1 July 2002
GIFT APPEAL(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 03,2002)
Vol 3, 2002
One For All
Milflores Investment Co Ltd
|Milflores Investment Co Ltd can source a wide variety of premium items, such as small gifts given away by magazine publishers.|
A CHANGE in the way corporations spend advertising and marketing budgets is boosting the premiums industry, according to Luis Carrasco, the sales director of Milflores Investment Co Ltd, a Hong Kong-based beneficiary from this trend.
"Gifts are becoming more popular, especially among tobacco companies," says Carrasco. "They must change strategy because they cannot advertise on television [in many countries], so they go for gifts," he says. "They have big budgets to spend."
Milflores began during 1971 as a one-man company in Taiwan, but shifted its focus to Hong Kong in 1994. It maintains a branch office in Taiwan, along with branches in Shanghai and Ningbo on the Chinese mainland, employing 18 people in these locations.
Early on, the company sourced a wide range of items, including textiles, but more recently has specialized in gifts and premiums for export to Europe, the Middle East, the US and South America. Annual growth during the past six years has averaged 15%.
Many items are destined for magazine publishing companies seeking small gifts to include in publications. Clocks are frequently pursued by big brands because timepiece faces offer plenty of space for logos.
"Our customers know we can offer a wide range of items and can look for anything. For example, we were recently asked for cheese knives - we haven't done this before, but we went to a factory from which we have bought pocket knives in the past."
Approximately 75% of the products are destined for Europe, especially the UK and the fastest-growing markets of France, Spain and Portugal, with the rest going to the Middle East, South America and the US.
Most customers are importers with warehousing facilities, although some source directly for large international brands and licence holders. "We have worked with some customers for 10 years or more since we were in Taiwan," says Carrasco.
Price is an important factor. Most customers want large quantities, and factories on the Chinese mainland do offer competitive rates. For the best deals, Milflores sources from producers in the North and West, rather than the South. There the company can offer maximum value-added because many factories have no one speaking English. The customers need a language-proficient partner.
While 90% of Milflores' items are sourced on the mainland, 10% (mainly high-quality ball pens) come from Taiwan.
The marketing strategy for Milflores includes sending CD-ROM catalogues to customers and potential clients. "We attend gifts, premiums and stationery fairs, not as exhibitors but as buyers to check on new factories, particularly at fairs in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Dongguan on the Chinese mainland," says Carrasco.
The gifts and premiums market is increasingly competitive, and Carrasco expects this trend to continue. He is confident the mainland's World Trade Organization accession will help that market grow.
Milflores Investment Co Ltd
11/F, Perfect Comm Bldg,
20 Austin Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
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