Hong Kong’s neon signs might be fading but not my memory of them…

Hong Kong’s neon signs might be fading but not my memory of them…

IDENTITY Communications might be the intelligent multicultural marketing agency, but our team also has heart. As Hong Kong’s neon lights fade, Brenda Leung, IDENTITY’s Insights Manager reflects on her childhood memories of the Pearl of the Orient.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of evenings at Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Island with my family. Hong Kong at night is breathtaking. Looking down to Victoria Harbour, all my attention was captured by the vibrant, warm and inviting hue of Hong Kong’s iconic neon lights – glowing and blinking on skyscrapers that reflected on the harbour. It is this view that leaves a lasting impression for the 27m overnight tourists who visit Hong Kong every year. It is this view that gives Hong Kong its nickname of the “Pearl of the Orient”.

Hong Kong neon

Walking through the city of Hong Kong, the city’s lights are spectacular. Neon’s brilliant blaze has always been used by businesses to attract customers. Big neon light boards are found on the façade of commercial buildings, department stores, shopping centres, restaurants, clubs, with those colourful lights shining, sparkling and twinkling into people’s eyes. It is a city that embraces neon. I have no idea who made those neon lights and how they are made, but they are definitely the representative of the dynamic, bustling, fast pacing and never stopping lifestyle of Hong Kong. There is so much ambient light that you can even read a book at 2am if you sit by the window of an apartment in Mongkok, Tsimshatsui or Wanchai.

Hong Kong

The neon lights in Hong Kong also mark the beginning of the fun of its exciting nightlife, where retailers open until midnight and restaurants until the early hours of the morning. Other than the nickname of “Pearl of the Orient”, Hong Kong is also known as “Shoppers’ Paradise” because the shops stay open until late, with the purpose of entertaining the residents and tourists alike. When you have finished a movie at 1am, you can still make your way to a nice eatery where you can stuff your belly to recharge for the next day. Hong Kong is truly a city that never gets dark or comes to a stop.

Hong Kong

Light is an important part in celebrations in Hong Kong. Occasions or festivals like Chinese New Year, Hong Kong Establishment Day and Chinese National Day are times to celebrate with fireworks. Breathtaking fireworks glow over the Harbour with crowds of people lining the harbour on both sides to witness the spectacular display.

I read that recently, Hong Kong has shifted from neon lights to LED for cost effectiveness, safety and other technical reasons (watch the video above for the full explanation). That’s a shame, neon lights can be handcrafted to create different shapes and unique characters. When compared with LED, neons are brighter, glow with a larger variety of colours to help sign boards stand out.

Whatever happens to the lights of Hong Kong, in my heart nothing will stop the vitality of the city I love. In my heart, Hong Kong will still always be a city of energy and intense lights, and its sparkle is eternally vibrant.

English language proficiency as a criterion in audience selection

English language proficiency as a criterion in audience selection

Audience size and English language proficiency are often the two most critical selection criteria for multicultural marketing campaigns. IDENTITY Communications, the intelligent multicultural marketing agency agrees, and disagrees. Here’s why…

The audience selection for multicultural campaigns can be a little formulaic. Pick the largest language population for a particular demographic (age, gender etc), then consider their English proficiency as a way of further ranking them. For example, if the campaign targets all people 18yo+ then multicultural marketers might pick the largest 20 language groups in Australia, then they’d rank them by the proportion with low English language proficiency (those who claimed to speak English “poorly” or “not at all” when they answered the 2016 Census).

Use the table below to rank/sort languages by the respective columns – currently it’s ranked by groups with the lowest ratio of English proficiency.  On top that is Marra, an Australian Aboriginal language spoken in the Northern Territory around the Roper, Towns and Limmen Bight Rivers. Of eight people who speak Marra at home, 75% claimed to have low English language proficiency. Rounding out the top 3 are Zomi and Rohingya, mainly spoken by migrants from Myanmar.

[table id=18 /]

When English proficiency is used, language groups such as Hindi, Punjabi and Tagalog/Filipino are often excluded. This makes sense for mass awareness campaigns because these groups are able to access information via ‘mainstream’ comms. In Australia, cultural media are relatively limited compared to mainstream options, so these groups are more likely to be exposed to campaign messaging via mainstream channels.

But what if we wanted to go beyond driving awareness? What if we wanted to drive consideration and action?

Even  groups with very high English language proficiency, advertising in-language, in either ethnic media or mainstream media, has a positive effect in terms of awareness, trust and likelihood to buy, according to a new US study by the Cultural Marketing Council (CMC). Their report, Digital Lives 2018: A World of Digital “Everything” Through a Cultural Lense found “ads placed on platforms with cultural content have more power across ages and languages… Spanish-language ads – even in mainstream sites – create more engagement with Hispanics. The CMC conducted an online quantitative study of 3,500 total 13 to 49-year-old respondents with equal representation of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic African-Americans (NHAA) and Hispanics (HISP), as well as in-home qualitative among 15 respondents.

Culture Marketing Council 2018 Digital Lives Whitepaper

As can be seen in the image above, placing Spanish-language advertising on sites with content for the Hispanic community will lead to this audience paying more attention to the product, trust that brand more and ultimately more likely to buy that product. The results were similar regardless of whether the language on that site was in Spanish or English. Similarly, placing advertising on a site with African-Americans content, although the site is in English, dramatically increases the likelihood of purchase.

What does this all means? Well, if it’s a simple information campaign which doesn’t involve consideration and behaviour change, and you’re spending a decent budget on ‘mainstream’ channels, then translated advertising placed in cultural media may not be essential for groups with high English language proficiency such as those born in India and the Philippines.

But… if you are a car brand who want to stand out in a competitive market, it makes a lot of sense (and dollars) to use cultural media to build awareness, trust and consideration for your brand.

And that’s why our media planners used Indian media for the Sonata campaign for client, Hyundai.

Agree or disagree? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

Have questions? Send us an email, we’d love to hear from you. 

Super Saturday Federal By-Election 2018 – Top Languages

Super Saturday Federal By-Election 2018 – Top Languages

IDENTITY Communications, the intelligent multicultural marketing agency takes a quick look at the cultural diversity in these electorates.

July 28 is when voters in five federal electorates go to the polls in what’s being billed as “Super Saturday”. We’re staying away from the politics, but we can give you an idea of the cultural diversity of these seats that are in play.

Actually, in terms of cultural diversity at least, they’re not that diverse. This is particularly true for Mayo and Braddon where 91% of residents speak English at home, followed by Longman (88%), Fremantle (74%) and Perth (67%).

Italian speakers are shaping up as the largest cultural group in particularly in the West; Fremantle and Perth. Mandarin is second when you combine all five electorates, followed by Vietnamese.

Go for it, play with our table below and sort and search to your heart’s content!

[table id=14 /]

Photo credit: Australian Electoral Commission.

Go beyond cliches and go places

Go beyond cliches and go places

If this story resonates with you, I think you have a career with Identity Communications – the intelligent multicultural marketing agency. Read on and you’ll see what I mean…

Over six years ago, way before Gangnam Style, I thought Australia needed an Asian pop music show on free-to-air TV. People scoffed. Today, SBS PopAsia is going strong on TV, online, mobile and digital radio, with over 1.3m followers on their Facebook page.

Fastastic Baby - Big Bang

Sure these songs are ultra pop with incredible talent, dancing and over the top production value. If you’ve watched Big Bang’s Fantastic Baby music video (images above and video below) you’ll be impressed by the big budget, epic production.

The naysayers had their doubts:

There just wasn’t enough Korean teenagers for a feasible audience.
WRONG. While there were a few thousand Korean teenagers in Australia back in 2011, Korean Pop (Kpop) was a phenomenon that was spreading across Asia, particularly South East Asia, China and Japan. The Kpop wave was infectious. So the potential audience in Australia includes local Koreans, Asian-Australian teenagers and also local teens.

It’s in Korean limiting the audience base.
The doubters warned that local teens wouldn’t get Kpop because the lyrics are in Korean. When I asked a local youth in Phnom Penh why Kpop was so popular in Cambodia when the songs are Korean, he shrugged and said “we don’t understand that much English and we like American pop. Kpop shows that Asians can be cool and sexy too”. A quick scan of SBS PopAsia’s facebook page today shows the diversity of the show’s fan base

These clips were available free on YouTube so why would this audience tune into a TV show?
On the surface, this objection made a lot of sense. I was confident the show would work because SBS PopAsia wasn’t just a two-hour TV show, it was a community. The avid fans of Kpop at the time thought they were the only ones in Australia who loved Big Bang, 2NE1, 2PM, Girl’s Generation and other Kpop groups. They were watching it on their own, on their laptop in the isolation of their bedroom. SBS PopAsia was the first Asian pop music show on free to air TV. It wasn’t a secret. To build engagement, for the first 6 weeks of the show, I managed the twitter account while other members of the team managed the Facebook page. Our purpose was to engage with the fans and encourage them to engage with each other, to build a thriving, exciting community. They also had a chance to interact with the show with selected viewer tweets and Facebook comments appearing on TV.

The other reason the fans told us they loved tuning in was that they could watch their favourite show on the big TV screen, in glorious hi-definition and pump the music loud through the lounge room audio system.

SBS doesn’t have a budget to pay for these music videos.
At the time, Australia was the #3 country in terms of illegal Kpop music downloading. In negotiation with the Korean music labels, we argued that SBS could build the Kpop market further via our TV show and they could commercialise it by setting up Australian iTunes stores. I had no real negotiation experience, but the logic was compelling enough for these music labels to agree to supply SBS with their music clips.

What’s the moral of this story?

At a superficial level, some may see challenges and it’s easy to find reasons to say ‘no’. Others can’t see past the surface. At Identity, we’re about insights not anecdotes. We believe a multicultural marketing agency shouldn’t speak in shallow cliches. Our team looks beyond to understand the real reasons that motivates our audience. Our recommendations come from considered strategy that have been built on available data and insights. 

Join Us

Due to a string of new business wins, we’re looking for a strategy/channel planner. Starting a pop music TV show isn’t a prerequisite, but a wide-eye curiosity and desire to understand “why” is a great start.

Our core behaviours, the ones we encourage you to employ daily, are also the ones you will be rewarded for. We’d love you to be:

  • Open-minded
  • Collaborative
  • Positive
  • Knowledgeable
  • Good

If this is of interest, call a taxi, Mr Taxi (watch the clip below) and submit your application here. It’s a great role and one that doesn’t come along everyday!

What products do new migrants need?

What products do new migrants need?

New migrants are an immediate source of potential consumers for your brand. Brenda Leung, Identity Communications Insights and Production Manager writes about some of the potential.

Australia has been a “nation of settlers” since the European settlements in the late 18th century. Since then, migration has been continuously a major contribution to the annual population growth of the country, resulting in a mix of various cultural and linguistic backgrounds in its population. In the past 5 years, there has been a significant change in the migration regarding the number of new arrivals and the origins of these settlers.

Apart from getting themselves familiar with and enrolled in various systems in Australia, what do our CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) consumers need? Do they need the same products as everybody else in Australia? Does every single product in the market suit the multicultural consumers? If not, what products are the most desirable in the multicultural market?

REAL ESTATE:  No matter how different the settlement plans are from individual to individual, searching for places to rent or purchase is one of the most significant steps of all migrants once they set their feet on the ground of a new country. Migrants from the same cultural backgrounds tend to cluster in the same areas creating a familiar environment. They also place high regards on peer-to-peer endorsement of services in their own language, which has created a niche industry of influencers. It is not surprising when you find out the Chinese speaking estate agents actually outnumber the English speaking in suburbs like Hurstville.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: migrants want to stay in regular contact with family and friends back in home. Naturally, migrants over-index for international calls (landline and/or with mobiles), SMS and various interactive and social media channels. Being heavy users of the telecom products could mean the multicultural consumers have to be price savvy. Coupling with the desire to retain the existing customers, bundled telecom products at special price offered by the service providers have become the focus to cater to the need of the multicultural segments.

CALD consumers are always on the lookout for new mobile phones with new features and functions. Changing handsets to keep up with the latest is common among the young age group. Key CALD communities that over-index in their intention to purchase or upgrade their mobile phones include Arabic (ix 145), Greek (ix 160), Mandarin (ix 120) and Punjabi (ix 112)1.

BANKING AND INSURANCE: While migrants stay in contact with their original homeland, they also look for a bright future with a sense of security in the new country. There is a desire for a well established and reliable financial institution that can help them to plan and grow their wealth, providing a brighter, more secure future for their family.

Young skilled migrants with a high education level and self-funded middle-class specialists have provided Australia strong skilled human capital and resources. Sound financial management and growing wealth are important for this CALD segment.

Banking products that help manage their financial needs along the settlement process will certainly be popular, including credit or debit cards, daily transaction accounts, wealth creation/investment products.

ANZ lunar new year 2018

ANZ Lunar New Year Campaign, 2018.


Buying property as the first home or investment with home loans offered from the bank to secure a financial future, or for the next generation, is not uncommon amongst CALD communities, so investment loans and packaged products are appealing to their “palate”.

New migrants show a greater propensity to setting up new businesses of their own. According to the 2018 CGU Report, on thrid of small and medium business owners in Australia are from a multicultural background2. Business loans products would be of interest to this entrepreneurial group.

Online money transfer is also one of the high demand services as it is common for the migrants to continue sending money back to support their parents/family back in their home country.

FMCG: With such diversity in the cultural backgrounds of the Australian population, it is important for retailers to cater for the need of the lucrative multicultural consumers. It is not uncommon to see special sections with various Asian, Indian, Halal and Kosher products on the shelves in the big supermarkets, or individual community grocery shops with focus put on unique cultural merchandise. With different cultural festivals or celebrations like Chinese New Year, Passover, Diwali, and more happening during the year, shop managers can see increases in sales for specific food products related to the cultural festivals at certain times. Brands are getting into the festive spirit with decoration and stocking popular items for the occasion such as watermelons (below).

Woolworths Cabramatta Lunar New Year 2018

Lunar New Year Woolworths Cabramatta

Spend on FMCG retailing amongst the CALD consumers displays a faster growth rate than the Australian born group. In the next 5 years, the Asian-born consumers will play an important role in the sales in the grocery sector, accounting for 57% of the total growth, with distinctive differences in food preferences. 32% of Asian CALD consumers’ grocery spend is allocated to fresh food when compared with 26% amongst the Australian-born consumers. They are also keen on the options of seafood, fresh herbs and healthier food in general. So meeting the needs of the Asian-born consumers is essential in developing new business opportunities. Brands that are in play and being able to connect with the Asian consumers through strategic communications will make their mark early on this growing group and obtain advantages over their competitors in enjoying the benefit of these lucrative and savvy consumers3

AUTO: Just like the FMCG sector, with the change in the demographic regarding the cultural backgrounds in the population mix of Australia, being aware of the need to reach out and engage with the CALD consumers is crucial to thriving vehicle sales. Different CALD groups have their own preferences when it comes to the choice of vehicles and brand preference from the home country. Different communities have different priorities when it comes to value, safety, performance and reliability. A recommendation through “word of mouth” from friends can often cut-through, so building brand awareness and preference with existing migrant groups can help. 
1 Roy Morgan data, December 2017
2 CGU Migrant Small Business report, 2018
3 Asian-Born Australians Driving New Opportunities in Food Retailing, Nielsen Ethnic-Australian Consumer Report, June 2017