12 Nov 2004
Looking Sharp(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 11,2004)
Hong Kong Brands
The New Sharp Image
|The New Sharp Image company uses its NSIX label to great effect in Europe and throughout Asia|
"We began as a trading firm in 1992. A year later we became the exclusive distributor in Hong Kong of two Japanese brand name products - the Toraysee OA Cleaning Cloth and E-Filter," recalls sales and marketing director Donald Li.
Thanks to the reputation and good quality of the two products, The New Sharp Image had no problem in marketing these in the local market. "When the Japanese company introduced a new packaging, which clearly identified the name and origin of the brand holder, many trade enquiries were diverted to the Japanese firm despite our marketing efforts in Hong Kong," Li recalls.
Eventually, the company decided to market its own products, including some audio product cleaners it was marketing under a new brand name, NSIX, in 1988. The name NSIX was chosen because of its "Japanese feel", Li explains.
"By purchasing the materials from other suppliers and repackaging them under our NSIX label in our own factory, we managed to improve our profit margin tremendously," he says.
Another turning point came in 2000, when The New Sharp Image successfully acquired the exclusive Greater China region distribution rights for the products of another Japanese firm, Arvel Corp. The products included LCD protective filters, notebook filters and PDA screen protectors.
"At that time, screen protectors were used mostly in LCD monitors and many overlooked its prospective applications in home PCs and other smaller digital products such as PDAs, digital cameras and portable phones that were fast gaining popularity. Today, the screen protector has become the major product category under the NSIX brand name," says Li.
He believes that the company was also quite lucky in not facing too many obstacles when launching the NSIX brand to existing buyers. "There already existed a trust between us and our clients as we've been selling products made of the same material for quite some time."
Nevertheless, a good deal of the success can be attributed to the careful planning that has gone into the packaging and design of the NSIX brand products. "We chose a nice design with a transparent plastic package so that consumers can see through and know exactly the size and quality of the screen protectors," Li observes.
To differentiate the NSIX brand from its rivals, the company took great care in packaging its screen protectors with a non-woven cloth for cleaning the LCD monitors, he observes.
"There is also a long-term commitment after starting a brand name, both in terms of time and resources," Li adds.
He admits that starting an original brand has definite advantages. "The launching of NSIX has given us a clear positioning and direction in the market, enabling us to venture into the export market."
In addition to distributing the NSIX products in Hong Kong, The New Sharp Image is also selling its products elsewhere in the region, mostly Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as in Europe.
Looking back, Li remembers how the company was initially quite low-key in promoting the NSIX brand.
"We relied on advertisements in trade magazines and word-of-mouth publicity at the beginning. Later, we started marketing NSIX on major portals and websites that trial new products," Li notes.
With the rising demand for LCD monitors, mobile phones and digital cameras, sales of the company's screen protectors have also jumped 500% this year, compared with 2003.
The company is now eyeing the Middle East and Chinese mainland markets. The response to a recent launch of the NSIX brand at a trade event in Shanghai has also been very encouraging.
"We are optimistic about selling NSIX- branded products on the mainland because consumers have more confidence in an established brand," Li says, adding that the company is soon set to gain a sharper image in more markets.
WRITTEN BY WINNIE HUI
The New Sharp Image