Enterprise Vol 3, 2010: Supplier Spotlight: Gifts & Premiums
Taking the name of a popular plant and food source to do business ensures people will easily remember the firm — a free bonus according to Alfalfa Ltd, which believes its business approach is as versatile as its namesake.
“In addition, the plant has healthy connotations that we believe match the safe, high-quality materials we use in our products,” says Managing Director Melin Ho.
“In general, our main line is electronic items that cater to the trends and demands of a modern lifestyle. They can be described as lifestyle gifts,” she adds.
From start-up, in 2002, the company won a top-of-the-line order for an excellent but tough market, Japan. “It was a baptism of fire, really, because we were serving a corporate customer that needed quality gifts and giveaway items and quality and delivery terms were very strict,” Ms Ho relates.
“We were supplying lots of licensed Doraemon fun figures on an OEM basis,” she continues. “We had to quickly learn to produce in an efficient and reliable manner.”
Thereafter, the firm traded on its good reputation and expanded into the Asia- Pacific region in general. “We also started specialising in design and producing original and innovative gadget-like products of our own in addition to OEM,” says Ms Ho.
“To differentiate ourselves, we looked to combine colours and functions to create products that would really delight our customers and reflect their particular lifestyles,” she adds. “We eventually built up confidence and clientele to the extent that we were ready to seriously enter the gifts and premiums sector and to market our designs and ideas worldwide.”
By 2007, Alfalfa felt it had gained the experience and confidence to launch into OBM and consequently introduced its own line of items bearing the Alfalfa brand name for export to Japan, Singapore, the UK, the US, Australia and Taiwan.
“In 2008 we joined a Hong Kong Trade Development Council sales mission to Hangzhou on the Chinese mainland, which provided the opportunity to break into that huge market,” says Ms Ho. “In the midst of the financial crisis in 2009, that move proved highly beneficial — so much so that we shifted our market focus and now deal strongly with mainland clients, subsequently attending trade fairs in Wuhan and Chongqing.”
Currently popular items include loudspeaker clocks, radios and items that contain pre-recorded nature sounds.
“In our travel goods range we have passport holders, luggage tags and mugs,” says Ms Ho. “We also do car accessories such as head cushions, seat belts, silicone car signs and tissue holders, while our general accessories line includes key chains, mobile phone straps, silicone stationery items and printed products.”
She also says that Alfalfa will continue to explore new business opportunities and markets. “We are opening our own retail outlets on the Chinese mainland, for example, and looking at ways to market in Eastern Europe.”
That said, the emphasis will continue on fresh designs incorporating ecologically friendly materials. “We are also keen to develop our range of travel accessories, car accessories and electronic plush products,” Ms Ho reveals.
With roots now well established, Alfalfa looks set to grow its business worldwide.
Text by Tony Henderson
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