Hong Kong's economy was hit hard by the pandemic last year, and although there are some signs showing the improvement of the local employment market in 2021, the sales and marketing industry has had to change to meet the rise of new trends and consumer habits, according to HR & Recruitment agency Link's International's latest report. In fact, digital marketing, eCommerce and other online specialist positions continue to be high in demand in Hong Kong and corporations are now valuing digital specialist roles and moving away from generic marketing roles, meaning that some traditional positions starting to become less sought-after,
The Hong Kong economy was severely impacted by the pandemic in 2020 and the sales and marketing function was even one of the most severely affected sectors, said the report. The report also highlighted that positions in the retail, FMCG and hospitality industries have been particularly hard hit.
Also, many professionals were released into the talent pool due to redundancy or restructuring, and do not yet fit the current available specialist job roles on the market.
As consumers' preference has changed amid the pandemic as they go online and shop, the report said corporations are valuing specialist roles like social media, CRM, SEO or SEM experts. The report said most consumer brands are now moving to some form of online retailing. Selling on social media has been particularly popular when targeting the new tech-savvy generation. Customers are now increasingly interacting with businesses through digital channels. The relationship between sales and IT will therefore be redefined, with sales professionals having increased involvement and input in tech-related decisions.
Sales and marketing practitioners with knowledge in digital can enjoy a better salary. For example, a digital marketing director can earn up to HK$115,000, while a veteran SEO, SEM, social media and CRM specialist can have a monthly income of about HK$80,000. An experienced eCommerce practitioner can earn up to HK$77,500 too.
However, traditional positions such as marketing communications are becoming increasingly less sought-after. A content marketing veteran is earning approximately HK$55,000 a month.
As some businesses in the sales and marketing sector rely heavily on visitors, with border closures, tourism has largely dried up and hammered related businesses. The report said companies have identified that targeting the local market is a good way to build up resilience. Promotions aimed at local residents like parking privileges, staycations and shopping coupons are becoming increasingly prevalent to encourage consumer spending. This is likely to fuel the need for local strategist talent in the second half of 2020 and 2021.
Hong Kong’s visitor number was 3.57 million last year, a 93.6% drop from 2019, but this has not stopped businesses looking for specialists in social media and online marketplaces with multi-platform management experience. Experts in social media platforms such as WeChat, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and e-marketplaces such as Tmall, JD.com, Amazon, Zalora are growing in demand.
Recent statistics from the Hong Kong government have shown that Hong Kong’s economic rebound continued Q2 2021, with gross domestic product growing 7.5% year-on-year. The unemployment rate dropped sharply to 5.5% for the three-month period ending in June, down 0.5 percentage points from the period spanning March to May. However, it does not mean that employees in the sales and marketing sector can enjoy a significant pay rise.
Salary increments are expected to be not significant, with a 15% increase with job change being the top end. Employees staying at the same position can expect an increment of up to 5%, higher than the average of the Hong Kong job market (4%). End-of-year bonuses for sales and marketing professionals should be unexpected and should only be available for top-performing sales positions. Looking ahead, most people currently in jobs are unwilling to move to new opportunities due to the unstable market and see it as a risky move. Large and economically stable companies are seen as more attractive, while local mid-size corporations with a well-established history are also drawing increased attention from talent than before.