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Lessons learnt from local mask brands: Masks with good quality may not necessarily arouse heated discussion

Source: Wisers      2021.01.12

As wearing a mask has become a habit of the public amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market saw a shopping spree with local mask factories springing up. However, masks made in Hong Kong have mixed quality. Therefore, people talked more about quality rather than quantity about masks. Which mask brands are the most discussed by netizens? Will brands with high quality be hotly discussed on the Internet? We can find answers by analyzing the big data and even learn lessons about marketing strategies.    

Hottest mask brand: HKTVmall’s mask stands out thanks to cheap price

Wisers' report "Pandemic Index 2.0" released in mid-2020 mentioned the results of "comparison of mask brands". The Wisers' team analyzed 27 mask brands from six retailers to calculate the number of mentions by netizens from January to May and find the netizen’s comments with the highest engagement. (listed as follows) 

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According to the findings, HKTVmall ranked first as it was mentioned 6,655 times in posts about masks. Most netizens opined that the price of HK$2 for a HKTVmall mask was lower than that of its peers. Watsons, Mask Factory, Factory under Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, and Ultra Ready ranked from second to fifth as they were mentioned 5,481 times, 5,305 times, 3,861 times and 1,852 times, respectively. Netizens’ discussions on Watsons, Mask Factory and Ultra Ready were mostly associated with their supply and orders, and few were about the quality. Factory under Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, despite its fourth place in ranking, suffered non-positive comments. Netizens mainly suspected the Hong Kong government of transferring benefits to the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions as the former bought masks from the latter for HK$3 each, which was considered a too high price.

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As the supply of masks stabilized, the quality aroused heated discussion again. According to the result of a survey conducted by Consumer Council about quality of masks on December 15, brand quality was not proportional to the degree of discussion. Consumer Council released the report about 30 types of masks, evaluating them from such aspects as bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE), particle filtration efficiency (PFE) and bacteria content test. The full score was set at five, and ten brands got full score. Four types of masks tested by Consumer Council, namely HKTVMall, Watsons, Family Mask and Ultra Ready, were on the list of "comparison of mask brands", a report by Wisers. Among those listed in Consumer Council rankings and Wisers report, Ultra Ready was the only heatedly-discussed brand that has received a five-star rating from the Consumer Council. Other brands that have come under the spotlight were also given high ratings, such as the 4.5 stars for Watsons and four stars for Family Mask. However, the HKTVmall mask most mentioned by netizens only received a 3.5-star rating.

Judging from the test results of the Consumer Council, quality brands with five-star ratings were not well-received among netizens. This underscores the importance of online marketing strategy, as high quality does not necessarily result in an extensive popularity in the Internet age. Wisers has detected success stories of a number of hot brands. For instance, Watsons and HKTVmall always caused a sensation with their announcements of online mask sale at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As mentioned in Wisers’ “Pandemic Index 2.0” report, February 14 was the happiest day of netizens between January and May, when Watsons opened its online real-name registration system for mask purchases. Many netizens showed their support for this, which proved that online sales maintained a strong growth momentum amid the pandemic.

As for Ultra Ready masks that are superior in quality and have also generated heated discussion, the reason behind the brand’s success is believed to be associated with its strategy of touching Hong Kong people with products “Made in HK”. The team found that one of the brand’s posts that have generated the most heated discussion is the brand’s announcement made in April 2020 on its Facebook account, saying its production line will be transferred to Hong Kong and the trial production will start in May. The post generated over 11,000 likes, comments from over one thousand netizens and more than 500 reposts.

What we learned from local mask marketing is that users’ concerns also require attention in addition to marketing strategies in the Internet era. In the meantime, we need to grasp the shift in public opinion and timely highlight the strengths of the brand online. If the strengths involve professional and profound information such as that on evaluation of mask quality, “education-based” or “all-in-one for dummies” marketing strategies can be good options to relate the quality to the brand. High quality and high buzz together enable a better result more easily.

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