10 April 2008
Thirsty Work(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 02,2008)
Unusual combinations of materials create fresh new looks to quench the market thirst for novelty
Quality and choice are the keys to successful business for Hong Kong's drinkware producers, as they strive to maintain a dominant position at all levels of this diverse field.
This includes Trempest Ltd, a veteran manufacturer of silver-plated and stainless steel tableware and giftware. "We offer nearly 200 drinkware items, ranging from champagne flutes to hip flasks," says Operations Manager Thomas Lam. "Silver-plated drinkware is especially popular for giftware, while stainless steel is ideal for everyday household items as it is very easy to look after."
One of the company's most popular silver-plated series is champagne flutes. "Sold in pairs, these are ideal wedding gifts," advises Mr Lam. "We offer more than a dozen designs and are constantly introducing new styles."
Variations include the highly popular silver-plated, heart-shaped champagne flute (model T307H-S2). "For this model we use silver-plated zinc alloy from Australia," notes Mr Lam. "Other champagne flutes feature decorative rhinestones. One model, for example, has rhinestones on the outer stem, and another has crystals inside the glass stem."
Trempest's most popular line of stainless steel drinkware is its wide range of barware, featuring numerous items from shakers and bar tools to ice buckets. "There is a continued trend for stainless steel drinkware in line with its popular use in houseware design," believes Mr Lam, adding that the firm's biggest markets are the US and Europe.
Also capitalising on the growing wedding gifts sector is International Glass & Metal Mfy Ltd, a manufacturer of gifts, premiums and tableware.
"As part of the wedding gifts business, which we introduced 2-3 years ago, we offer more than 10 different styles of high-end champagne glasses, sold in pairs specifically as wedding gifts," explains Marketing Manager Tian Wong.
Among the company's most popular models are its "Love" champagne flutes, with a zinc alloy stand featuring a LOVE design. "The stand can be plated in silver, brass, copper, gold or any other colour specified by the customer, who can also opt to have the word LOVE covered by coloured crystals," Ms Wong says.
"Our champagne flutes are proving very popular and are a good business item with year-round appeal," she says. These champagne flutes cost between US$7-10 per pair FOB Hong Kong, and have become hits in the US, Europe and Australia.
The market thirst for stainless steel drinkware has recently seen flatware and dinnerware manufacturer and exporter Brilliant Industrial (China) Ltd diversifying into the sector.
"We moved into stainless steel drinkware this year because our stainless steel flatware customers were asking for these products," explains Manager Sam Chan. "Currently we produce about 20 stainless steel drinkware items, mainly mugs and four-serve coffee and tea sets, and single cup and saucer giftware."
Producing its own designs, as well as catering to ODM and OEM, Brilliant Industrial uses 18/8 and 18/0 stainless steel, and Mr Chan echoes the popular appeal of stainless steel as not only fashionable but also easy to clean and highly durable.
"Our designs are simple yet modern, and we can also manufacture tea and coffee pots, sugar bowls and milk jugs to match," he adds.
Concentrating on a different line of stainless steel items, Buzz-Partner Ltd offers more than 80 designs of polycarbonate water bottles and travel mugs to its ODM and OEM customers.
"Our top-selling products are our 16-ounce stainless steel double-wall tumbler models 9806-H and 9806," advises Director David Wong, noting that the items have a SAN translucent outer case, stainless steel liner and lid, and plastic handle.
"All our stainless steel is 18/8 and FDA-approved," he claims, adding that the company can make products in any Pantone colour. Also, some of Buzz-Partner's latest products focus on new shapes and material combinations to add value and appeal to the high-end market.
Cocktail of materials
"In 2007, for example, we introduced a porcelain mug with a stainless steel liner in response to customer demand," Mr Wong says, referring to model 8817-C, which features a plastic turning or flipping lid.
"We have also launched a new PC bottle with stainless steel parts and a PC body in 1,000ml, 650ml and 350ml sizes, with easy-drinking suction mouthpieces," he adds.
"Stainless steel gives a bottle a modern, stylish look, while PC is heat- and cold-resistant," explains Mr Wong, noting that the bottle usually comes in a high-shine, satin finish.
He reveals that the company will be launching new products at the HKTDC Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair from 28 April - 1 May 2008. "These will also focus on combining different materials, but the exact designs and styles are under wraps until the show."
Buzz-Partner's product unit prices range from US$3-5 FOB Hong Kong. Sales are mostly to the US, which accounts for 70% of exports, while other important destinations include Japan and Southeast Asia. "We are also approaching Europe as a new market," Mr Wong advises.
Designing for established and new markets ensures that Hong Kong drinkware producers continue to satisfy the thirsts of buyers worldwide, who, with such a refreshing range to choose from, have good reason to pop champagne corks and drink a toast to prospective success.
TEXT BY SANDRA JENNER