11 Jan 2006
Pen Sets(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 01,2006)
Given its long and proud tradition as one of the world's leading gifts and premiums manufacturing centres, Hong Kong is at the forefront of the international promotional pen industry.
Elefame Int'l Ltd is typical of many Hong Kong manufacturers, maintaining a 500-worker, ISO 9994-certified factory in Zhejiang Province on the Chinese mainland capable of producing up to 200,000 pens a month in a variety of materials.
The five-year-old manufacturer's plastic roller-ball type pens, for example, start at US$ 0.32 FOB Shanghai, while a heavier model in brass costs US$1.20 FOB Shanghai. "These items are normally available as boxed gift sets, supplied with matching accessories such as key rings and lighters," explains manager Nelly Li, adding that minimum quantities of 1,000 sets are delivered 30 days after order confirmation to clients in Elefame's major market, France.
Focusing more on the design and manufacture of a wide range of writing instruments rather than combination gift sets, Future Source Pens Ltd supplies customers worldwide from a 3,500-square-metre, 150-worker mainland factory in Shenzhen.
Future Source uses plastic, steel, copper, stainless steel, silver and gold in its extensive ballpoint, rollerball and fountain pens and mechanical pencil range, which includes such esoteric electronic items as radio, infrared, detector and sensor and torch pens.
"We have seen a shift in customer preference from cheap items to a much higher standard that is quality-driven during the eight years we have been in business," marketing manager Chan Chi Ho observes, noting that mainland customers prefer rollerball pens while Americans are more inclined to order fountain pens.
One of the OEM/ODM company's latest high-end developments is a metal and chrome USB and MP3 ballpoint pen that boasts a 128MB memory, is volume- and track-adjustable and has a five-hour playtime and 30,000-hour life.
Like the rest of Future Source's products, the USB and MP3 pen is finished in-house and is available in 2,000-unit minimum order quantities delivered 35 days after sample approval. "Prices range from US$2-5 FOB Hong Kong, with high-end products selling for US$30 each," Chan adds.
Premium Collection Industries Ltd, however, prefers to focus on ever-popular items such as the highlighter, which forms a large proportion of the 500,000 pieces the company's 200 workers produce each month at a 20,000-square-foot factory in Dongguan on the mainland.
"Our most popular lines are the most basic and least expensive, with prices in the range of US$0.30-2.50 FOB Hong Kong for metal-bodied models," manager Andy Wong explains.
He says rollerballs and ballpoints make up the bulk of the Premium Collection product portfolio, with unusually-shaped novelty items and highlighters forming most of the remainder.
"Light pens - with either built-in laser pointers suitable for presentations or an LED light source that allows the pen to be used in a dark environment - are still popular but are not as hot as when they were launched about two years ago," Wong notes.
Sourcing metal components from the mainland and plastics from Taiwan, the five-year-old company exports minimum orders of 5,000 pieces to the US, France, Germany and Spain 30 days after receipt of an order.
Meanwhile, Super Hyper Ltd manager Monica Li has noticed an increase in demand for the 15-year-old company's range of fountain pens, and attributes this to an increased emphasis on the development of handwriting in European schools.
"However, our most popular product is a low-cost plastic ballpen with a very large imprint area that is perfect for promotional use," she adds.
"Customers can mix and match promotional gift sets, all of which can be personalised and presented in a tailor-made box."
Super Hyper's 30,000-square-foot, 300-worker factory in Shenzhen exports minimum orders of 1,000 items to European markets such as the UK and Germany, the US, Korea and South Africa. "Prices start at US$0.07 per piece FOB Hong Kong and delivery is 3-4 weeks after order confirmation," Li says.
A firm believer in tradition, Eagle (Int'l) Development Co manufactures ball, roller, fountain and wooden pens at a 6,600-square-metre, 400-worker factory in Fujian Province that can produce up to six million items a month.
"We have more than 200 machines that allow us to offer a full in-house design and manufacturing service for high-volume runs," marketing department spokeswoman Indy Law explains.
Eagle uses brass, copper and aluminium from Taiwan, Germany, the US and Europe in its pens, which are exported to Europe, the US and Asia in 5,000-unit minimum orders delivered 30-45 days after order confirmation.
Obviously, Hong Kong manufacturers are continuing their proud tradition of producing high-quality items that serve to promote not only themselves but also enterprising businesses worldwide.
WRITTEN BY DAVID MOORE
Premium Collection Industries Ltd