The lucrative kids’ market in Hong KongOctober 30, 2011 / By
October is the peak month for parents to prepare school applications and interviews. A recent news headline noted that, according to a poll, some 90% of parents believe that getting their child into a famous school is even more important than the election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive! Well, I may not agree with this extreme mindset, but I do understand that a child’s education is a very high priority for parents.
Indeed, a recent MasterCard survey indicated that Hong Kong parents spend an average of 13% of their monthly personal income on their children’s education and around 88% arrange for their children to participate in at least one enrichment class. In fact, education is considered a necessity to many parents, with its importance to some of them perhaps even on a par with food and housing. I believe that, if a survey were to be conducted, most parents would say that a child’s education is one of the last things they would cut, even in a bad economy that affects their personal income.
Although the high value Hong Kong parents place on education has caused anxiety in today’s highly competitive environment, on the bright side, the stiff competition has offered retailers, service providers, and the landlords of shopping centres tremendous business opportunities. It is no longer headline news when parents spend a fortune on educational tools or put their baby’s name down for a playgroup with a long waiting list. The market has also seen an increasing trend for landlords of shopping centres to focus on the lucrative kids’ market. Windsor House and Whampoa’s Wonderful World are just two of the city’s core centres that have recently opened kids’ zones that focus on kids products, after renovations.
On the other hand, the education trade is particularly welcomed by landlords of non-core shopping centres to fill up vacant space with low exposure and limited traffic as this trade does not require these elements to promote business. Instead, education requires strong clustering to save parents time by allowing their children and their siblings to attend multiple different classes. Hence, the market has also seen many Grade B/C commercial buildings heavily weighted towards an educational trade mix.
Looking ahead, although signs point to a slowdown in Hong Kong’s economic growth over the next few quarters, I believe that the kids’ market, especially educational trade, will offer the commercial market sustainable leasing demand well into the future.
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