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Houseware Vol 2, 2010: Hong Kong Focus: Hong Kong Awards for Industries

Cutting Edge
 

INNOVATION AND ATTENTION TO CUSTOMER NEEDS HAVE PUT HONG KONG AT THE FOREFRONT OF WORLD MARKETS REGARDLESS OF THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE

Cutting Edge
Pro-Balance Knives
Golden Sun Home Products Ltd

The ability to combine original designs and superb workmanship to meet changing market demand gives Hong Kong an invaluable edge over its competitors.

"Design is one of Hong Kong's biggest strengths in manufacturing," claims General Manager Daniel Kwok of Golden Sun Home Products Ltd, whose multiple-award-winning Pro-Balance Knives reflect local manufacturers' outstanding creativity.

The stainless steel knives feature hollow handles that are fitted with adjustable weights to offer extra convenience and flexibility and help prevent tiredness.

They have won the Consumer Product Design Grand Award of the Hong Kong Awards for Industries (HKAI) 2009 and the Red Dot Design Award 2008, among other local and international awards.

The innovative products attracted ample attention at the Ambiente fair in Frankfurt in February, with order books filled to August, according to Mr Kwok.

"Hong Kong entrepreneurs have accumulated valuable knowledge of overseas markets through visits to overseas trade fairs for the past few decades, which has given us a huge advantage in product design," he explains. "As a result, Hong Kong designers are very sophisticated and well aware of international demands."

He adds that local manufacturers have an excellent grasp of consumer needs and keep a close watch on market responses, which helped Golden Sun in designing the knives.

Cutting Edge
i.comfort Mini Massager
Oregon Scientific Global Distribution Ltd

"We depend a lot on customer feedback — it's the reaction of the end-user that guides us," says Mr Kwok, claiming that the company's products are in constant demand in the US, Europe, Japan, Korea and the Chinese mainland. To supply mainland demand, Golden Sun runs its own retail outlets in major Chinese cities.

"For example, we introduced a salad spinner a few years ago. There was a run on the products on the mainland because Chinese housewives found they made it much easier to rinse rice," Mr Kwok recalls. "It was both a pleasant surprise and a lesson for us."

Hong Kong suppliers also put a premium on product quality, he notes. "Our company enjoys such rapport with overseas buyers that the main ones send agents to our factories on the Chinese mainland to ensure that high QC standards are maintained and give on-the-spot advice and guidance if an unexpected problem arises. As a result the replacement rate for defective items is just 1% or so."

Like most other Hong Kong manufacturers, Golden Sun carries out production on the mainland, where costs are lower.

With 70% of products OEM and 30% ODM at present, the company recently launched its own brand for market expansion — especially in Europe.

‘We will continue to aim at the mediumto- high end of the market,' says Mr Kwok. "We do not want to restrict ourselves to very expensive products, while we are not interested in cheap items either."

Super scents

Innovation and originality also represent the smell of success for Oregon Scientific Global Distribution Ltd, whose i.relax Aroma Diffuser and i.comfort Mini Massager won an award and certificate of merit respectively in the Consumer Product Design category of the HKAI 2009.

"Hong Kong companies must pay attention to changes in consumer tastes and draw heavily on the expertise of R&D professionals to compete internationally in the current economic climate," remarks Head of Global Marketing Vanessa Siu. "Today's customers are far more demanding — they want new designs, innovation, brand image and quality," she observes.

"The only way for Hong Kong to keep up in this tough market is to closely follow new trends," Ms Siu adds. "Priorities keep changing, and now consumers are looking for health and wellness products like the i.relax Aroma Diffuser to upgrade their lifestyles."

The award-winning i.relax Aroma Diffuser projects and sustains a relaxed, peaceful calm thanks to its beguiling aroma accompanied by natural sounds and soothing coloured light displays, and is also an alarm clock that gently wakes sleepers to captivating vapours and sounds.

The i.relax Aroma Diffuser has proved a hot seller in Hong Kong and Europe — especially the UK and Italy — since its launch last November.

Cutting Edge
i.relax Aroma Diffuser
Oregon Scientific Global Distribution Ltd

The hand-held i.comfort Mini Massager, meanwhile, has a soft yet effective therapeutic roller head for relieving general neck pains, and a pinpoint head for treating specific pains in an elbow or ankle.

"These products reflect our constant efforts in product design and innovation," notes Ms Siu. "We employ design and R&D specialists who show originality, all very much in sync with our Smart Living slogan."

She also attributes the company's achievements to the staff's strong team spirit, commitment to quality and ongoing training that constantly upgrades their ability and knowledge.

Oregon Scientific's 100-plus items come under five main categories: Time & Weather; Wellness; Sport & Outdoor; Telecommunications; and Electronic Learning.

These include lifestyle electronic products, action cameras, projection clocks, kids' electronic learning toys and laptops, health-enhancing wellness and sports-related items such as heart-rate monitors and pedometers.

While the global economic downturn is impacting key markets like the US and Europe, Oregon Scientific is diversifying its distribution further to emerging markets such as the Chinese mainland — where it already has retail outlets in Beijing and Shanghai — Russia, India and Brazil.

"Doing business in China is gradually getting easier but the others are taking time to catch up," says Ms Siu. "Looking forward, we will continue to design quality products for all markets to reinforce customers' confidence and trust in us."

With a focus on creativity, quality and market trends, these two companies clearly epitomise the strengths of Hong Kong manufacturers.

 

Text by Geoffrey Somers