20 Feb 2004
A Shining Example(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 03,2004)
Vol 3, 2004
Hong Kong Brands
The Sound Of Success
A Shining Example
John Mfg Ltd
John Mfg Ltd designs, manufactures and markets more than 200 different products
It was a logical step for John Mfg Ltd, which has been developing its own products and marketing strategies for nearly 40 years, to come up with a brand name, according to marketing director Thomas Mak. John Mfg thus became one of the first Hong Kong companies to manufacture and market high-quality lighting products under its Johnlite brand name.
"We chose the name Johnlite because it is easy to remember and ties in strongly with 90% of our product range, which features lighting," explains Mak.
"In the early 1970s most companies were simply manufacturing, but we saw marketing and branding as a positive way of growing the company," he recalls. "In those days, we spent close to US$100,000 on developing brand awareness."
Today, John Mfg designs, manufactures and markets more than 200 products, including electrical household and lighting products such as powerful spotlights, radio lanterns, multifunction lanterns, TV lanterns, vacuum cleaners, air fresheners and ionisers, money detectors, personal security alarms, emergency power failure lights and night lights.
In 1965, John Mfg produced and marketed an award-winning rechargeable grass cutter. "At the time, John Mfg was one of very few companies anywhere in the world which could produce rechargeable batteries," claims Mak.
He believes the company's growth and success hinges not only on an extensive catalogue of products but also on creating strong brand awareness. "On average we spend US$1.5m each year on marketing and advertising," Mak adds.
Attendance at exhibitions and numerous trade fairs also boosts branding and marketing efforts. "Trade shows are the backbone of our marketing drive and the platforms where we introduce our innovative designs," claims Mak.
Outstanding quality, excellent customer service, competitive pricing and timely delivery are also crucial components required to build a solid brand name, he adds.
The company spots opportunities by closely monitoring promising trends, and regularly sends its R&D staff on fact-finding trips to major design centres in the US, Europe and Asia. "This gives us a feel for emerging trends," explains Mak.
He adds that understanding consumer needs is extremely important as different markets may require size and colour variations when designing new products.
Among the company's most successful products are an award-winning toolbox lantern and a TV fitted with a lamp designed for outdoor and indoor use. "There are several different designs for both these items, which are as popular in the US as they are in Africa," says Mak.
Thanks to more than three decades of marketing and branding expertise, the company has managed to avoid major marketing failures. Mak notes that in line with the worldwide trend, the company is considering working with film and music personalities to raise brand awareness.
"Although we don't consult clients before developing a new product range, whenever we design a new item we send it to customers and ask for their comments," he says. "Once we receive feedback, we make samples and send them free-of-charge to long-term customers to inform them of our new products. This also helps to maintain good relations."
The company produces 12-15 new items each year, which takes 90-120 days from concept to market launch.
"We use the same strategy for our electrical, technology, home care and do-it-yourself tools and products marketed under the John Tech, Johndex and Parley Tools brand names," Mak says.
Production of the entire product range takes place at two factories comprising 850,000 square feet in Buji and Fuyong in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland. There is a workforce of about 3,000.
"About 55% of our exports go to the US, 20% to Europe, 10% to South America, 10% to East Asia and the rest to the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa," says sales manager Susan Chan. "We have online production quality control, as well as finished product quality assurance," she adds.
The company is ISO 9001-certified and has received numerous awards for marketing including the 2003 Hong Kong Awards for Industry:Export Marketing Award. "We will continue to build on our achievements by developing innovative products and providing excellent customer service, combined with competitive prices that will ensure the continued success of the Johnlite brand worldwide," Chan states.
WRITTEN BY CHRIS DAVIS
John Mfg Ltd
Yau Lee Centre,
45 Hoi Yuen Rd, Kwun Tong,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
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