1 June 2003
Adding Value Boosts Sales(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 02,2003)
Designs On Success
Adding Value Boosts Sales
EC (Asia) Ltd
EC (Asia) Ltd focuses on mid- to high-end men's and women's watches, especially classic and slim-case watches
Getting an edge in the face of increasingly stiff competition in the international watch market means two things to EC (Asia) Ltd: expanding product range and market spread, and adding value by focusing on customer relationship management.
EC (Asia) was established seven years ago, and today has its headquarters in Hong Kong, staffed by 20 people, and a manufacturing plant in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, with a workforce of around 50.
"We focus on mid- to high-end men's and women's watches, especially classic and slim-case watches - these are trends in the market," says marketing executive Julie Mark.
About 70% of the company's watches are made from stainless steel, with the balance in brass or alloy. Some of the high-end models are jewellery watches featuring stones such as cubic zirconia. "Some of our customers, particularly in Asia, also provide us with diamonds for their watches," Mark adds.
Most of the designs - about 85% - are OEM carrying customers' brand names. As well as watches, the company also produces imitation jewellery, packaging and other sundry products such as compasses.
Approximately 85% of the company's output is destined for the US, where customers are mainly importers. Smaller quantities are shipped to Europe, particularly Italy, and Asia, where Japan is the top market.
"Customers in the US look for quality rather than price and they prefer stainless steel watches," explains Mark.
"In Asia it is totally different: they focus on fashion, particularly in alloy, and look for cheaper prices. Europe also likes trendy designs and cheaper prices. The Middle East goes for low prices and doesn't mind the quality so much."
According to Mark, the main problem EC (Asia) faces is competition, mostly from the mainland where costs are lower. The company is fighting this on two fronts: by expanding its product range and market share, and by emphasising added value. "After-sales service and customer loyalty are very important," she adds.
To this end, EC (Asia) has implemented a CRM (customer relationship management) programme. "Nowadays, the customer is not only focused on price and one sale; they need to have more information and they request more service," says Mark. "We advise them on current trends in the market and provide them with as much information as we can on each design before they make their decision. That means they can reduce the risk of making a wrong decision."
Although the company will continue to concentrate on the middle- and high-end of the market, it is considering developing some low-end products aimed at the US and the Middle East markets. These low-price, high-volume lines - which Mark defines as being orders of between 5,000-10,000 pieces - will give EC (Asia) a bigger spread in the market.
"We would like to expand our product range not only for stainless steel and brass but also to develop more alloy watches in classic, sporty and children's designs," says Mark.
"We are considering developing jewellery lines in stainless steel to match the high-end watches. For the high end we are also looking to develop more items such as pocket watches and sporty and multifunction watches."
WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS
EC (Asia) Ltd
Unit B, 19/F, Henry Centre,
131 Wo Yi Hop Rd, Kwai Chung,
New Territories, Hong Kong
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