20 Jan 2023

HKBU and HKACE: COVID-19 has fundamentally changed shopping behaviour

A collaborative survey from HKBU and HKACE found that COVID-19 had a direct impact on changing our shopping behaviour

A collaborative survey conducted by Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and the Hong Kong Association for Customer Service Excellence (HKACE) has found that COVID-19 resulted in structural changes in consumers’ shopping behaviour.

The “Online Shopping Experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Hong Kong” survey was led by Professor Christy M.K. Cheung, Professor of the Department of Management, Marketing and Information Systems at HKBU, in collaboration with HKACE in 2022. A total of 488 Hong Kong consumers participated in the survey, including 207 local university students and 281 working consumers from HKACE. In a nutshell, here are the survey’s biggest findings:

• The COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the adoption and preference for online shopping among consumers, particularly those of younger demographics.

• As a general trend, consumers shifted from physical stores to e-commerce platforms. It is now evident that for a business to retain customers, an excellent e-service experience is a must.

• In addition to typical e-commerce platforms, younger demographics are more willing to use social media platforms, including live-streaming platforms, for online shopping.

“HKBU is delighted to partner with HKACE to conduct this important survey in understanding the booming of e-commerce during the pandemic,” said Professor Cheung. “The pandemic has forced people to stay at home and consume at home, escalating the growth of e-commerce in Hong Kong. This structural change is here to stay and thus it is important to understand consumers’ online shopping experiences and offer merchants insights into retaining consumers and recalibrating their e-commerce strategies for the post-COVID era.”


Explaining the shift from physical stores to e-commerce platforms

In the survey, respondents were asked to report their shopping habits on different channels both before and during COVID-19. Before COVID, 29% of respondents evaluated themselves as high frequent shoppers in physical stores, and 25% of them viewed themselves as frequent shoppers on e-commerce platforms. During COVID, only 18% of respondents evaluated themselves as high frequent shoppers in physical stores, and 48% of them viewed themselves as frequent shoppers on e-commerce platforms.

Evidently, there was significant growth in e-commerce activities in Hong Kong during the pandemic. Due to social distancing and self-quarantine policies in the city, survey respondents – like many other residents – heavily relied on e-commerce platforms to buy groceries. The survey found that HKTV mall was the most mentioned e-commerce platform for online shopping during the pandemic.


#TrendingNow: Gen Z and diversifying online shopping channels

Gen Z were frequent e-shoppers during the pandemic; the survey showed that around 80% of university students shopped once every two days or once per day on online shopping platforms. The survey also anticipated growing demand for diversifying online shopping channels.

The survey results showed that Gen Z were more likely to purchase on social media platforms; 30% of university students reported that they frequently purchased on social media platforms, but only 10% of working consumers said that they were high frequent shoppers on social media platforms. They had an overall positive attitude toward social media platforms and reported that they had positive live-streaming shopping experiences.

“We believe all merchants have to ride on the digital-first era, review their service processes and refresh the service team with new capabilities to satisfy the customers in the digitised generation,” said Quince Chong, Chairman of HKACE.


To read more about this fascinating research, head over to HKBU’s website.

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