6 July 2004
Hong Kong Gifts, Premiums and Stationery
Sticking With Success
Win Tai Industrial Ltd
|Win Tai Industrial Ltd began as a label manufacturer and has expanded its product lines to stickers using special effects, temporary tattoos, rub-on transfers, heat-transfer labels and crystal stickers|
Flexibility is the key strategy for Win Tai Industrial Ltd, a Hong Kong-based firm whose stickers and other printed paper products are sought-after by some of the world's biggest mass-market brands. Whether it is fulfilling orders from 5,000 pieces to tens of millions, or delivering products in record time, Win Tai is happy to oblige, according to export manager Helen Yu.
The company established a 25-worker factory in Hong Kong in 1975. It shifted manufacturing to the Chinese mainland in 1990, and three years ago opened a state-of-the-art, 10,000-square-metre plant, employing 350 workers.
Win Tai began by producing labels, and over the years has developed product lines such as special-effects stickers, temporary tattoos, rub-on transfers, heat-transfer labels and crystal jewellery stickers.
"This market is very competitive and we need to keep refreshing our products," Yu says. The company produces its own designs and helps clients develop their ideas.
"Through our Canadian office we also use freelance designers, which is a good way to keep up with trends," she adds. This is especially important since the main target audience is teenagers.
"We have to keep our eyes peeled to spot trends. For example, we just produced 20 million stickers to coincide with the release of the Spider-Man 2 movie."
Since 1995, Win Tai has been developing the promotions segment to such an extent that it now represents 50% of business. "People want more value when they buy goods," explains Yu. "They used to like the tiniest free gift with a product, but now they want something more sophisticated. There is very big potential here."
Win Tai's markets are global, and it has been particularly successful in forging relationships with large food and beverage corporations in the US and Europe, including Kellogg's and McDonald's.
The company is keen to develop the South American market further and recently enjoyed success with Kellogg's in Mexico.
"Before, manufacturers from Taiwan were strong in South America because of price," says Yu. "However, we were lucky enough to meet with Kellogg's in Mexico last year, when the company sought promotional items linked to a movie. They wanted 10 million pieces of a better quality, which we were able to supply."
The order was very successful, claims Yu, and has given Win Tai a foot in the door to an important market.
In another recent deal, a client in Chile put in a trial order of 10 million sets of temporary tattoos. "We rearranged shifts to speed production and managed to fulfil the order in 20 days," Yu says, noting that flexibility and organisation are very important qualities.
All production is done in-house, including film outputting, screen printing, printing and packaging. Items are produced to stringent US and EU safety standards.
"Speedy delivery is another reason for our success," Yu explains. "Most companies deliver in 40 days, but we deliver 2-3 million pieces in 20-25 days."
The hot item at the moment, according to Yu, is rub-on transfers. "These can be put on a variety of surfaces including metal, glass, wood and ceramic. These are easy to apply and peel off easily, too, yet the quality is very good - it is of film printing quality."
She observes that these products are popular for decorating items in homes: "Since 9/11, people are more focused on family and home life."
Temporary tattoos also continue to be strong. "For example, we have a good relationship with a candy factory and it carries our products with its candies."
Yu says it is important to make products that are distinctive. "We have developed stickers that are scented, glow-in-the-dark, glittery or UV sensitive, for example. In future, we will continue to develop new visual ideas with an educational element so kids can learn something from them."
WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS
Win Tai Industrial Ltd
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