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Region's Largest Toys Fair Bolsters Strong Industry Confidence(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 02,2001)

Vol. 2 2001

TDC News

Region's Largest Toys Fair Bolsters Strong Industry Confidence

Go West, Enterprises Urged

Stationery Fair Attendance Surges

Handshakes Build Business Best

Region's Largest Toys Fair Bolsters Strong Industry Confidence

THERE'S nothing like fun and games to lure a jovial crowd. The Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair 2001, from 9-12 January at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, attracted 24,992 buyers from all over the world, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), which organized the event.

"This year's fair featured 1,586 exhibitors from 28 countries and regions. Such strong buyer turnout confirms the fair's leading position and Hong Kong's status as an Asian trade-fair capital," said TDC senior exhibitions manager Anne Chick.

"Notably, the number of overseas buyers rose 3.5%, with attendance from the US, our major market, increasing 5%," she added.

"Buyers from the Chinese mainland were very active (up 21%), demonstrating the vitality and new business opportunities emerging as the mainland enters the World Trade Organization."

Asian and European markets showed promising growth signs, with respective attendance rises of 4.2% and 3.9%.

A total of 12,035 buyers came from beyond Hong Kong, accounting for 48% of all attendees. The top visiting countries and regions were Japan, the Chinese mainland, the US, Taiwan, South Korea, the UK, Thailand, Australia, France and Germany.

Among the exhibitors were nine group pavilions - from the Chinese mainland, Germany, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Macau, Spain, Taiwan and Thailand.

While creating a marketplace for new products and a venue for conducting business, the fair also provided a platform to exchange market intelligence.

Aiming to keep fair participants abreast of market information and product trends, TDC commissioned AC Nielsen to conduct an independent survey. Altogether, 708 exhibitors and 1,451 buyers were interviewed.

Exhibitors and buyers alike expressed optimism about business prospects. TDC Toys Advisory Committee chairman Edmund Young said, "More than 60% of the people interviewed perceive the outlook in 2001 to be better, or slightly better, than in 2000."

Since the Chinese mainland's WTO accession will create a more open toy market, most exhibitors expect more sales there.

Major survey findings are as follows:

  • 51% of the US buyers expect the US toy retail market will grow, though at a slower pace;
  • 58% of European buyers expect the European toy retail market will grow;
  • 57% of buyers expect to sell more to the Chinese mainland;
  • Mainland consumers regard toys from Hong Kong manufacturers as offering good safety standards, strong designs and high quality;
  • More than 60% of the interviewees expect licensed characters will remain important;
  • Buyers say the top licensed items in 2001 will be Koge, Hello Kitty, Toy Story characters, Disney characters, Pokemon, Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Snoopy, Digimon and Sanrio characters.

In addition, most respondents believe that although Internet retailing is rising in popularity, it will not replace traditional toy shopping. They say the Internet prompts children to spend more time on computers and enlarges market potential for electronic games and interactive toys.

Other fair attractions included a China market seminar and a China toys retail study tour to Shenzhen on the mainland. In addition, TDC joined the Hong Kong Q-Mark Council in organizing a seminar to brief toy makers on details of the International Council of Toy Industries Code of Business Practices.

The next Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair is scheduled for 8-11 January 2002. To encourage even more small and medium-sized firms to use the event as a cost-effective export-marketing tool, participation fees for the upcoming fair will decrease by 5-12%.

Go West, Enterprises Urged

COMPANIES based in Hong Kong are likely to respond to the opening of consumer markets and infrastructure development in the Chinese mainland's western region, judging by a new TDC report.

The report, Opportunities for Hong Kong in Western China, also examines regional investment opportunities in the industrial and services sectors.

"Although per-capita spending on consumer goods remains lower than in coastal areas, spending in western China's major cities is catching up fast. There is a huge market for Hong Kong products," says TDC assistant chief economist Pansy Yau.

"Increasing urbanization will change patterns of consumer spending. Emergence of a larger, younger consumer group, plus growth of a middle class and future economic expansion, all enhance the consumer market.

"Hong Kong companies may consider capitalizing on the relaxation of domestic sales restrictions following the Chinese mainland's WTO accession, in order to gain a solid foothold in the western region."

The mainland government's western region development programme provides foreign investors with a more favourable environment to tap regional advantages. Local authorities will have greater autonomy to approve projects, and foreign investors will be allowed to participate in a wider scope of businesses.

"A different mindset is required when investing in the western region. Considering its landlocked location, the traditional form of fast-turnover, quick-return export processing may not be the best choice," Yau says.

"Since Hong Kong products have a good reputation among consumers, Hong Kong manufacturers may consider utilizing the technical strength of indigenous manufacturers and forming partnerships to upgrade their designs, marketing and management to produce for the domestic market via licensing agreements."


Stationery Fair Attendance Surges

ORGANIZERS of the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair 2001 say 11,764 visitors attended the four-day event from 9-12 January at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. That total doubles the attendance levels at the previous stationery show staged in Hong Kong.

There was an across-the-board increase. The number of overseas visitors surged 170%, accounting for nearly half the total. Most came from Japan, the Chinese mainland, the US, Taiwan and South Korea. The number of Hong Kong visitors increased by 104%.

Jointly organised by TDC and Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd, the fair featured more than 170 exhibitors, including group pavilions from the Chinese mainland, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, along with individual exhibitors from Australia, Canada, India, the Philippines, the US and Hong Kong.

Together, the exhibitors filled 6,000 square metres with displays highlighting a full range of stationery items for homes and offices.

Children's stationery and back-to-school items proved especially popular. Traditional pens, notebooks and art sets were revamped and redesigned to feature jazzy colours and emblems.

Multifunctional items were hot, especially those successfully combining practicality with entertainment value.

Naturally, the fair also offered many traditional items, such as quality writing instruments, leather organisers, folders, diaries and wrapping paper.

The fair was substantially larger than the last international trade event for the stationery industry held in Hong Kong in 1999.

TDC senior exhibitions manager Anne Chick said strategic rescheduling of the event to coincide with the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair was warmly welcomed. "With such encouraging attendance, the fair has strengthened Hong Kong's position as a one-stop sourcing centre for all sorts of stationery," she added.

Yet exhibitors stressed that a high proportion of the visitors were stationery specialists. "The people we saw were not merely browsers from the toy fair. They were serious buyers specifically sourcing stationery products. They are excellent contacts for us to have," said Geographics Australia managing director Graham Hanrahan, who displayed high-grade desktop publishing paper.

The Hong Kong International Stationery Fair evolved from the Pen & Paper show, staged each autumn from 1996 to 1999. The 2002 fair is set for 8-11 January, again concurrent with the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair.

Handshakes Build Business Best

THE Internet, despite its obvious power and many business applications, is unlikely to send traditional trade fair organizers into early retirement, according to participants at the 5th Asian Electronics Exhibition Cooperation Conference (AEECC) in Hong Kong on 9 February.

"We don't see the trend toward virtual exhibitions, or VE, as replacing physical exhibitions. Personal contact and real handshakes remain vital in the business cycle," said Clare Wong, deputy senior manager of TDC's e-commerce department.

"Rather, we see virtual exhibitions as an added value to exhibitions in the real world - a bricks and clicks model. Virtual exhibitions can be positioned to extend the limitations of physical exhibitions by means of technology."

VE takes various forms on different Web sites, ranging from exhibition information to online product catalogues to full virtual-reality exhibitions.

"To trade-fair exhibitors and visitors, VE can facilitate participation and improve communications. To trade-fair organizers, it serves as a means to uplift customer satisfaction, strengthen stickiness and enhance competitiveness," Wong said.

China Electronic Appliances Corp vice-president Gang Li agreed. "VE is more a potential chance than a threat to the exhibition industry," he said.

According to Japan Electronics Show Association director Jiro Iriye: "Real exhibitions cannot provide information on companies, new products and industry trends throughout the year, only during the periods when they are open. Therefore, it is necessary to provide information on Web sites or in cyber exhibitions, while e-mailing customers with details about upcoming real exhibitions. By doing this, more repeaters can be expected to visit real exhibitions."

Hosted by TDC, the annual conference enabled major electronics fair organizers and trade associations from throughout Asia to meet, exchange ideas and coordinate the planning of events across the region. Participants represented Japan, the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong. By ensuring that trade fairs complement each other, rather than clash, the conference successfully enhances benefits for buyers and exhibitors.

Among the highlights was a seminar, conducted by China National Electronics Import & Export Corp president Qian Benyuan, to discuss challenges and opportunities arising from the mainland's entry to the World Trade Organization.

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