HK Identity Changing as Traditional Activities Like Mahjong Decreases Steeply Over the Past 5 Years

Betting and drinking patterns in Hong Kong have shifted dramatically over the past five years.


  • Number of Mahjong players declining sharply across all age groups.

  • Mark 6 betting stable, with proportion of social betting (once a year bets) increasing across all segments of the Hong Kong population.

  • Visits to Macau by Hong Kong citizens see strong rise over past two years... until the last quarter.

  • Number of women doing soccer and horse betting increases steeply too.

  • Clear reduction in alcohol consumption hides a massive increase of alcohol consumption for women (+151% increase in weekly consumption!).

The end of Mahjong in Hong Kong?

Only 6% of people in Hong Kong declare playing Mahjong weekly, against 10% five years ago, according to the latest wave of the Ipsos Media Atlas Survey. The study surveys a sample of 5,000 people representative of the Hong Kong population yearly, since 2006.

The decline is without precedent and of similar proportion across all age groups: Within the 18-24 year old segment, only 2% declare playing mahjong weekly (against 8% in 2012) and 14% monthly (22% in 2012). This may not come as a surprise when talking about the new smartphone gaming generation, older age groups see a similar decline. Among the 45-54 year old segment, only 7% declare playing mahjong weekly (14% in 2012) and less than one in five (19%) monthly, when over a third (37%) did so back in 2012.

Even among the oldest age group included in the survey, the 55-64 year old segment, the drop is consequent: 9% declare playing weekly (15% in 2012) and 23% monthly, against 39% in 2012. 


Shifts in Betting patterns: Women on the rise 

The betting landscape in Hong Kong is changing. While soccer betting sees a moderate decrease overall (10% betting weekly in 2017 against 12% in 2012, and 14% betting monthly in 2017 against 18% in 2012) the trends hides opposite patterns for men and women. As men soccer betting decreases by about 10%, women betting doubles over the same period (see chart below). This said, the overall number of women betting on soccer remains fairly low.

Horse race betting sees a similar trend. Overall, the trend remains stable (14% betting weekly, 20% monthly, 26% yearly, in 2012 and today), the decrease in the number of men betting on horse racing is largely compensated by that of women: 5% women now declare betting on horse racing at least once a week (1% in 2012), 10% at least once a month (5% in 2012) and 14% at least once a year (9% in 2012).

The other category seeing a similar trend, while not being about betting, is alcohol consumption.


Women alcohol consumption explodes... and sometimes even surpasses men’s

The study shows a clear decrease in alcohol consumption over the past five years in Hong Kong (-11% for weekly consumption, -12% for monthly consumption) – across ALL age groups – but at the same time, a massive increase in alcohol consumption for women (+151% weekly and +19% monthly).

As such 14% of women in Hong Kong now declare drinking alcohol at least once a week (6% in 2012) and nearly a third (31%) at least once a month (26% in 2012). While those numbers remain well below those of men consumption, it is mostly for one reason; beer.                   

The gap in beer consumption between men and women remains wide, despite the rise in monthly consumption for women (up to 26% in 2017) and a strong decrease for men (45%, down 30% from 64% in 2012).

However, in all other alcohol categories, women not only did catch up with men, but sometimes even surpass them.

Hong Kong women almost drink as much wine (red or white) than men, with 21% drinking red wine at least once a month (25% for men), and 14% drinking white wine (16% for men).

More surprisingly perhaps, women have completely caught up with men in the consumption of stronger forms of alcohol: 9% declare drinking brandy at least once a month (8.5% for men), 10% for whisky (on par with men), 7% for rice wine (on par with men) and 8% sake (again on par with men). 


Mixed message for Macau

Media Atlas data surveyed from Q4 2015 to Q1 2017 did show a massive increase in the number of Hong Kong people who say they have gambled in Macau casinos at least once in the past 12 months, from 8% end 2015 to over 20% early 2017, for both men (22%) and women (19%). This includes nearly a quarter (23%) of the 35-44 population. Incidentally, while numbers for this age group increased further over the following quarter (25% when surveyed in Q2 2017), all other age groups having a small decline in Q2 2017 compared with Q1 2017, in a result of reducing the overall proportion from 20% to 18% of people who declare gambling in a Macau casino at least once a year.


About Media Atlas

This 12th annual Ipsos Media Atlas Hong Kong study captures a complete cross section of society, revealing the media consumption, attitudes and lifestyles of Hong Kong consumers. It covers 5,074 Hong Kong respondents aged 12 to 64 in April 2016 to March 2017. The Ipsos Media Atlas Hong Kong study tracks:

  1. Media consumption, product ownership, attitudes and values using computer assisted telephone interviews (CATI).

  2. Brand, spending pattern and lifestyle insights using online and offline data collection.

Ipsos works closely with major media specialists, media owners and advertisers in Hong Kong to develop surveys relevant to local applications.

All comparisons between results of 2012 and 2017 are performed amongst those aged 18 to 64.


About Ipsos

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is the only independent market research company that is controlled and managed by research professionals. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 84 countries, Ipsos has the resources to conduct research wherever in the world our clients do business.

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