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TDC NEWS(HKTDC Houseware,1999)

November 1999

- Buyers From Emerging Markets Flock To Watch & Clock Fair
- MarComAsia Draws 51% More Overseas Visitors
- Mainland Consumers Seek Quality


Buyers From Emerging Markets Flock To Watch & Clock Fair

THE world's largest specialised timepiece trade fair -- Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair '99 -- attracted 16,033 buyers, registering an increase of 1.4% over last year's event, with buyer attendance from emerging markets, such as Malaysia, Mexico, Argentina and Russia, growing significantly.

The fair, co-organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), the Hong Kong Watch Mfrs Assn Ltd and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries Ltd, was held from 7 to 11 September. This year's event featured a total of 780 exhibitors from 15 countries and regions showcasing innovative timepieces and related products.

The number of overseas buyers attending this year's event grew by 4.3% to 5,939, while the number of local buyers was 10,094, almost the same as last year, according to German-based independent audit specialist the Voluntary Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics.

Visitors from Asia (58%) topped the list of overseas buyers, followed by Europe (19.8%) and North America (9.1%). Japan has become the top source of buyers outside Hong Kong, followed by mainland China, Taiwan, the US, Malaysia, South Korea, Germany, Thailand, India and Australia.

"The positive growth in buyer attendance further underlined Hong Kong's position as the major supplier and distribution hub of watches and clocks in Asia," said Kevin Lau, co-chairman of the fair organising committee.

Benedict Sin, the other co-chairman of the fair organising committee, said: "Buyer attendance from Hong Kong's emerging markets such as Malaysia, Mexico, Argentina and Russia have demonstrated strong growth of 242%, 69%, 61.5% and 56.8%, respectively. This reflects that the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair is an effective channel for watch and clock companies to penetrate not only traditional markets but also emerging markets."

Lily Lai, marketing manager at local exhibitor Sun Tai Watch Co Ltd, was satisfied with the business results. "Responses from our customers are good. They are particularly interested in our ana-digi watches, [which are] especially designed for young people," she said.

"Apart from meeting customers from our traditional markets, like the US and Europe, we are happy to see buyers from Asian countries. There are more buyers from [South] Korea, indicating that the Korean market has shown signs of recovery," she added.

The South Korean delegation formed the largest overseas pavilion at the fair. BK Jang, general manager of overseas business department at exhibitor Romanson, said: "We have been participating in the fair for eight years. The fair is a good occasion for us to meet watch buyers, distributors and importers from around the world. We received on-the-spot orders and also made some new contacts."

Michel Blondeau, manager of French company RMJ Distribution, said: "The fair must be good because I have been coming back for 10 years. This year, I am searching for watches and alarm clocks -- of course, I haven't had any trouble finding the right one."

Adrian Videla of Surlider from Argentina was another regular buyer visiting the fair. "We are here to source clocks. I knew I would find what I was looking for here. I have been coming for the last eight years and I never leave empty-handed. I have already placed some orders," he said.

TDC and fair co-organisers are looking at special ways to make the "millennium show" -- Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2000 -- more exciting than ever.

MarComAsia Draws 51% More Overseas Visitors

FURTHER establishing itself as the premier event of its kind in the region, MarComAsia attracted more than 6,400 trade visitors, with overseas visitors showing a significant growth of 51% compared with the inaugural show held last year.

The three-day event, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 1 to 3 September, drew visitors from mainland China, Japan, Taiwan, Macau, India, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, the UK, Australia and the US.

Featuring the latest concepts, techniques and tools of the marketing, communication and advertising industry, MarComAsia '99 was particularly attractive to the more than 1,000 mainland visitors. Among them was a delegation of 37 buyers from prominent mainland firms, who were particularly keen to explore new media channels to promote their products and services in the competitive mainland market and overseas.

"MarComAsia can keep professionals in the industry well-abreast of the latest information and ideas in the industry, which is very essential for deciding successful marketing and advertising strategy," said Li Jin Kui, director of Guangdong MD Holding Co Ltd.

Manufacturing household air-conditioners under the MD label and exporting on an OEM basis, Guangdong MD Holding has worked with Hong Kong advertising companies in planning and executing its advertising campaign.

"The event also enables us to further explore the scope of co-operation between Hong Kong and the mainland in marketing and promoting our products," Li said.

Lina Jin, senior brand supervisor of Guangzhou San Miguel Brewery Co, was impressed by the China Media Pavilion. "The China Media Pavilion provides a very comprehensive profile of the media outlets on the mainland, from the major to the second-tier cities. Our brand is thinking of expanding in northern and eastern China, and I have established useful contacts here," Jin said.

Among the buying group was Gao Ping, manager of Shenzhen Sed Electronics Corpn, a mainland manufacturer of electronic components. "As our clients are not the final consumers, we promote our products and brand name at exhibitions and [in] trade magazines. Therefore I am very interested in the latest technologies which can enhance further our exposure," Gao said.

"The portable and reusable display on exhibit is really inspiring. It is practical, aesthetically appealing and can be a resources-saving alternative. Moreover, the large-scale conference has also been very effective in presenting the latest trends and concepts of the advertising industry, especially the one on ÔRejuvenating the Brand' and ÔBuilding Chinese Brands Globally'," he added.

TDC organised 29 seminars at MarComAsia '99. The three-day conference presented by industry leaders from top-notch companies were attended by more than 2,200 industry representatives.

Mainland Consumers Seek Quality

QUALITY of life" will be the catchword for the next wave of consumer market trends in mainland China, says Edward Leung, chief economist at TDC.

During the 10th five-year plan period (2001-2005), consumers in most cities on the mainland will shift to quality lifestyle spending. The proportion of their expenditure on foodstuffs, clothing and household electrical appliances will decline, while more will be spent on transport and communications, education, medical services, travel, and health care products and services.

Commenting on the slackening consumer market recently, he says: "The maturing consumer behaviour in the mainland is an important factor, in addition to rising unemployment and reforms on medical, housing and education systems.

"There is an excess supply of traditional products, such as food and electrical appliances in the market; while at the same time demand for new products is ever-increasing, especially items that meet mainland consumers' need for convenience, quality and their pursuit of personal development."

Such products include personal computers, mobile phones, credit cards, sterilising cabinets, dishwashers, personal care products, fitness equipment, high-quality educational facilities and services.

Hong Kong companies should take note of the changing consumption patterns and market trends when formulating their marketing and expansion plans on the mainland, he says.

TDC has released a Trade Watch report entitled Structural Changes in China's Consumer Market: Market Forecast for the Tenth Five-Year Plan & Opportunities for Hong Kong.

It says with the gradually liberalising market, rising living standards and various reforms on the way, the change in spending patterns will bring new trends to the mainland consumer market. These include:

  • Keen competition in the food market -- despite the falling percentage in food expenses, the absolute amount spent will remain high because of a rise in living standards. Keener competition is expected, but health care and nutritional foods, green foods and specialities will still have great market potential.
  • Unique designs and brand names for the clothing market -- consumers will look for special designs and higher-quality products. Branding and image will play a major role in boosting sales.
  • Electronics and electrical appliances -- intensified competition is expected in the market for traditional products, but new items could still draw customers.
  • Booming market for communications equipment -- demand for all kinds of communications equipment will be strong, given the low coverage of such services on the mainland. The introduction of Internet phones, e-commerce and Internet applications will fuel growth in demand for computers, software, and related equipment, parts and services.
  • Strong demand for auto accessories and maintenance services -- rising living standards and popularised use of consumer credit will drive up demand for car ownership and the need for car accessories and maintenance services. Hong Kong companies should target the higher-end market for more opportunities.
  • Quality lifestyle services -- the consumer pattern will shift from quantity- to quality-oriented, and spending on services will increase. Special food and beverage services, education, medical services and consultation services for overseas promotion and investment will offer room for expansion.
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