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Smart Touch

SmartHK, the first joint Hong Kong-Guangdong services promotion event on the mainland was held in Gu  
SmartHK, the first joint Hong Kong-Guangdong services promotion event on the mainland was held in Guangzhou in May  

“Innovation” and “industry upgrade” are synonymous with Conrad Pong’s firm  Hong Kong-based Spark Creative Communication, which exhibited at SmartHK at the Guangzhou Jinhan Exhibition Centre in May. His company had already built contacts with many Chinese mainland enterprises that have upgrading and innovation in mind.

One of them was Dongguan firm Kam Tat Lighting, which built a chandelier brand name with help from the Hong Kong company. With so many chandelier brands on the Dongguan market, there was a pressing need to stand out from the crowd, so Mr Pong created a deal that brought in global brand Swarovski to cement the product’s success.

Such services in brand management and design were very much in demand at the event, jointly organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and Guangdong Province’s Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation and the Guangdong branch of the China Council for Promotion of International Trade. 

About 220 Hong Kong services providers joined the showcase event, the largest mainland fair organised by the HKTDC to promote Hong Kong’s services and technology firms. The exhibition covered 20 services sectors in the areas of design innovation, technology advancement and marketing and management upgrade. 

Based on the number of on-site enquiries, “design and branding” was the most popular sector, accounting for 14.7 per cent of the total enquiries, from mostly mainland manufacturers, brand owners and retailers. 

A number of mainland enterprises visited all of the booths in the design and branding zone. Aside from comparing prices, mainland enterprises talked to each exhibitor, intent on sourcing a Hong Kong company to help them build their brands. Lengthy discussions were held between companies, covering comparisons of strength and possible synergies, with prospects for partnerships. 

Domestic Brands   

  Inspiration Design Studio met manufacturers eager to ride on government policies to help them develo

Inspiration Design Studio met manufacturers eager to ride on government policies to help them develop their own brands

Kelvin Wong, Creative Director of Hong Kong’s Inspiration Design Studio, said he was very satisfied with the two-day exhibition, noting that many mainland enterprises visiting his booth were potential new clients. Preliminary agreements were reached with several enterprises. Mr Wong said visitors to his booth were manufacturers hoping to ride on the upgrade opportunities offered by the Central Government’s 12th Five-Year Programme to develop their own brands for the domestic market. 

The trend for mainland manufacturers to switch from exports to domestic sales has generated huge demand for services, particularly in brand-building and developing sales networks. With major production experience and  confidence in the quality of their products, these manufacturers, however, often don’t possess their own brands. Thus, there is growing awareness among these manufacturers of the need to develop brands that suit the domestic market, creating demand for such services as brand-building, product name and management, trademark development, product promotion and shop design. 

Many mainland enterprises with strong production capacity lack sophisticated marketing capabilities, said Mr Wong. Companies, mostly garment and cosmetics enterprises, that enquired at Mr Wong’s booth didn’t know what questions to ask. It was noted that one-stop services from Hong Kong companies were particularly in demand, because they provide a range of expertise that mainland enterprises can coordinate with their own operations. 

Mr Wong said his company offers consultancy services to help identify enterprises’ product strengths, fix target markets and position their brands. For companies planning to open retail outlets, it offers such services as identifying the right cities and suitable locations for outlets, shop design and other operational expertise. 

“The tasks involved include trademark development, product design, image design, interior design for the shops, marketing and promotion and brand management,” said Mr Wong. “We can work with our peers on these jobs, as a single company may not be able to handle them all.” 

International Perspective   

  Before and after: Hong Kong’s Spark Creative Commmunications helped Dongguan-based Kam Tat Lighting
  Before and after: Hong Kong’s Spark Creative Commmunications helped Dongguan-based Kam Tat Lighting

Before and after: Hong Kong’s Spark Creative Commmunications helped Dongguan-based Kam Tat Lighting create a more international image to promote its brand

Mr Pong from Spark Creative Communication said he met businesses in the office equipment and household products sectors, which were also looking to develop their own brands. Many mainland manufacturers still prefer to commission a Hong Kong company to build and manage their brands, he said, because Hong Kong design firms have a broader perspective and are capable of developing international brand names.  

In the campaign it developed for the Dongguan firm, Kam Tat changed its chandelier brand name to Riserva to evoke the image of ancient Russian crystal chandeliers. This was later enhanced by co-branding with the world-renowned Swarovski. 

Two years later, Riserva has more than 70 specialist stores and even during the financial crisis, the brand maintained 25 per cent annual sales growth. Later, the company also invested Rmb10 million on TV commercials and hired film star Huang Xiaoming to endorse the brand. 

With Riserva expanding rapidly on the mainland, Spark Creative Communication appointed top mainland advertising firm Ye Maozhong to take over promotions across the country. Mr Pong noted that brand management is crucial, especially once the brand has returned to the custody of its owner. 

Digital Media  

iGen6 new Media specialises in digital-media promotion  

iGen6 new Media specialises in digital-media promotion

Advertising and promotional services also saw robust demand at the fair, with the use of new media a focus. Rex Ma, Managing Director of iGen6 New Media Company Ltd, said the event was an excellent platform for the company to showcase its strengths in digital media promotion. The company established contacts with new clients in Guangzhou and Shenzhen during the exhibition. 

Mr Ma said his company’s digital media services are built mainly on an integrated “six dimensional platform,” connecting clients’ websites with other common social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and so-called microblogs that are popular on the mainland. 

Mr Ma’s company also helps clients conduct opinion polls, implement marketing and promotion plans, as well as manage products online. The mainland’s vast territory and large population give digital promotion channels an effective lead in the marketplace, said Mr Ma. During the two-day exhibition, iGen6 New Media Company linked up with a number of new clients, including real estate and environmental protection technology firms, as well as so-called “old media” manufacturers of consumer products such as garments and leather shoes. 

For more details, please see the June issue of HKTDC Trade Quarterly, which can be ordered at http://bookshop.hktdc.com/.

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