Summer is fun if you can live with humidity and stifling heat.
The thing is how do you turn fun into profit?
This is a burning question now that Disney has just opened in Shanghai its first magic kingdom in the Middle Kingdom.
The new theme park is expected to change the competitive landscape for everything from hotels to retailing and other related businesses.
It will be a market where survival will depend even more on something called USP (unique selling proposition).
The secret? Ice cream.
The idea comes from Adrian Lee, the outgoing chairman of Champion REIT, who has made a success of Langham Place, arguably Hong Kong’s hippest shopping mall.
The mall sits in the heart of Mong Kok, a commercial district notorious for cut-throat competition.
But the 65-year-old Lee says you can’t go wrong with an ice cream shop in these sweltering temperatures.
“A shopping mall must be fun,” he says. “It’s impossible to go without ice cream because ice cream makes people happy.”
Also, he likes more obscure brands — something difficult to pronounce and harder to find — because these are the ones that appeal to millennials.
So we figure Lee is not referring to Louis Vuitton, Rolex or Tiffany.
Lee says he is amazed at the work of his team of mostly young university graduates who can speak some Korean (possibly picked up from the ubiquitous Korean TV soaps) and how well they’re able to connect with his target audience.
So Lee does not mind when the office bursts into shouts and laughter from people with boundless energy.
It’s not quite a school playground but Lee likes to call it a “mini theme park”.
Little wonder Shanghai Commercial Bank has come up with a gimmick to entice young customers.
Its newly opened Central branch operates a vending machine along the lines of gashapon, the popular Japanese coin-operated kiosk that dispenses toys.
But this one spews out Tracker Fund coupons worth up to HK$10,000 (US$1,288) for the jackpot and 1,000 free credits to lucky customers.
That sounds a lot like a slot machine to me, but that’s another story.
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