When we talk about the digital landscape in the Greater Bay Area, the first thing we need to know is that there’re two different digital landscapes in this region. That is a result of different political systems in the two autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau and the other nine cities in mainland China.
Take Hong Kong as an example, the 7 million population is dominated by mostly western digital platforms. The no.1 search engine in Hong Kong is undoubtedly google with an 89.9% market share, followed distantly by Yahoo (7.38%) and Bing (1.62%). The biggest search engine in mainland China is Baidu, and it takes up only 0.79% in Hong Kong. In terms of social networking, the top 5 social platforms in Hong Kong are Facebook (57.89% market share), Pinterest (17.41%), Twitter (14.99%), Youtube (6.26%), and Instagram (1.25%). WhatsApp is the most used messenger app in Hong Kong, with a 74% market share. Facebook’s Messenger app is another key player, with over 4.5 million users in Hong Kong. And LinkedIn is the primary job seeking app in Hong Kong with more than 2 million registered users.
While in the Greater Bay Area in mainland China, the digital landscape is totally different. As the home to Tencent, Shenzhen and the other cities in the GBA mainly use WeChat. WeChat can be considered an equivalent to WhatsApp plus Facebook in terms of functions. It offers a complete eco-system for Chinese consumers from messenging service to social, news, payment, and games. WeChat is also the most important social platform if you are on your China-focused marketing plan. Weibo is playing the role of Twitter in Hong Kong as in the GBA. Dianping and Meituan are the other two booking service apps frequently used in the GBA for restaurants, movies, entertainment, and other services. In terms of search engines, Baidu replaced Google in the mainland as the absolute no.1 player.
So here comes the key question: which side of the digital world should you take to target the Greater Bay Area? That would essentially rely on the target audience you want to reach. Even when you are spending on digital advertising in Hong Kong, you should think carefully about who are your real customers. Because for lots of product categories in Hong Kong, e.g. skincare/beauty/luxury goods etc., the retail growth is mainly driven by the visiting customers from mainland China and specifically the other mainland cities in the GBA. In this case, investment in a competitive google advertising system might not be as efficient as in WeChat, which is heavily used by mainland visitors even when they’re travelling in Hong Kong or Macau.
Therefore, always follow the target audience rather than the target market is our suggestion to tap into the splitting digital landscapes in the Greater Bay Area.