1 Jan 2003
The Cube Root(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 01,2003)
Straight From The Heart
Bags Of Surprises
Intermed Asie Co Ltd
|The remarkable success of the Magic Cube and related products has helped Intermed Asie Co Ltd gain impressive market share in the US, Europe, Australia and Asia|
Open it, again, and again and again...the Magic Cube is an ingenious design that is also very hard to put down, and it has been the cornerstone of Intermed Asie Co Ltd's business since it was patented in 1995.
Frenchman Christian Prost founded Intermed Asie in Taiwan in the mid-1980s, sourcing lapel pins and badges for the premiums and promotions sector. About 10 years ago, he set up an independent Hong Kong office, and soon after came up with the idea for the Magic Cube.
"Basically, we haven't looked back since, and Magic Cube's total sales are in excess of 20 million pieces since its introduction," says assistant general manager Carine Lee.
"The Magic Cube design involves eight injection-moulded cubes connected in a special sequence, using printed labels, to form a larger cube. In turn, the large cube opens out to reveal a new face each time. In all, there are six square and three rectangular faces accommodating any content that the customer desires," she adds.
"This is a very special design that is put together by hand. We spent a long time training our suppliers' workers to get it just right," she says. "We sell mainly to the promotions industry and the retail market. It makes a very good advertisement, souvenir or novelty item.
"The US is our biggest market. People there are always open to new ideas and adapted to the Magic Cube very quickly. However, Europe, Australia and Asia have matured, and now we are setting our sights on Eastern Europe. We already have orders from Russia and Poland," says Lee.
Declaring that a company cannot stand still, she says, "We continue to develop new designs based on the Magic Cube and now use circles, triangles and other shapes. We have also adapted it to hold pens, contain a clock and have secret compartments with other surprises inside. There are also versions that are magnetic, scented and even one that makes noises triggered by a light sensor when it is opened."
The success of the Magic Cube has led to interest from other patent holders. Rubik's Cube - the infuriatingly hard puzzle from the early 1980s - has appointed Intermed Asie as worldwide licensee to exploit the full potential of the invention. "Much like the Magic Cube, the Rubik's Cube is hard to resist picking up and playing with. This means an engaged audience spending more time absorbing the information on the cube, such as messages and logos," Lee says.
"We have developed a lot of products from the Rubik's Cube mechanism and now have balls, cans, a brain and 3-D figures," she says. "Tangle, an articulated coil, is another recent licence that is generating a lot of interest."
Flexibility, service and fast delivery are important policies. "We have very good relations with our suppliers. We pay them on time and help them out as much as possible. This means that our orders get priority, and the suppliers take extra special care to get things right. Actually, most of our long-term customers have so much confidence in our product quality that they often don't inspect consignments before delivery," adds Lee.
"We work very hard to maintain annual growth, and our well-known CEO travels constantly to support different country-agents and meet as many customers as possible. Our reputation is important, we keep our word and always deliver on time."
WRITTEN BY ALISTAIR WADDELL
Intermed Asie Co Ltd
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