26 June 2006
Novelty Stationery(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 03,2006)
|The Velvet collection of green felt stationery from Le chino Ltd, including memo pad, ruler and pen with holder, will brighten any desktop|
Fun desktop tools add humour to the most mundane office or school task, so it's not surprising that new ideas and zappy designs drive today's flourishing novelty stationery market.
Materials not normally associated with stationery products - such as strong fabrics like felt - are being used alongside metal, plastic and polyresin as Hong Kong manufacturers seek new, unusual designs and added features for a market sector that thrives on originality.
A prime example is desktop accessories company Le chino Ltd, which produces 1.2 million items per month at its 300,000-square-foot, 1,000-worker factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
With 70 designers and 300 new products launched each year, the ISO 9001-certified firm has already released more than 3,000 items since opening in 2003. "We offer some 2,000 stationery designs that mix metal and other materials together to create original styles," says director Carol Lee.
For example, the Velvet collection launched last October combines metal and felt in distinctive products such as paper-clip holders, memo pads, name card stands, pens, pen holders, rulers, bookmarks and mouse pads.
"Velvet is available in pink, orange, green and blue, with orange proving the most popular so far," Lee says, noting that the company's concepts and themes use eye-catching colours. "The collection is part of a general market trend to blend unusual materials and feature more functions within one piece."
Le chino's Velvet collection ranges from US$0.50-2.50 per piece FOB Hong Kong for minimum orders of 1,000 pieces, delivered 20-25 days after order confirmation.
"About 70% of our exports go to Europe, with the Middle East, the US and Asia other important markets," Lee notes. "We have also entered new markets such as Eastern Europe and South America."
Japan is the major stationery market for three-year-old Asquare Industrial Co Ltd, which produces stationery, premiums and promotional items at its 120-worker factory in Shenzhen. " Europe is also a key market for us," explains director Yuen Hong.
The company's main business is OEM and ODM, but it also produces its own Asquare label of creative stationery items. "Our brand features the transparent Miss Cinderella shoe penholder, which doubles as a paper-clip holder and is available in any colour," explains Yuen Hong.
Another novel item is the company's Mr T card holder with LCD clock and date display. "The card holder is shaped like a tiny toaster, and a business card pops out just like a piece of toast when you press the button," he notes. "We also have the cute Mr D duck-shaped tape dispenser and the Roly-Poly spring ball scissors with safety cover."
Unit product prices range from US$0.60-1.70 FOB Hong Kong or the mainland, for minimum orders of 1,000 pieces per item per colour delivered 30 days after order confirmation.
Another company with its own brand is 38-year-old industry veteran Kingin Industries Ltd, which offers OEM and ODM services as well as its own Union label.
Kingin manufactures plastic, ceramic and glass souvenirs and premium items at its 600-worker factory in Dongguan on the mainland. "We produce a variety of stationery, such as ball pens, pencils and jumbo pencils, for leading companies including Disney worldwide and SeaWorld in the US and Australia," says marketing executive Betty Chiu.
Ball pens come in a variety of novelty styles - including floating, capped, clicked, roped and key chain versions as well as PVC figurines and PVC twisted-top models - while other popular products include PVC pencil toppers.
"The trend is for companies to use their own styles, which depends largely on which TV and movie characters are popular in each country," notes Chiu.
Product prices range from US$0.15-1.00 per piece FOB Hong Kong - depending on style - for minimum orders of 120 dozen per design per item.
Kingin's leading markets are the US and Europe, with other important destinations including Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Africa.
The US is also the major market for ISO 9001-certified, 17-year-old Sealmark Ltd, which manufactures polyresin and ceramic stationery and gift items at its 180,000-square-foot, 450-worker factory in Dongguan.
"Most of our orders are ODM but we also produce our own Collectible Features brand," explains manager Alan Wong. "Our designs mainly feature whimsical animals and our stationery range has at least 12 collections, each a different animal."
These polyresin collections include such items as name card holders, paper-clip holders, and an unusual tape dispenser which, when pressed, makes the sound of the animal. "We have written a sound chip for each animal with the cow, pig and frog collections proving the most popular so far," adds Wong.
Prices range from US$2-5 per piece FOB Yantian for minimum orders of one TEU or US$10,000 per order value, delivered 60 days after order confirmation.
From creative creatures to imaginative materials, Hong Kong manufacturers are stretching the boundaries of the novelty stationery market with popular products appealing to all ages, cultures and countries.
WRITTEN BY SANDRA JENNER
San-Ban Mfg Co Ltd
1/F, Blk B
East Sun Ind Centre
16 Shing Yip St
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
No. 21, 11/F
Goldfield Ind Centre
1 Sui Wo Rd
Fo Tan, New Territories