As the Hong Kong economy continues to gain momentum, the general public's spending patterns shift and the demand for quality lifestyles becomes apparent.
Apart from providing discerning Hong Kong consumers with quality food and lifestyle products, City Super Limited also aims to promote a food culture.
Since 1996, City Super Limited (City'super) has established itself as a leading Hong Kong specialty store. The company closely watches changing lifestyle trends and incorporates them into its business development plans, says Bonnie Chow, marketing manager, City Super Limited. "We introduce new trends to Hong Kong through products and information and find that the public is extremely receptive to new ideas."
According to Ms Chow, City'super outlets regularly host store activities such as food festivals in order to introduce and promote different cuisines from around the globe. At these events, customers are offered freshly cooked dishes so that they can experience the different favours for themselves.
The stores also provide videos, leaflets and basic recipes containing additional information about particular food products. The company's Culture Club kitchen studios hold monthly cooking classes, where customers learn to cook various types of cuisines.
"Most customers are willing to spend on quality food products, as long as they get value for money," Ms Chow remarks. "We distinguish ourselves from supermarkets and other food stores offering mainly local brands, as we have more than 40,000 high-end specialty items from Europe, Australia, Japan and other countries. Products are imported weekly in small quantities, so our customers can be assured they are getting the quality and variety they are looking for."
Hong Kong food lovers can look forward to City'super bringing more new flavours to its cooking classes, as well as to additional food festivals during the rest of the year. "Our Tuscany festival in March was a big hit and our Taiwan Fair will run through June and July," Ms Chow says. "In upcoming festivals, we'll be introducing new products and recipes. There are also plans to collaborate with a number of renowned Hong Kong restaurants to attract fine diners."
A strong marketing team is key to organising and executing City'super store activities and promotions. Aside from initiating and planning events, the team also untilises diverse channels such as e-commerce and online advertising to reach their audience, Ms Chow points out.
"Our marketing people are also responsible for approaching and liaising with consulates of foreign countries when organising food festivals and visits to overseas farms and institutions," she notes. "In our profession, a keen sense of market trends, good communication and teamwork skills are key to success. A marketing degree or previous experience in retail is an advantage, though it depends on the job function and the candidate's personality."
At City'super, a passion for food is the first thing the company looks for in a candidate who must also be eager to learn. "This is particularly important because we have new products coming in every day and we're always looking out for new developments," Ms Chow remarks.
The company offers a wide range of career opportunities to candidates of the right calibre. Managers closely monitor new recruits' progress and may transfer them between departments for greater exposure within the company and the industry.
"We've had instances of staff with outstanding product knowledge moving from the warehouse to the buying team, while I've also had staff from my team choosing to work on the frontline instead," Ms Chow says.
Considering the range of career options within the company, staff training at all levels remains a focal point. While senior employees benefit from management and leadership training, frontline staff serving local, expatriate and foreign customers can take advantage of language and customer-service programmes. Product knowledge workshops and tasting of new food products are available for all employees.
"It's crucial that all our staff learn about and taste the products themselves, so that they have a thorough understanding of what we're offering our customers," Ms Chow stresses. "We also organise many cross-departmental activities such as team building games so that staff can learn more about our overall operation and culture. This is an important part of staff development and gives employees insight into different job functions, inspiring them to strive towards new roles in the future."