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HKTDC Summer Sourcing Show for Gifts, Houseware & Toys 2011 Seminar
Going Green, Tapping Technology

The next big things in corporate gifts look set to be eco-friendly items and “i products” — accessories for Apple Inc’s mobile gadgets — say industry experts.

They were speaking at a seminar entitled “Procurement Trends for Corporate Gifts and Market Analysis from An Online Group Buying Perspective” at the HKTDC Summer Sourcing Show for Gifts, Houseware & Toys 2011.

“Green products and i-products are upcoming trends in the corporate gifts market,” predicted Innovative Gift & Premium (HK) Marketing Director Josee Ha.

She said “green” products include:

  • energy-saving items, such as calculators and clocks that run on solar or kinetic energy or water power
  • items that support the principles of “reduce, reuse and recycle”, such as shopping bags and portable cutlery
  • items made with recycled, recyclable, bio-degradable materials, such as recycled paper and corn-based PLA plastic
  • items made of natural materials, such as bamboo or wood
  • novelty items that help create a green environment, such as a plant grown in a transparent container small enough to be a dangling decoration for a mobile phone, or seeds packaged in a tin

“The green concept is increasingly becoming a worldwide trend, thanks to government regulations and tax benefits, as well as companies’ wishes to build a good corporate image, discharge their social responsibilities and reduce damage to the world,” observed Ms Ha.

She said another rising category is “i-products”, such as bags, styluses, portable chargers and adaptors for iPhones and iPads. “We are seeing a technology craze, with 1.7 million iPhone 4 units sold within three days,” she noted. “As long as Apple continues to introduce new gadgets, related accessories will always be in demand.”

She added that currently popular corporate gifts comprise:

  • travel-related products
  • stationery
  • drinkware
  • portable tools
  • pens
  • outdoor products
  • electronics

Ms Ha said companies of different sizes and levels of renown should have different criteria for sourcing corporate gifts.

“For an SME, advertising is the purpose of premiums, which should therefore feature the firm’s logo, products or services and contact details such as enquiry hotlines and website addresses. It follows that the company should source corporate gifts that offer ample room for messages,” explained Ms Ha.

“For a well-known corporation, on the other hand, giving out premiums is a brand-building exercise. Only the company logo needs to be featured, and the premiums should be customised in such a way as to make the corporate brand stand out.”

The seminar also highlighted a growing phenomenon in the gifts sector — online shopping, particularly the group buying that is becoming increasingly popular worldwide.

“Consumers like the convenience, the lack of time or territorial limitations, the low prices and the wide variety of products that covers every aspect of daily life and is frequently updated,” said China Post E-Commerce Ltd CEO Billy Chan.

“As for manufacturers, online selling can significantly reduce marketing costs and such savings can be spent on R&D to improve product quality, which will further enhance the appeal of their offerings.”

He said online best-sellers are:

  • trendy products such as iPhone or iPad cases
  • audio-visual products such as headphones
  • houseware
  • gifts and premiums
  • food and beverages

“Group online buying is especially a growing trend as shoppers look for even bigger bargains. It is also a matter of herd mentality and word-of- mouth publicity,” explained Mr Chan.

“The result is that the consumer goods market is now led by web users, whose preferences and consumption patterns must therefore be considered in product development and marketing to ensure a new item will become a commercial success,” concluded Mr Chan.