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Spotlight on Consumer and Retail Trends at Fair Seminar
Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair Continues Through Thursday

29 April 2009 – Consumers in the United Kingdom have become more demanding when it comes to gifts and household products, according to Sarah Reeve, Editor of the UK trade publication Gift Focus Magazine. Ms Reeve was speaking yesterday at an HKTDC Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair seminar, "Outlook for the US and European Markets after the Financial Tsunami."

Consumers today are basing their buying decisions on stylish packaging, reasonable pricing, original design and eco-friendliness, Ms Reeve said. As for the market as a whole, she said that high-end products have been "badly affected" and that "a number of premium brands of long history are in difficult situation" in the UK.

As buyers have become more cautious, she said, suppliers must attract buyers with more creative design. They also need to respond to such current consumer interests as organic products, said Ms Reeve, noting that organic fashion and baby products are moving into the mainstream. Similarly, fair-trade-practice products can influence buying decisions, she added, while recycled paper items have considerable market potential.

Another area of growth potential is the food industry. Organic food products, especially those carrying the certification of the UK's leading environmental charity, Soil Association, are hot items, said Ms Reeve. A heightened emphasis on food is revitalising the "dine at home" culture in the UK, with a new generation returning to the kitchen. That, in turn, is fueling the sales of kitchenware and tableware and the growth of the "ten-pound shop" business in the UK, which targets impulse buyers.

Another speaker, Cinda Baxer, contributing editor of US trade magazine Gifts & Decorative Accessories, told the seminar audience that consumption has become necessity-driven. This, she said, is good news for household product sales. Consumers are repairing and upgrading their homes, boosting sales of paint and DIY household products. They are also eating at home more, a trend driving the upgrading and remodelling of kitchens.

In gift purchases, consumers are looking for eco-friendly greeting cards and bargain gift items, according to Ms Baxer. Smart household product design is also finding buyers. In the retail business, indie stores are gaining in popularity, according to Ms Baxer. These, she said, respond to the needs of consumers, hungry for social connections and interpersonal communication. Such stores, she emphasised, are easily able to adapt to changing circumstances and retail trends.

The 24th edition of the HKTDC Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair continues through 30 April at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This year's fair, the world's largest of its kind, is hosting a record 3,974 exhibitors from 38 countries and regions. The gift show is organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Exporters' Association.

Fair Website: www.hktdc.com/hkgiftspremiumfair

Media Enquiries
Please contact the HKTDC's Corporate Communication Department:

Victor George Paddy       Tel: (852) 2584 4517     Email: victor.paddy@hktdc.org

About the HKTDC
Established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers. With more than 40 offices worldwide, including 11 in the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and Asia. The HKTDC also organises trade fairs and business missions to connect companies with opportunities in Hong Kong and the mainland, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and online. For more information, www.hktdc.com

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