7 Jan 2004
Timepieces(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 01,2004)
Le Chino Ltd combines form with function in its timepieces such as this alarm clock with thermometer (front) and an unusual gear stick digital alarm clock
The two main ways Hong Kong manufacturers believe they can achieve success in the gifts and premiums industry is to release a continual stream of new designs and find the perfect material.
For Zmart Products Development Ltd, the perfect material is zinc alloy. Although the company only began working with zinc alloy in 2003, sales and marketing manager William Ma foresees a future where 50% of all its designs will be made of this metal.
Since last year Zmart has also tried to ensure that a sizeable proportion of its 200,000 monthly output, from a 3,000-square-metre factory on the Chinese mainland, is "useful". One example is a wing radio (measuring 120x60x128mm), which comes equipped with alarm, FM autoscan radio and two AAA batteries. Some models also come with a bonus gift such as a key chain.
As for new looks, buyers can expect to see a number of geometric shapes in sharp colours in coming months. As for size, Ma says the firm has already gone as small as it can go, adding that Zmart's products are on average 10% smaller than those of three years ago. Minimum order size is 5,000 pieces, delivered within 30 days of order confirmation to markets in Europe, the US and South Africa.
Zinc alloy is also a favourite material of newcomer Le Chino Ltd. "We try to take images that are popular in plastic and recreate them in zinc alloy," says general manager Kevin Lau. "Our main focus is on the shape, on what catches the eye."
One example of just such an eye-catcher is an unusual digital alarm clock shaped like a gear stick. Minimum order for the gear stick (as for all models) is 500 pieces, and lead time is 20-30 days. Main markets are Europe, the US and Australia.
OEM accounts for 20-30% of this ISO 9001-certified manufacturer's total production. Lau adds that the 11-member design team's exposure to famous international designers is very valuable.
Future models are expected to shrink about 10% in size. Do not expect to see any bright splashes of colour coming out of the 300,000-square-foot Shenzhen factory, though. "We have tried different colours but there was little response," says Lau.
Ikonee Int'l Ltd manager Vitus Cheung says "to compete in this market you have to give the impression of continuity, and you have to keep putting out more new designs". Ikonee does that by releasing 20-40 new models annually. Monthly production at its 3,600-square-metre Shenzhen factory on the mainland stands at 10,000-30,000 pieces per model.
Fun clocks aimed at children and teenagers made from PVC are the company's specialty. Features are kept to a minimum, sporting crescendo alarm beep and snooze functions.
"We concentrate on the exterior look," says Cheung. Most of the design focus is put into the housing but efforts are made to ensure the dial and housing are in harmony, stresses Cheung.
Main markets for this manufacturer of clocks, desktop accessories and gift items are the US, Japan, France, Italy and Brazil. Minimum orders are 500-3,000 pieces and delivery time is 30-45 days after order confirmation.
A continual release of new designs is also 30-year-old Parmanand (HK) Ltd's strategy, while the emphasis is on "useful" products. Its carabiner clock can hook on to any number of surfaces, while its banana clock is finely balanced to ensure it will not be easily tipped over by someone trying to snatch more sleep.
"We are constantly trying to add more features," says manager Ricky Samtani. The carabiner clock comes equipped with a stopwatch and LED light.
On the manufacturing front, Parmanand has a joint venture with three mainland factories in Ningbo and Guangdong and Fujian Provinces. "This way we share the work and can avoid a lot of problems over taxes and payments that may arise," says Samtani.
Being a joint owner of three factories also makes it easier to produce the large number of models Parmanand is putting on the market. Average monthly production per model is 200,000 pieces. Minimum order size is 5,000 pieces and delivery time to main markets of Europe and North and South America is 30 days.
From the fun to the highly unusual, Hong Kong's gifts and premiums makers are making sure their dual strategies for success keep on working.
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
Parmanand (HK) Ltd
5-15 Hankow Rd
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Zmart Products Development Ltd
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
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