The 34th Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair and the 14th Hong Kong International Printing & Packaging Fair concluded on April 30. Over a four-day period, the concurrent fairs welcomed a total of about 67,000 attendees from 150 countries and regions, an increase of four percent compared to the previous year. Close to 50,000 buyers attended the Gifts & Premium Fair, while more than 17,000 visited the Printing & Packaging Fair.

“The Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Show is not only a great opportunity for suppliers to see the latest product offerings from factory partners in China, but also to assess the developments in production in emerging countries that are becoming increasingly important for sourcing,” says Mark Jenkins, MAS, managing director, promotional markets, at Pioneer Balloon, who attended the fair. “In addition to the products, displays, service offerings and overall marketing presented by the exhibitors, it is important to continually assess from both a sourcing and competitive standpoint.”

The Gifts & Premium Fair was organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, while the Printing & Packaging Fair was jointly organized by the HKTDC and CIEC Exhibition Co (HK) Ltd. at AsiaWorld-Expo. The HKTDC reports a double-digit increase in the number of buyers from emerging markets including Mainland China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, together with satisfactory growth in buyers from traditional markets such as Singapore, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the U.S.

This year's Gifts & Premium Fair featured 4,380 exhibitors from 31 countries and regions and featured various highlighted zones to facilitate sourcing. The Hall of Fine Designs gathered more than 140 brands to showcase a huge variety of gifts. With beauty and wellness products continuing to rise in popularity, and more frequently the products chosen by companies for corporate gifting, the Gifts & Premium Fair debuted the World of Beauty, Fitness and Well-being zone to offer products to meet this growing trend. The zone gathered nearly 50 exhibitors from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, India and New Zealand to exhibit products in this category. Other thematic zones included the World of Camping & Outdoor Goods, which was introduced at the fair last year; Advertising Gifts & Premium; Green Gifts; Tech Gifts; and the Startup zone.

This year's Hong Kong International Printing & Packaging Fair at AsiaWorld-Expo featured more than 500 exhibitors from six countries and regions, showcasing a diverse range of printing and packaging solutions. Multiple thematic zones were set up at the fair, including the new World of Advertising and Signs zone that featured different signs and advertising lightboxes to help enterprises enhance their brand image and awareness. The Green Printing & Packaging Solutions zone also returned, presenting a range of new and eco-friendly materials and solutions.

"To gauge industry players' views on market prospects and product trends, an independent survey commissioned by the HKTDC and conducted onsite during the Gifts & Premium Fair found that respondents are generally more optimistic about the market prospects for 2019 than those surveyed a year ago,” says Benjamin Chau, HKTDC deputy executive director. “Though uncertainties such as the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade negotiations, Brexit and global interest-rate developments cast a shadow over the world's economy, respondents are generally confident about market prospects and expect issues such as the trade negotiations and Brexit to have little impact on exports."

The onsite survey interviewed 928 exhibitors and buyers at the Gifts & Premium Fair and found that 89 percent of respondents expect overall sales to remain steady or increase in 2019. It reports that 51 percent of respondents expect production costs or sourcing costs to increase, yet 58 percent do not expect to raise "Free on Board" (FOB) selling prices or retail prices, suggesting they will not transfer additional costs to clients or consumers.

Respondents were also asked about what they expect to be the major challenges to their business this year. The top three challenges reported were an increase in operating costs (52 percent), fluctuations in the global economy (38 percent) and price fluctuations for raw materials (36 percent). Politically, the survey found that that major issues such as the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade negotiations and Brexit will have little impact on the sector's exports—53 percent of respondents said the current trade friction is not affecting their export performance and expect business to remain the same over the next six months. Regarding Brexit, 73 percent of respondents believe it will not affect their export performance over the next six months.

Regarding product trends, 20 percent of respondents expect advertising gifts and premiums to be the product category with the greatest growth potential, followed by tech gifts (19 percent), figurines and decorations (nine percent) and toys and sporting goods (nine percent).