The latest paper releases come with eye-catching layouts, while electronic versions are equipped with functional add-ons.
China's suppliers of promotional calendars are employing cost-effective ways of increasing design differentiation. This comes as the major export markets exhibit price sensitivity, hindering the development of novelty forms.
For paper models, many companies are now emphasizing unique layouts on the calendar rather innovating on the shape, which costs more to develop. In addition, the traditional square and rectangle designs limit material wastage during prouction This trend is likewise seen in electronic calendars.
Instead of unconventional contours, new products come with additional features. These include temperature, humidity and time displays, AM/FM radios, projectors, alarms and LED flashlights. Large backlit screens are optional. Further, some companies are integrating MP3 players and USB ports.
Incorporating more functions entails a corresponding increase in outlay. A radio-controlled weather station raises costs by $1 to $1.50, while a backlight adds $0.80.
While all suppliers utilize ABS for housings, some employ recycled versions. Such types are less expensive, not as durable and inhibit detailed pattern application.
Nearly all makers of elecronic calendars have been experiencing lower overseas sales as a result of the global economic situation.
Although China customs does not track calendars independently, suppliers estimate that domestic output accounts for at least 60 and 30 percent of the printed and electronic models globally. Such releases take up the majority of production.
Printed paper models are available in wall, and standing and flat desktop configurations.
The first construction is usually made of high-quality art paper, which is stronger than alternatives and enables vivid images. Various material types are utilized, each suitable for a specific application.
Matte paper typically comes with a frosted effect. Double- and single-sided types are used for vivid and regular prints, respectively.
Regardless of the material, 1,000, 1,200 and 1,400g grayboard can be employed as backing.
Promotional wall calendars come in 120, 157, 200, 250, 300 and 350g variants. Of these, models made of paper weighing at least 157g allow direct pattern application without loss of quality.
Various design-placing methods are used. Offset and spot UV printing, gloss and matte coating, silver and gold hot-stamping, and creasing are among the most popular techniques.
Some companies also print the images on a superslim film that is fitted to wood-free paper. The latter costs less than art versions but requires higher outlay for image application.
Spiral, rectangle and garter are the typical binding options.
Standing desktop calendars are made of 200, 250 or 300g art paper with a kraft board backing. Seven- and 13-sheetsingle- or double-sided materials are employed. Film coatings add dust and water resistance, while photo paper can be used to impart vivid colors.
Models are offered in a range of sizes. Versions measuring 210x168 and 260x185mm are popular.
Flat desktop products utilize paper weighing 200g or less. As these are usually written on, film coating is not applied.
Prices of promotional paper calendars are determined by material characteristics, size, printing method and sales quantity. A 7-sheet wall model made of 157g art paper with a 4-color, offset-printed pattern is quoted at $1.10 and $0.42 for orders of 500 and 10,000 pieces. The dimensions are 285x400mm.
Measuring 420x570mm, the product goes for $1.91 and $0.74 for 500 and 10,000 calendars.
Prices are $3.38 and $1.29 for 500 and 10,000 items measuring 570x840mm.
Many standing desktop releases employ 7-sheet, single-sided art paper weighing 157g with offset printing and double-loop wire binding. Quotes for 500 and 3,000 pieces are $1 and $0.59 for a rack size of 210x220mm and 210x190mm paper.
Models with a 210x170 and 210x140mm rack and paper size go for $0.88 for 500 calendars. Orders of 3,000 items are at $0.51 each.
Standing desktop products with a 240x140 rack and 240x110mm paper are priced at $0.89 and $0.51 for 500 and 3,000 pieces.
In the first six months of 2010, quotes for paper calendars are expected to increase by 5 to 10 percent. This is mainly due to rising material, dye and labor costs. The decrease in order quantities is another factor.
For electronic models, prices are primarily determined by the material, size and functions.
The majority of China's electronic calendars range from $2 to $12 in price. Quotes are expected to go up in coming months, but not to the same degree as paper-based releases.
The majority of China's paper calendar manufacturers are printing specialists. Offset pattern application is the main service offered, although most companies now perform postproduction procedures such as packaging as well.
Books, paper bags, catalogs and brochures are also typically available from such makers.
More than 90 percent of paper calendar suppliers are private and locally owned, with the remaining SOEs. Foreign investment in the printed material industry is restricted by policies imposed by the government in China.
Small operations usually have a handful of workers and one or two machines. They only conduct offset design application and subcontract postproduction to temporary employees or other makers.
The staff at midsize companies is typically between 30 and 100, and the number of equipment is greater than at less-expansive counterparts.
Large factories have more than 100 workers and printing machines that generally offer superior output quality. The latter includes Heidelberg units from Germany, which impart vivid and lifelike colors while operating at high speed. These are valued at nearly $1 million each, making their purchase unfeasible for smaller suppliers.
Wenzhou and Yiwu in Zhejiang province are China's main production hubs for paper calendars, with a total of 1,000 manufacturers in the two cities. Small, midsize and large companies take up 50, 40 and 10 percent, respectively. Such conditions are expected to continue throughout 2010.
Small makers of electronic models typically have 10 to 50 workers. They outsource components and parts, and perform only assembly.
Midsize suppliers accomplish certain procedures such as plastic injection and PCB processing in-house. There are at least 100 workers.
Private, locally owned suppliers account for about 65 percent of China's electronic calendar industry. The main sourcing centers are Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan in Guangdong province.This article "Promotional calendars: Less-expensive methods differentiate designs" is originally posted in Global Sources.
Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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