Physicist Isaac Newton reputedly had his apple-driven eureka! moment on gravity while studying at a farm in rural Lincolnshire, where he had taken refuge from the plague-struck university town of Cambridge. He also advanced his work on optics and calculus while isolated.
But while he was productive working remotely, he had to return to Trinity College in 1666 to put quill to parchment and actively promote his discoveries.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has managed to rapidly expand its online offerings during the hiatus in physical fairs brought by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, replacing footfall and physical networking with click-throughs and virtual meetings. Despite the lightning-fast adaptation, the enthusiastic response to the HKTDC’s first walk-in exhibition in more than a year showed that the physical format remains critical.
The HKTDC Lifestyle ShoppingFest debuted at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) last week, coming to a successful close on 2 May. The fair kicked off on 28 April and ran over five days, featuring 430 exhibitors and attracting more than 55,000 public visitors.
“The Lifestyle ShoppingFest is the first physical show organised by the HKTDC since the pandemic began early last year. We implemented a series of anti-pandemic measures to safeguard the health and safety of participants” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau.
“We were pleased to see a positive response from exhibitors and the public, reflecting the fact that physical shows are irreplaceable,” he said. “The HKTDC responded to the needs of Hong Kong enterprises, bringing them additional selling opportunities during a challenging period, while the public were provided with an enjoyable shopping experience.”
The Lifestyle ShoppingFest will be followed by the HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair and concurrent public fairs running in from 14 to 20 July.
The organiser will also host the HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show and HKTDC Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show from 25 to 29 July, and the physical component of the HKTDC International Sourcing Show from 26 to 29 July. These events, the first concurrent physical trade fairs to be staged by the HKTDC since the pandemic, are expected to generate synergies across industries, enhancing sourcing efficiency and creating more opportunities for cross-industry exhibitors.
The Lifestyle ShoppingFest was a valuable opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to understand more about consumers’ preferences. An HKTDC survey gauged the views of exhibitors, finding that 75% of exhibitors agreed that physical shows can help to boost their businesses.
“The pandemic has inevitably decelerated the economy and had an impact on exports and local retail. The Lifestyle ShoppingFest is a timely opportunity to provide a solid selling platform for various industries as the pandemic subsides,” said Hong Kong exhibitor Richard Leung, Director of the Ballerina Watch Company Limited.
“Consumers of high-end products such as jewellery and watches prefer examining tangible products, which explains the importance of physical fairs,” he added. He anticipated that as the pandemic comes under control, sales of food and hygiene products will see a brisk recovery, followed by a progressive resumption of sales for high-end consumer products.
It was the first time for Hong Kong exhibitor optical agent Opticon Ltd to take part in a local public fair. “We focused on commercial clients in the past, but we are now looking to explore the retail market,” explained Director Christopher Chan. “The people flow and atmosphere at the Lifestyle ShoppingFest was good, helping us to get to know more about consumers’ preferences. which in turn will give us more confidence to build up our retail business.”
OMG Design, the sole agent of Israel suitcase brand Rollink in Asia, promoted its feature products at the fair, having seen strong growth in consumer demand for household products amid the pandemic. “The Lifestyle ShoppingFest showcased a wide range of products that attracted local consumers from different age groups. We adjusted our marketing strategy, offering special prices to attract visitors at the fair. We successfully sold more than 100 Rollink suitcase at a discount of 45%, earning revenue of approximately HK$80,000,” said Business Development Manager Andy Cheung. Hr also met a jewellery industry buyer and wine supplier interested in using the company’s suitcases for product packaging and corporate gifts. He hopes to close more business deals after the fair.
To help exhibitors grasp online business opportunities, the KOL Live Station was set up at the fair, showcasing a range of highlighted products. A series of live-broadcast sessions featured products from nearly 60 exhibitors.
The HKTDC also collaborated with e-commerce platform Boutir to offer exhibitors the chance to open an online shop with a free three-month support service.
Fun-filled events held during the fair included cooking demonstrations by master chefs, rope-skipping (main picture) and smart bidding auctions.
Public snap up gourmet products
A survey of visitors to the fair showed the four most popular product categories to be food and drink (75%), healthcare and sanitary products (20%), houseware (20%), as well as luxury products such as jewellery and watches (18%). The reasons visitors found the show attractive included special prices and discount offers (65%), product quality (61%), and the variety of products offered (57%).
Of those surveyed, 82% of visitors expressed satisfaction with the health and safety measures put in place at the show, including reminders on social distancing, the cleanliness of public areas, and minimising the exchange of cash at the event.
Hong Kong Trade Development Council events