11 Jan 2006
Coasters(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 01,2006)
Given Hong Kong's standing as a leading gifts and premiums manufacturing centre, it's not surprising that local companies keep coming up with a myriad of coaster designs that help companies touch base with their customers.
Their creative efforts have been fuelled by the latest giftware industry report produced by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), which further underlines coasters' perennial appeal.
The TDC industry overview notes that functional corporate giveaways and promotional items like coasters continue to find favour with overseas companies keen to boost sales.
In addition, there has been a "refocusing" on family values that has strengthened sales of home products such as coasters as shoppers now tend to spend more time at home with families and friends.
Keeping ahead of these and other industry trends is 18-year-old Kim Fai Metal Plastic Mfy, which produces a wide spectrum of coasters using stainless steel, iron plate and plastics.
"Our latest collection consists of two sets of stainless steel coasters, one of which is a round-shaped product stamped with a butterfly motif," says administrator Apple Yung. "The materials used are imported from Japan and are non-toxic and therefore safe for contact with food."
The bar accessories, tableware, stainless steel items and gifts and premiums manufacturer's 200-worker, 30,000-square-foot factory in Dongguan Province on the Chinese mainland turns out 100,000 coaster sets a month.
Yung says Kim Fai's products, which are designed, moulded, metal stamped and die-cast in-house, find ready buyers in Europe, the US and Japan.
"We can adjust our designs to incorporate customers' comments - for example, we can produce both polished and brushed surfaces to achieve the desired effect," she notes, adding that Kim Fai also welcomes OEM orders. "The ratio is about 50% each."
FOB Hong Kong unit prices vary for coasters of different materials, but Kim Fai accepts minimum orders of 540 sets containing six pieces each for delivery 45 days after order confirmation.
Another company that has also gained an edge over the competition is 1996-established KNT 3-D Lenticular Mfr Ltd, which was the Champion in the Greeting Cards and Invitation Cards section of the 14th Hong Kong Print Awards in 2002.
"We apply eye-catching moving images on all our gifts, premiums and stationery items," manager Frankie Choi says, adding that coasters account for "20%-30%" of KNT's output.
The company uses lenticular printing technology that allows the vivid illusion of movement, morphing and three-dimensional images to be portrayed onto a two-dimensional printing surface.
Choi explains that there are basically two types of moving images that appear on the company's coasters. "Some coasters have two or more images when they are seen from different directions, which is why some of them can achieve special effects like animation, zooming or morphing," he explains. "Others are three-dimensional and also feature view-changing images."
KNT uses PVC or PET in its coasters, which are produced at a 13,000-square-metre factory in Dongguan on the mainland that employs 50-100 workers.
Minimum orders of 10,000 pieces can accommodate several designs, and smaller orders may also be entertained, while delivery is "about three weeks" after order confirmation.
KNT's coasters are used as either promotional items or novelties and are exported worldwide, particularly Europe, the US and Japan. "We market the coasters under the KNT 3D Lenticular brand, which we believe projects an image of quality assurance, good customer service and on-time delivery," Choi enthuses.
Specialist paper product manufacturer Baccarat Playing Cards Industries, meanwhile, prefers to cater to different demands by offering a wide array of coasters made from different raw materials including glass, iron plate and cork.
Coasters constitute 10% of all the paper products that Baccarat produces, proprietor Simon Kong explains. "Our coasters are made from materials including hard paper, iron plate with cork, print paper laminate on cork and absorbent paper all the way to PVC rubber and glass," he advises. "All these materials are sourced on the mainland."
Monthly production of 350,000-500,000 coasters takes place at two factories in Guangdong Province on the mainland, which have a combined size of 5,000 square metres and employ 200 workers.
Minimum orders of 20,000 paper, 30,000 iron plate and 3,000 PVC coasters are exported to the US and Europe at FOB Hong Kong unit prices that range from US$0.68-1.10 for paper and iron-plate versions.
Prices for other materials are "negotiable", while delivery of all orders is promised 15-30 days after order confirmation. "The products most sought by buyers are print paper or iron plate with cork," he says, adding that 95% of Baccarat's output is OEM orders, many of which are licence-holding clients. "The remaining 5% is ODM items."
Touching base has never been easier, cheaper or more colourful than with the huge variety of coasters developed by Hong Kong manufacturers determined to keep buyers supplied with tasty orders.
WRITTEN BY CECILIA NG
Baccarat Playing Cards Industries
KNT 3-D Lenticular Mfr Ltd