MCI Life: entering the Greater Bay Area as a community

10 2019 | Issue 35
Text/Lai Chou In and Salie Lei

What does nine plus two equal to? The answer is not simply eleven. When nine cities from the Pearl River Delta merge with Hong Kong and Macao, a grander market and more business opportunities are created.


The recent development of the Greater Bay Area, which promotes higher integration of nine cities of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province with Hong Kong and Macao, has been receiving increasing attention. From trade and commerce, finance, tourism to technology, the Greater Bay Area focuses on strengthening the communication and collaboration between the nine cities from Guangdong province and the two SARs (Special Administrative Regions). And of course, the cultural and creative industry is also part of the integration and collaboration initiative. In this issue’s Feature, we have invited representatives from three Macao enterprises in the cultural and creative industry, Todot Design, Theatre Farmers and Macao Mango International Media Limited, to share their stories on integrating into the Greater Bay Area as well as how they can utilise their own advantages in a bigger market and tell Macao’s stories.

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Macao Mango International Media Limited: entering the Greater Bay Area as a community


A cultural and creative store from Macao covering an area of 2,000 square feet has recently opened. Customers can find an overwhelming number of fashion items and daily products in the store, all of which are made by local companies. However, this cultural and creative, MCI Life, is not located in Macao, but in the One Plus One Supermarket in Nanlang Zhongshan. MCI Life provides a great channel for cultural and creative products from Macao to shine in the Great Bay Area market.


Building a platform for local brands to go beyond Macao


MCI Life was planned by Macao Mango International Media Limited (hereafter referred to “Macao Mango”). After around six months of planning and organising, MCI Life was launched for trial operation in April in Nanlang Zhongshan. The store started the official operation two months later. In MCI Life, customers will be able to find products from 15 cultural and creative brands from Macao, such as I.N.K, UESOME, Mag Taylor and Candy’s House, etc. 60% of the products being sold at MCI Life are fashion items, while stationary, decoration products and daily products account for the rest. “My team and I are very familiar with the business ecosystem in the mainland. We have also accumulated some networks,” Caccy Choi, Executive Director of Macao Mango said. “We noticed that local brands and designers in Macao have always lacked the opportunities to increase exposure. That’s the moment we realised that perhaps we could build up a platform through which local brands can enter other markets as a community.”


Choi has been building up a professional career in the mainland market for many years. Last year, Choi teamed up with her partners and founded Macao Mango. “MCI Life’s operation model is something like this. The local brands in Macao will supply us with the products. As for us, we are responsible for daily operation and marketing, etc.,” she explained. “For instance, we will be able to identify different Macao brands’ features and selling points by communicating with them. Then we make use of our experience to come up with tailored marketing strategies for them.”


Online and offline marketing


In this age of social media, marketing plans tend to prioritise mainland social platforms such as WeChat, Weibo and TikTok, etc. In addition, Macao Mango also optimised its information on search engines like Baidu, Sogou and 360 Search, etc., allowing MCI Life’s marketing information to reach more targeted consumers. The team also opened up online stores on Taobao and WeChat mini-app, letting consumers buy cultural and creative products from Macao without having to step out of their house. “But still, we have only been operating for a few months. Consumers tend to be more cautious about brands that they are not familiar with,” she said. “So we still need more time to build up our brand reputation for cultural and creative brands from Macao in mainland China. In terms of offline promotion, Choi pointed out that they would plan promotional events in accordance with the public holidays in mainland China to attract more consumers. For instance, on the opening day of MCI Life in June this year, Macao Mango organised a fashion show that showcased fashion designs from Macao and invited Macao singers to perform for the opening event, displaying the cultural and creative potential that Macao has.


More time needed for commercialisation


After a few months’ operations, MCI Life still needs more time to formulate better collaboration with creative and cultural brands from Macao and therefore there is still a lot of growth potential for MCI Life. “At present, MCI Life still lacks a diverse inventory of products. The total value of all the products we have at MCI Life is around MOP200,000,” Choi said. “This is not enough. We are hoping that the amount can at least double in the future.” From Choi’s perspective, Macao’s advantage lies in its cultural heritages that integrate both western and eastern culture when compared with other cities in the Greater Bay Area. In her opinion, cultural and creative companies from Macao should utilise these strengths and infuse these cultural elements into their products.


Mainland consumers generally appreciate cultural and creative designs from Macao. They think our products have good quality and beautiful design,” Choi said. “But this doesn’t necessarily mean we can have a lot of customers. This is probably due to the fact that their different expectation on the products’ design, colour and size. That’s why we would collect feedback from the consumers and send reports to the brands in Macao for reference. We would also invite them to participate in our events and really get the chance to see how their products are doing at MCI Life so that they can improve their products.”


Gaining a foothold in second and third-tier cities


Besides MCI Life, Macao Mango has many other platforms for testing the waters for the cultural and creative industry in Macao. Its IP Chain Operation Project in Guangdong/Hong Kong/Macao for Motivating the Creative and Cultural Industry programme has received funding from the Macao Cultural Industry Fund under Specific Subsidy Programme for Brand Building. Macao Mango has also recently opened an outlet called MCI by Macao in an One Plus One supermarket in Sanxiang, another district in Zhongshan, covering an area of 1,500 square feet. The outlet aggregates products from around ten fashion brands from Macao. When compared with MCI Life, MCI by Macao mainly targets younger consumers and sets up many photo-taking spots to appeal to young consumers.


We plan to open five stores that sell cultural and creative products in the Greater Bay Area within 24 months during the project. This includes MCI Life and MCI by Macao. When choosing operation sites, we would mainly consider transportation convenience and the visitor flow,” Choi said, telling us that the next three stores might happen in second and third-tier cities considering the development scale of Macao’s cultural and creative brands. “If we go to first-tier cities in mainland China, Macao brands might find it difficult to compete in the market in terms of product design, production scale and quality. In this case, it is better for us to test the waters in second and third-tier cities and gain momentum step by step. I think MCI Life is already a successful step that leads us to the outside market.”


Macao Mango International Media Limited

The company provides services in promotion for local and international brands, marketing planning and advertisement production, etc. Macao Mango is dedicated to developing its programme—IP Chain Operation Project in Guangdong/Hong Kong/Macao for Motivating the Creative and Cultural Industry backed by the Macao Cultural Industry Fund’s Specific Subsidy Programme for Brand Building. The company opened the first MCI Life store in Zhongshan in June 2019, providing local consumers with cultural and creative products from Macao brands. /