Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Is insulting Hong Kong people good for business?

Following the recent Dolce & Gabbana case, where the Italian fashion chain kicked up a storm by telling local people that only mainland visitors were allowed to photograph its flagship store in Canton Road, another international fashion chain appears to share the view that insulting Hong Kong people is a smart business move.  French chain Agnes b opened a new cafe in Tseung Kwan O with menus in English and simplified Chinese (as used on the mainland) only, triggering another wave of outrage on the local blogscape.  This kind of decision can only exacerbate the growing feeling among Hongkongers that mainland money is making them second class citizens in their own home.

Dolce & Gabbana took weeks to eventually apologise.  Agnes b has been quicker off the mark and already promised to change its menus to include traditional Chinese.

What I find ironic is that these luxury chains spend millions of dollars each year to build and promote their brand names around the world, only to discredit them through such thoughtless and discriminatory actions.  Are they totally brainless, or are these decisions taken thousands of miles away by executives with no sensitivity to the local cultures of the places where they operate?