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Happy Memories(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 03,2008)

Gifts & Premiums

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Debreu Ltd offers an interesting range of gifts and premiums, including MP3 players and aromatic USB memory devices

Sometimes, misfortune in one area can turn into opportunity elsewhere. This was the case with Debreu Ltd, when it gained a window of opportunity in the form of a precious exhibition booth at one of Hong Kong's leading trade fairs.

"We were new on the scene in 2003, and ready to launch ourselves," recalls Managing Director David Cheung. "However, there was a three-year waiting list for a booth at the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair. Then a number of overseas exhibitors dropped out as a result of the SARS epidemic, and we were squeezed in."

The firm's initial lines included clock radios, calculators and simple bookmarks, all designed with a company's logo or advertising message in mind. "Actually, our very first products were the bookmarks," Mr Cheung says.

"Although seemingly basic in nature, and requiring very little by way of development costs, our bookmarks were made from stainless steel and looked very attractive. We employed mass-production techniques, while maintaining the quality, and soon found a niche in the market. We used the revenues to develop the other lines."

One of those lines was an MP3 player. "We launched our MP3 player line in 2006, and it immediately became very popular," says Mr Cheung. "By the end of 2006, always looking for novelty, we had built on our experience here to bring out a new product in the form of an aromatic USB drive."

This unusual-sounding item comprises a USB-driven flash memory stick delivered with a scent that complements the appearance of the drive. A unit in the form of a Christmas tree, for example, emits the smell of pine. Another, shaped like a rose, gives off the smells of roses, while one that looks like an orange also smells of orange.

"These USB drives are inexpensive to produce and make perfect give-away items for many different businesses as we could produce them for firms in the fruit juice business, the flowers industry or for seasonal traders," says Mr Cheung. "They are given away as promotional items in huge quantities."

The scent is diffused once the USB drive is plugged into a USB port. "The unit, which is powered from the port itself, heats up ever so slightly. If a drop of scent, which is supplied, is applied to the plate, it quickly diffuses into the room," he adds.

Sales benefit, of course, from the dual-purpose aspect. "On one hand, we have a fragrance diffuser and, on the other, a regular USB drive," explains Mr Cheung. "We also introduced a variety of models, some in plastic and some higher-grade versions with metal housings."

The metal versions cost more, and Mr Cheung says that they tend to be marketed as gift items, and may be compared with small radios or LED lamps that were once common gifts.

While the original intention was to service the gifts and premiums market, some customers have asked for models that can sell at the retail level. "We have some customers who believe these USB drives could be sold as impulse purchase buys when placed near the cash register in a store," says Mr Cheung.

"In general, our USB drives are of better quality and appearance than some cheap versions offered by firms on the Chinese mainland," he adds. "The body, which is made from zinc-alloy that can be easily moulded, has a generous area for the imprint of logos, for which we employ four-colour printing. Then, a layer of epoxy covers the logo area and gives it a ceramic look."

Debreu manufactures on the mainland, while design and marketing is carried out in Hong Kong. "Generally, all designs are done in-house," says Mr Cheung. "However, we also outsource when an OEM requests special design services."

Major markets for Debreu are in Europe, while the company is also shipping to Japan. "The US market is next on our list for greater attention," says Mr Cheung. "We do not have any real competition as far as we know," he adds. "This is an original product and one that is internationally patented. We have invested a lot of resources and money on patents and registering the trade marks to protect the design. While it is almost impossible to stop others copying you, we give ourselves an edge by patenting our lines in our major markets."

It sounds as if Debreu Ltd is on course for more success.

TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON

FAST FACTS

Debreu Ltd
Flat C, 20/F
Gold King Bldg
35-41 Tai Lin Pai Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2304-7280
Fax: 852-3156-1739
Email:
sales@debreu.com
Web: www.debreu.com
www.aromausb.com
www.scent-drive.com
Year Established: 2003
Major Product Categories: gifts and premiums
Brands & Certificates: AromaUSB, Scent Drive
Minimum Order: 3,000-10,000 pieces
Monthly Production: 100,000 pieces
Delivery Time: 30 days
Factory Size & Location: 20,000 square feet; Shenzhen
Workforce: 300