29 Oct 2008
Great Giveaways(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 04,2008)
Upmarket promotional items tend to be more successful than many mass-produced, cheaper giveaways, which is good news for Hong Kong provider Intermed Asia Ltd.
The company was established in Taiwan in 1988, and became adept at supplying a variety of metal pins and badges for the premiums and promotions market.
"In 1992, we extended operations to Hong Kong to specialise in plastic items and games," says Managing Director Olivier Andre. "Very soon, we were winning the market with our Magic Cube series that became one of our core lines."
Intermed Asia is not a manufacturer, but does hold the rights to several key items in addition to several patents. "However, whereas we used to source items made and designed by others, in time the emphasis shifted to developing in-house ideas," he says.
"Obviously, to maintain our leading position and quality we have special relationships with trusted manufacturers," says Mr Andre. "We provide all the tooling and subcontract the production, but we own the final product."
According to Mr Andre, Intermed Asia creates great giveaways that have playful characteristics and are fun to use. "You can become seriously addicted to having them near, to play with, or to collect," he smiles.
"Our approach is to insist on features that create emotional links to the product," he continues. "We believe that in this business, the item promotes a sense of well-being and fun, especially if it is a corporate gift. We try to engage with the brand name as much as possible to make the finished item more personal and more suitable as a gift."
This approach saw great success with the firm's Magic Cube product, later re-branded as a Magic Concepts series. "Our work drew interest from patent holders of similar lines," states Mr Andre. "One outstanding example was the owner of the Rubik's Cube, which appointed us as a worldwide licensee to maximise the potential of that popular invention."
A Rubik clock product came out in 2007, while for this year the firm has a Rubik USB memory stick. "You can turn the puzzle around and it flips between date, time and temperature," says Mr Andre. "The USB memory stick is easily the most prolific electronics give-away item ever."
The company's range of giveaways also includes liquid-filled items. "We have an executive toy that, when turned upside down, fills like a welcome pint of beer with heavy froth," Mr Andre says. "There are also pop-up items and picture balls, all in custom shapes."
Clients come from every industry, and from about every well-known corporate body. Examples include Porsche, Rolls Royce, HSBC, 3M, Oracle, Nokia, Sony, IKEA and Diesel. "Because we produce quality goods, these famous brands have total confidence in our work," Mr Andre states.
"That said, we have predetermined distribution networks and never sell direct to the corporate end-user," he emphasises. "We work only with importers or, for some important lines, with exclusive agents that are able to promote and explain the distinctive value of our products."
The company's products sell very well in the US, followed by Europe and Japan. All goods are RoHS-compliant, and Intermed Asia has a strong QC department that studies and implements the latest regulations. "We also use a lot of recycled materials, such as plastic," states Mr Andre.
In 2004, the company became part of the Polyconcept Group, which is one of the biggest sellers of promotional goods worldwide. Quality products, flexibility in design and fast delivery are company strengths.
Minimum quantities of around 500 pieces are acceptable. "Many items do not lend themselves to volume production and small runs are acceptable," says Mr Andre. "The usual order runs from 500-1,000 or 10,000-30,000 pieces."
Intermed Asia Ltd has clearly forged for itself an attractive business niche.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON