
Invest Hong Kong is the department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government responsible for attracting foreign direct investment and supporting overseas and Mainland businesses to set up or expand in Hong Kong. It provides free advice and customized services for overseas and Mainland companies. For more information, visit them on the web at: https://www.investhk.gov.hk