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True love, Cantonese-style

Dating boutique for high-income earners targets Cantonese-speaking locals

Have you ever paid HK$10,000 for a date? If so, according to dating boutique My Champagne based in Hong Kong and Macau, then you might have got a discount, as some high-end dating boutiques are charging between HK$60,000 and HK$300,000 to manage your love life.
Eunice Sim, Manager of My Champagne, tells Business Daily that the matchmakers have undercut their competition by about 50 to 60 per cent, charging by age and gender of their clients, with a three-date package for a 35-year old woman costing HK$8,800, while a male counterpart of the same age gets the same package for HK$3,600, and for both genders, the younger the client the cheaper the price.
According to the group’s studies, the single male population in Hong Kong is smaller than the single female population, with Sim noting that “many ladies are single, so men have many choices,” as reflected in the lower price point to attract more clientele.
Not only does pricing vary, explains Sim, both parties tend to follow their stereotypes when procuring a partner: men pursue appearance and women pursue financial health.
“For ladies looking for a partner, their requirements general speaking are focused on the financial status and background: job, education, income and if they own property,” comments Sim. “Sometimes, they won’t tell you so honestly or directly, but we know that because we deal with them.”
“But for the guys, their main requirement, the first priority, is appearance,” said the manager.
This reflects itself in who the company accepts as clients, as men with lower incomes are harder to find matches for, whereas women with lower incomes are less likely to find it to be a negative factor. Generally, male clients are in their 20s to late-40s, while female clients are in their 20s to late-30s.
The group even offers free of charge dates to women, especially those with a “quite nice profile” to paying male clients, relying upon word of mouth recommendations from the female client to attract future clients, which Sim describes as “very helpful for the business to be sustainable.”

Building a database
Started in 2012, spotting an opportunity due to a non-expanding social circle (stuck at the secondary school and university colleague stage), Sim realised that others within highly demanding professions such as hers (an auditor and accountant) wanted to meet new people. By combining the databases of herself and her friends, Sim started My Champagne, expanding from Hong Kong to Macau in the same year.
With about 100 clients in the MSAR and over 2,000 in Hong Kong, the firm plans to expand to Shanghai in May this year as research finds it to have “one of the highest populations in terms of single people” in a city of over 20 million.
The business primarily targets the “high-end market . . . [whose] . . . purchasing power is quite high” with clients initially mainly from the banking sector, but later expanding to education, law, academia and beyond.
Having worked for a large, formerly-U.S. listed, Mainland dating company, Sim saw a non-sustainable concept being applied, trying to “get most of the market share, so that people know the brand well,” but found that the “large budget in marketing and advertising” wasn’t driving growth. Thus, Sim applied a more conservative approach, halving the price and offering free dating advice to clients.
In addition, by collaborating with other dating companies opening the same year, and matchmaking clients between them, the group was able to reach a broader range of incomes and backgrounds.

Future together
The approach has been successful, with the group now hitting an “important milestone” – hiring a lawyer to certify marriages resulting from the service, a type of dating company audit. In an industry that “is quite competitive” with many newcomers starting speed dating businesses, many of which “don’t have physical offices,” and by renting venues and charging hundreds of Hong Kong dollars per ticket, My Champagne has – after its initial promotional campaign in newspapers and magazines – relied more upon word of mouth, channelling the saved marketing money into expansion.
“It’s easy to set up a dating company [with] no government regulations just in Hong Kong you have to apply for a business registration,” comments Sim. However, one of the main secrets to the group’s success – keeping it local, with most of their clients Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong and Macau residents searching for their counterparts locally – is paying off.