Häagen-Dazs, an American ice-cream brand, is spending a greater portion of its advertising budget in Hong Kong on online campaigns to attract younger customers.
“We are now spending about 30 percent of our marketing budget on internet, compared with less than 10 percent five years ago,” Lily Au, managing director at General Mills Hong Kong, which sells Häagen-Dazs ice-cream in the city, told EJ Insight in an interview.
The company will continue to allocate more marketing resources to the internet in the coming two years as new media platforms get increasingly popular in the territory, she said.
“Many new media platforms are emerging every year, providing us more opportunities to interact with our customer groups,” Au said, adding that the company will continue to keep an eye on traditional media and see whether they will have new elements that can serve advertising purposes.
Global ad spending is expected to increase 4.6 percent to US$579 billion in 2016, up from a 3.9 percent growth last year, according to ZenithOptimedia.
Internet advertising is expected to grow by 15.7 percent this year and overtake television advertising globally in 2017, the media research agency said.
Meanwhile, mobile advertising expenditure will account for 92 percent of new advertising dollars between 2015 and 2018.
“We will continue to study and figure out which kind of online campaigns is more effective,” Au said. “To interact with the younger generation, we cannot just sell online ads but have to provide some games and tasks to make the whole experience more fun.”
Last month, Häagen-Dazs Hong Kong’s Facebook page, which has gained 3.6 million likes, invited Daniel Chong Wai-Chung, former chief executive of Yata Department Store, to participate in its latest online campaign.
Chong appeared in a video showing him delivering prizes to companies that care for their staff.
Chong is well-known as “a boss with a conscience” who goes out of his way to reward deserving staff, Au said, adding that his image reflects the Häagen-Dazs brand as an affordable surprise gift.
“We want to promote a culture that bosses are always encouraged to appreciate their staff and reward them with small gifts,” she said.
Next month General Mills Hong Kong will also launch an online platform where corporate customers can order Häagen-Dazs’ ice-cream products.
Given the easing rental prices in Hong Kong, the company is looking for opportunities to expand its branch network. It now operates a total of 25 stores in the city.
“We want to add one to two shops every year on average, depending whether there are good sites,” Au said.
“Apart from opening new stores, we also hope to boost revenue by increasing same-store sales.”
It will be good to set up new stores in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui as the company considers tourists as a major customer group, she said.
The company does not rule out the possibility of participating in the government’s Food Truck Pilot Scheme if it can sort out issues about facilities and hygiene.
“A food truck can help us reach the outdoor customers on holidays,” she said. “If we adopt this model, we should think about how it can suit our brand’s image.”
Last year, the company recorded a high single-digit growth in its sales of ice-cream mooncakes. It hopes to accelerate the growth rate by launching new products this year with new elements including yogurt.
In fact, the company’s social responsibility program also benefits from its ice-cream mooncakes segment.
As there are always some customers who forget to collect their pre-ordered ice-cream mooncakes, the company has over the past many years set up channels to donate these products to some charity organizations, Au said.
She said these giveaways represented a certain percentage of the company’s total pre-ordered mooncakes each year.
Other social responsibility initiatives include holding Christmas parties for underprivileged children in Hong Kong and providing free training programs to vanilla bean farmers in Madagascar.
French chef’s desserts
On Monday, upon the invitation of Häagen-Dazs, world-renowned pastry chef Jean-Francois Arnaud guested on a workshop to present the company’s newly designed ice-cream desserts. The event took place at Hotel ICON in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Arnaud created five distinctive desserts with the theme “Muse”, the inspirational goddess in Greek mythology.
Mesdemoiselles Profiteroles, along with Häagen-Dazs’ classic strawberry ice-cream and newly launched Almond Panna Cotta ice-cream, will be available from July 1 to Aug. 31 exclusively at Hotel ICON.
Chloe Chow contributed to this article.
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