April 10, 2013 Ipsos Media of Hong Kong released an overview of a survey that queried people aged 12-64 in Hong Kong. The survey was conducted year-round, and Ipsos spoke with 6,100 people to obtain the data, covering the January to December 2012 period. The idea was to presents new insights to reveal the attitudes and behaviours of Hong Kong’s poorest 20%.

The release follows:

Over the past 7 years, Media Atlas has looked at many groups and sectors of the Hong Kong population. This year, we focus on the poorest 20% of the Hong Kong population. These 20% only get 6% of the income share (while the top 20% have 43%). They tend to be older and only 40% of them work full time (over 70% for the richest quintile) [In statistics, a quantilewhere the sample or population is divided into fifths]. Over half (56%) haven’t gone above Form 3 at school. In a fast-paced, mercantile city where rents are soaring, poverty in Hong Kong has become an even bigger factor of exclusion. What does it mean to be part of Hong Kong, to those who are poorer, often older and unemployed?

The digital divide
While technology has become omnipresent in developed societies, most still do not see it as a critical factor of success. In fact, only a quarter (28%) of the Hong Kong people agree that keeping up with modern technology is a key to their success – a roughly homogenous number among all income groups. However, technology, and its impact on everyday communication, remains a critical factor of integration. The poorest 20% of Hong Kong clearly lag behind in the adoption curve. While ownership of a mobile phone in the traditional sense reaches nearly 100%, there are clear differences when it comes to more advanced devices.

Personal Ownership of technology devices
Whether it is smartphones, digital cameras, desktop or laptop PCs, tablets or video cameras, the
poorest 20% of Hong Kong are on average at only two-thirds of the adoption levels of the overall
population. Susanna Lam, Director, Ipsos MediaCT Hong Kong commented: “This means they are not able to experience the conveniences that come with technology, not being able to take and share pictures and videos with friends, accessing emails and social media – being part of the group.”

Mental Exclusion
“Being poor in Hong Kong is not just about money. Exclusion can also be felt in one’s attitude to life and the actual feeling of exclusion” Lam said. As such, only 39% of the poorest quintile believe that they can reach their goals (46% average, 54% for richest quintile) and are the most likely to believe that “good luck is more important than hard work”. (38%, against 32% average and 29% for richest quintile). It is easy not to value money when you have some. For those who do not, money becomes the symbol of their failure to succeed: 32% therefore agree that money is the most important measure of success in life (28% average, 25% for the richest). Less money also means less willingness to take risks in general (12% against 20% average, 27% for richest quintile). This feeling of exclusion leads to an increased feeling of loneliness. The less money they have, the less people in Hong Kong are willing to “make friends, interact and share experiences with them” – in line with the smaller ownership of smartphone and communication devices described above – and that “less people will come to you for help”. Misery isn’t easily shared.

Consumer Attitudes
Because of their limited spending power, the poorest 20% are also more likely to stay at home rather than going out (52% for the poorest quintile against 42% for richest quintile), hence the number of people going to the cinema, to the pub or to karaoke being much smaller than the average.

It’s not all doom and gloom. So what makes people [feel a] belonging]ness] to Hong Kong? Despite their differences, Hong Kong inhabitants do share values and pleasures: One of them is …. Shopping; a third (33%) of Hong Kong people, rich or poor, agree that they “enjoy the fun of shopping”. More than half (53% for the poorest quintile against 58% average) go shopping every week.

However only 14% of Hong Kongers visit a museum /art gallery and only about 7% watch opera/drama in the theatre, once every 2-3 months, both figures being pretty similar across all income groups. Everyone seems to agree that Hong Kong is not famous for its love of the arts!

Another common Asian trait is shared by all parts of Hong Kong society – gambling. Every month, a quarter (24%) makes a bet on horse racing, 32% play mahjong and over half (54%) make a bet on Mark-Six. So while the poorest parts of Hong Kong are more risk averse in everyday life, it clearly does not apply to gambling – where participation levels are similar across all income groups. Once can guess though, that the amounts being bet probably differ.

Media Consumption
There are clear differences in media consumption for the poorest population. Internet, as with the rest of the digital world, remains the biggest barrier. But those among the poorest 20%, who do have internet access, end up using it just as much as the others (130 minutes per day per user, against 139 on average). They are also much less likely to read weekly or monthly magazines.

Television is still king; with daily usage across all groups close to 90%, no other media even comes close to this level of consumption. Daily newspaper consumption is also relatively homogenous albeit at a lower level. Consumption of paid dailies is quite high too for the poorest, at 42% (against 48% for average). Radio is most popular with the poorest segment, mainly due to the high proportion of older people among them.

Mr Nicolas Bijuk, Deputy Director – Marketing, Ipsos Hong Kong
Mobile: + 852 9871 6927
Email: Nicolas.bijuk@ipsos.com