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Something For Everyone(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 03,2007)

Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair

 

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Experienced buyers know that Asia's largest gifts and premiums fair is one event that they simply can't afford to miss

The Hall of Fine Designs was a veritable one-stop shop for time-starved buyers at the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair, which ran from April 28-May 1 this year.

The premium zone at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was packed with high-quality products specifically selected to appeal to buyers seeking eye-catching designs with proven consumer appeal.

Take, for example, the cute and cuddly animal characters produced by NICI GmbH that are fashioned into soft plush toys, beanbag key rings, or become vivid prints on mugs, home or office accessories, fashion bags and pouches.

Sales manager Florence Law believes that buyers are attracted by NICI characters, which have very strong emotional appeal to their customers.

"The Wild Friends and Farm Friends series are most popular," Law observed. "This year beanbag key rings and MagNICIs - small beanbag characters with magnets inside - are the hottest items and are fast becoming adorable collectibles."

NICI ships worldwide to more than 50 countries. "We are stronger in premiums in Europe as European buyers opt for quality, while in Asia we perform better in the gift sector," Law explained, adding that NICI currently has six retail shops and more than 100 points of sale on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong and Macau. "We will definitely be back for the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair in 2008."

Equally determined to return next year was Davide Cervellati, export manager of photo frame manufacturer Mascagni S.p.A.

"We are really glad to have touched base with many quality customers from Korea, Australia and Japan who are willing to pay a bit more for our exquisite designs," Cervellati noted. "We will definitely be here next year."

Mascagni's stylish glass photo frames that included models with metal rings, classy lacquered ebony designs in black-and-white zebra print, or a black glass series accented with graphic motifs and Swarovski crystals captured buyers' attention.

"Design is an integral element of our products which, we hope, become an example of refined decor inside a house," Cervellati said. "Hence we always keep track of the latest interior trend directions to keep our twice-yearly collections fashionable and trendy."

Founded in Italy in the 1930s, Italy's oldest photo-frame manufacturer specialises in wood, glass and metal photo frames that account for 90% of its output, with the remainder consisting of photo albums and other sophisticated home accessories.

Also keeping a close eye on Asia is BSC ITALIA Spa, which displayed a full range of deluxe corporate gifts bearing such high-fashion names such as Balenciaga, Iceberg, Belfe, Lancetti, Renato Balestra, Gattinoni, Akakuro and Compagnia Delle Indie.

"We are licensed distributors of corporate gifts for these brands and offer two lines - one high-end corporate collection for top VIP clients and another less-costly promotional collection for managerial levels," explained vice president Stefano Bortolotti.

"We have similar items for both collections, which revolve around fashion accessories like scarves, fashion bags, wallets, watches and luggage."

Supported by its in-house design, development and research departments, BSC ITALIA works closely with various brands to create their gift collections each season.

"We serve more than 600 clients in 46 countries, with our major customers coming from Germany, Italy and France," noted Bortolotti. "However, our goal for this year and 2008 will be Asia, which we believe is buoyant and promising."

BSC ITALIA has already made serious inroads in Asia since its first participation in the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair in 2005.

"We have entered the Indian, Chinese mainland and Japanese markets and added to our existing exports to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines," Bortolotti revealed.

Another regular exhibitor at the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair that has established a Hong Kong office to manage its booming Asian business is Tangle Inc.

CEO Richard Zawitz said the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair is "the best show in the world" and an important marketing platform for the company.

"Most visitors I have met are from the US, though the market with the most potential is inevitably Asia - it just keeps growing," he said.

Zawitz traced the success of the company's stress-relieving puzzles with their numerous colourful variations back to his First Twist and Statue of Infinity sculptures that were inspired by the Tibetan infinite knot.

"It is amazing to think that our Tangle toys, which debuted 26 years ago together with the founding of our company, have sold more than 100 million pieces worldwide," exclaimed Zawitz.

Technically, a Tangle is a series of 90-degree curves, connected and able to pivot at each joint, but experientially the motion it creates is hypnotic. "It has become the only product to be sold both at Wal-Mart stores and the Museum of Modern Art in New York," Zawitz claimed.

The creative CEO has kept revamping his original idea, making Tangle toys not only big sellers in the retail market, but also very popular premiums.

Tangle has recently concluded licensing deals with Nickelodeon to produce SpongeBob Square Pants and Dora the Explorer Tangles, while many household names like Coca-Cola, Kellogg's and Jell-O have used Tangles as gifts-with-purchase promos.

"We have introduced Pet Tangle, Baby Tangle, Sports Tangle, the Matrix Tangle stress ball and a Tangle Table Lamp over the years, and this year our hot pick is Tangle Speaker, which is a portable speaker system for an iPod, all digital devices and MP3 players," Zawitz enthused.

Buyers seeking the most innovative and successful gifts and premiums don't need to get themselves into a tangle - they just have to make a yearly visit to the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair!

 

HITTING NEW HEIGHTS

A record-breaking 3,901 exhibitors from 38 countries and regions participated in the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 28-May 1 this year.

The largest of its kind in Asia and the second-largest in the world, the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair showcased an extensive array of quality gift and premium products.

New exhibitors this year from emerging markets such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland and Peru helped attract 50,585 trade visitors from all over the world.

In addition, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), which co-organised the event, invited 88 buying missions from 55 countries and regions, including 3,100 companies and 6,000 buyers.

Among them were a number of well-known international chain stores and leading distributors, including Carrefour of France, MUJI and SOGO from Japan, Sweden's H&M; the UK's Tesco and Woolworths and Wal-Mart and Toys 'R' Us from the US.

Several international brand names also sourced promotional items at the fair, including Coca-Cola, Carlsberg Brewery, Christian Dior-Parfums and Moet Hennessy.

"Hong Kong's gift and premium exports totalled more than US$20bn in 2006," fair organising committee chairman Jeffrey Lam noted.

"That's telling evidence of Hong Kong's ability to gauge market trends, and to respond to buyers' needs with efficiency, speed and quality."

This year's fair:

  • expanded to cover 78,000 square metres
  • featured 4,200 booths and three special zones
  • showcased 51 companies and their elegant collections in The Hall of Fine Designs
  • presented a broad range of traditional, hi-tech and educational children's gift items in Kid's World
  • spotlighted decorative and functional items at the Ladies' Gifts and Premium section
  • featured products including advertising gifts, pictures and photo frames, ceramic gifts, silverware, consumer electronics, stationery, corporate gifts, toys and sporting goods, fashion jewellery and accessories, travel goods, watches and clocks, general gift items, paper and packaging and party and holiday decorations.

Pakistan put together a group pavilion for the first time, while other group pavilions included Australia, the Chinese mainland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK and members of the Hong Kong Exporters' Association.

Adding spice to the fair was a series of handicraft demonstrations, including Japanese gift wrapping, stained-glass bookmark making and decoupage.

TEXT BY WINNIE HUI