1 July 2002
Slim Sounds Sell Best(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 04,2002)
Vol 4, 2002
Slim Sounds Sell Best
China Town Electronic Ltd affixes the Congli brand on its portable VCD/CD/MP3 player featuring 350-line clarity (right) and on its digital auto-reverse stereo cassette player.
THE worldwide slimming craze has hit wearable electronics as consumers demand music on the move from audio products as thin as possible and with ultra-low prices to match.
Following overseas trends, Hong Kong manufacturers such as China Town Electronic Ltd constantly add new options to slim-line, feature-packed audio equipment.
"We manufacture about 60 different audio products, such as radios and cassette-recorders, which account for 70% of our business, plus 10 styles of portable, skip-free CD, VCD and CD/MP3 players making up the remainder," says marketing executive Ana Hui.
"We do OEM work and our design team produces mid-range products, including our own Congli brand."
China Town is proud of its G-system, anti-shock CD player available with two interchangeable front panels in metallic light blue and pink. It sells well in traditional European markets. A minimum order of 2,000 units for shipment within three weeks costs from US$22 per unit FOB Hong Kong.
"We have produced CD and VCD players for just one year, but plan to introduce mini combo hi-fi systems with CD, VCD and MP3 options."
Equally ambitious is Grant Lloyd Audio Ltd. Since the company began in 1985, director Fanny Cheng has noticed several key design changes.
"We have produced more than 200 models. Now the sporty style is popular. Colours like matt grey and black are important. For radios, transparent colours are fashionable," Cheng says.
Twelve designers create the Sports-brand radio and audio items that account for 50% of Grant Lloyd's business. The other half is OEM work.
"Our most popular items are CD players and torch radios. We are looking at moving into MD and MP3 players," Cheng says.
About 80% of the company's business involves quality premiums. Its stylish, innovative lines feature a water-resistant alarm-watch with FM-scan radio and a mini AM/FM radio with torch. Unit prices for a minimum order of 3,000 shipped within a month are US$2.15 for the mini radio with torch, US$3.30 for the alarm-watch with FM-scan radio and up to US$24 for CD players. All prices are FOB Hong Kong.
At Ruiyuan Holdings Ltd, price and design are deemed crucial. "There is a continuing trend to slim, sophisticated-looking products. Metallic colours, especially light blue, are popular," says marketing manager Sally Cheng.
Ruiyuan offers a 20-product range developed by its six designers. "We produce portable CD players, cassette-recorders, alarm radios, cassette players and CD/MP3 players. The cassette player and radio are our biggest sellers, followed by the alarm radio, although the CD player is also very popular," Cheng says.
The company recently introduced a chic, small but durable, aluminium-faced portable radio available in 3,000-unit minimum orders shipped within 30 days.
Since 1988, Ten Forward Ltd has met constant design challenges, thanks to three designers creating the designs that account for 70% of the 100,000-150,000 units produced each month.
"We make stylish solar and dynamo-powered AM/FM radios with flashlights. One new product will be able to generate power for mobile phones," says general manager and director Kenneth Lee.
"We also manufacture higher tech audio items, including CD, VCD and MP3 players that sell in the highly competitive mid-market sector. MP3 is becoming popular, and many of our products offer this along with other options for added value. But I see a limited 1-2 year future for MP3. The industry is moving to DVDs," he adds.
Attractive prices, such as US$37 FOB Hong Kong per set for a minimum one TEU order of personal CD players with MP3 and VCD options, have helped boost sales worldwide.
Lee notices several emerging trends. "Designs are slimmer, and adding features creates value in a competitive market. Teenagers and the Japan market want brighter colours, while metallic grey and champagne suit European tastes."
Observing trends has also paid dividends for Asiatech 52 Mfg Ltd, which has produced wearable audio since 1991. "Some 90% of our business is OEM while our own Asiatech brand accounts for 10%," says general manager Isaac Kamhin.
The company manufactures everything from small pocket radios to disc players featuring MP3. The most popular items are small radios and radio-cassette players, pocket AM/FM radios for jogging and AM/FM headphone radios. Unit prices range from US$1-59 FOB Hong Kong based upon minimum orders of 3,000 units shipped within 45 days.
Europe and the US favour slim, vertical products, but the Middle East, South America and Southeast Asia are more conservative. "Charcoal grey is always in demand and translucent colours are popular, as are pastels for premiums," Kamhin says.
The company is moving increasingly into premiums, now 60% of its business.
Tough competition in wearable electronics obviously inspires creative, innovative solutions beneficial to both Hong Kong manufacturers and their customers.
WRITTEN BY SANDRA JENNER
Asiatech 52 Mfg Ltd
Suite 1206, Tower II, Silvercord
30 Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon, Hong Kong
China Town Electronic Ltd
Rm 1205, Block A
Ming Po Ind Centre
18 Ka Yip St, Chai Wan
Grant Lloyd Audio Ltd
9/F, Java Commercial Bldg
128 Java Rd
North Point, Hong Kong
Ruiyan Holdings Ltd
Tung Che Commercial Centre
246 Des Voeux Rd West
Ten Forward Ltd
11/F, Blk B
Wo Kee Hong Bldg
585-609 Castle Peak Rd
New Territories, Hong Kong
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