6 July 2004
Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair 2004(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 07,2004)
A Triumphant Return
Much to the delight of buyers and industry players alike, the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair was back in its April slot this year with a glittering showcase of products.
Some 3,446 exhibitors displayed a vast array of goods when Asia's largest and the world's third largest fair of its kind opened its doors from April 28-May 1. Not surprisingly, 56,470 buyers trooped in from all corners of the globe to take advantage of this unparalleled sourcing opportunity.
Guest of honour, Hong Kong financial secretary Henry Tang, underlined the current buoyant economic mood at the opening ceremony. "The Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair reflects the prevailing strong economic prospects," he said.
"The industry as a whole will benefit from Hong Kong's Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement with the Chinese mainland, which will continue to create the right synergy with the Pearl River Delta region by boosting high value-added and original design manufacturing."
Fair organising committee chairman Jeffrey Lam added the fair was not merely about quantity, but also epitomised quality as it continued to scale new heights. "The value in this fair comes in its commitment to providing the best forum for business in Asia," he maintained.
The most international forum of its kind in the region, the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair attracted exhibitors from 33 countries and regions with 14 group pavilions from Australia, the Chinese mainland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the UK.
To top it all, there was an elite gathering of exhibitors at the elegant Hall of Fine Designs, where a record number of 43 participants from Hong Kong, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland showcased diverse products of unrivalled creativity and quality.
Several exhibitors succinctly described the irresistible lure of the fair. Brigitte Fahrngruber, project manager with Germany's Durma Messe Stuttgart Int'l, felt "the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair is a great place for networking and to keep track of market trends".
Fellow exhibitor Nadia Salem from the consumer goods division of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade concurred, noting, "Hong Kong is definitely the stepping stone for Italian companies to make inroads into the Asian market. We hope to come in a bigger group next time to be more prominent."
Eric Hedberg, senior buyer for The Paradises Shops chain that has about 350 airport shops in North America, enthused that "this is far and away the biggest fair I have been to, with a much bigger variety of merchandise."
The verdict was unanimous: the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair 2004 offered the widest spectrum of irresistible gifts, premiums and products available from all over the world and remains an essential stop for buyers wishing to maximise their opportunities in markets worldwide.
WRITTEN BY ARAVIND VIDYADHARAN
The Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair 2004 rode the crest of a successful performance by the local industry the previous year. The sector notched record sales last year on the back of a buying splurge in most major markets, with total gift and premium exports rising to more than US$19bn.
The US market, which is Hong Kong's largest, remained stable with more than US$7bn. Sales to the EU, meanwhile, hit US$5.02bn against US$4.6bn the previous year, while those to the ASEAN region touched US$0.59bn compared to US$0.56bn in the preceding year.
These figures should continue to rise during the current year, with more than 70% of fair attendees predicting better prospects in their markets in 2004/05.
Appropriately enough, several of the seminars held during the fair this year were focused on fine-tuning the industry's efforts to increase its appeal to its main markets.
For example, TradeCard director of business development Wilson Chan noted that buyers in the US and the EU are always looking for ways to reduce costs and streamline procedures, so the local industry must look for better and innovative ways to help them achieve their aims.
He stressed the need to introduce "Web-enabled Technology in your Supply Chain" as overseas buyers expect their suppliers to utilise available technology to help them achieve this aim.
"Implementation of automated financial supply chain technology could keep smaller companies competitive and save millions for global enterprises," he said. "A Web-enabled financial supply chain gives transparency, eliminates errors and saves costs."
Chan noted that sourcing and production tended to move to the next low-cost location if cost savings were not satisfactory. "Hong Kong companies may have a head start through CEPA but they need to develop ways to enhance these services to stay ahead," he added. "They must manage supply chains that are flexible enough to react fast."
Meanwhile, representatives of the International Federation of Promotional Products Associations from Canada, the US, Europe and Australia discussed the prevailing characteristics of their markets.
They reiterated the need to "add value to core products to develop end-user loyalty, and provide an understanding of end-buyers' needs", and stressed that this resulted in higher perceived value by both end-buyers and end-users.
Buyers Flock To The Fair
More than 2,000 exhibitors from 33 countries and regions greeted record numbers of buyers at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2004, which ran from April 21-24 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The largest fair of its kind in Asia boasted group pavilions from Australia, the Chinese mainland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.
Other attractions included 18 exhibitors in the Hall of Elegance, an exclusive arena dedicated to branded goods and designer collections which emphasised creativity and top-notch design.
Chairman of the Hong Kong Legislative Council panel on commerce and industry Kenneth Ting noted that Hong Kong household products have evolved over the years from price-competitive products to up-market merchandise.
"This has been a result of significant quality enhancements and the addition of a range of value-added elements, including innovative designs, attractive packaging, reliable delivery, professional marketing, stringent logistics control, and excellent customer service," he said.
Buyers such as purchase manager Salah Bakashwein of Bakhashwein in Saudi Arabia obviously agreed. "We deal in mid-price goods and come to this fair every year," he noted. "The quality and packaging of products on show here is improving, which is very important to us."
Habib Doghri, consultant to the CHD Cabinet of Tunisia, was equally enthusiastic. "Tunisian import/export companies are keen to see a wide range of products, including electronic items for the home, houseware and gifts," he explained.
"They have tended to work through intermediary companies, but now want to deal directly with the mainland and build up relationships with manufacturers."
Crown British Trading CEO Karim Sacoor agreed with the upbeat assessments of the Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2004. "We're always interested in new suppliers and this is the best facilitated show I've visited," he explained.
Rodrigo Gamero of Ace Hardware Corp concurred. "We have a range of stores in the US and franchised stores in 72 countries," he said. "This fair is great as every year there's something new."
Mulder & Co of Canada president Mary Ann Mulder found the houseware fair the ideal location to source garden gifts and barware for about 160 stores. "This is the only fair we come to and it is very well run," she said.
The Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2004 was also an important information-exchange platform that included a series of seminars covering topical market and business issues.
Survey Says 2004 Even Better
Hong Kong's dynamic houseware industry maintained strong growth in 2003 as exports grew a respectable 6% over 2002 to a total value of nearly US$20bn.
The industry's continuing strength was further confirmed when about 70% of the buyers and exhibitors at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2004 and Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair 2004 said they anticipated business in 2004 would be better than 2003.
The TDC survey findings included:
Some 71% of the respondents interviewed foresaw better market prospects in 2004 than 2003; with 48% of exhibitors and 46% of buyers anticipating Western Europe and the US will have the highest growth in 2004. The estimated average growth rate was 18%.
Impact of CEPA
More than one-third of those aware of CEPA (the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong and the mainland) had increased their interest in the mainland market because of the agreement. Main strategies included development of a brand name and selling in the mainland market; cooperation with Hong Kong companies or sub-contracting manufacturing to Hong Kong companies to produce made-in-Hong Kong products.
Houseware product trends
Home decorations, tableware/kitchenware and furniture were perceived as categories with the highest growth potential in the mainland market for 2004, with value-for-money the leading criteria, followed by fashionable design and functionality.
The following product trends were discerned:
- Cookware: metallic and pastel colours; non-stick, green material and anti-bacterial
- Tableware: metallic and pastel; green material, anti-bacterial and thermal insulation
- Home decorations: white and pastel colours; ceramic/porcelain, glass and crystal
- Furniture: white and pastel colours; wood, teak, PVC faux-rattan
Advertising, gift and premium product trends
Consumer electronics was perceived as the category with the highest growth potential in the mainland market, followed by fashion jewellery and accessories and stationery.
Retailers (including department stores/ chain stores, hypermarkets and mail order companies) were found to use advertising gifts and premiums most frequently, followed by fast-moving consumer goods, banking and finance, fast food chains and entertainment.
On average, advertising gifts and premiums accounted for 16% of total promotion spending. Among respondents who trade advertising gifts and premiums, 59% of exhibitors and 63% of buyers believed prospects for branded advertising gifts and premiums would be better in 2004 than 2003.
Across different regions, most consumers of houseware products are female. The ages of consumers mostly fall into the 30-44 year range.
Most consumers purchase houseware products once a month or once every 2-3 months.
Comparing 2004 with 2003, buyers placed more orders with larger quantities and higher unit prices. The most popular months to place orders are April, May, June and July.