Brand-building key to Haojey's success in textile industry
By William C. Pao The China Post
May 9, 2005, 12:00 am TWN
Brand-building, or the art of establishing a brand that creates a strong impression on people's minds and induces loyalty among customers, has become an indispensable element in textile-making in Taiwan as the industry faces more competition from local and foreign manufacturers. Haojey Co. is one company that has succeeded in pushing its fiber products, marketed under the "Texcare" brand, to markets all over the world, especially Japan.
In the words of Louis Chen, chairman and CEO of Haojey, brand-building is the key to the success of the company, which has been competing in a market that many said was a "sunset industry," one that is characterized by dim hopes for a better future as manufacturers wage cut-throat price war on one another, resulting in a loss situation for all.
To Chen, there is no such thing as a "sunset industry," but only "sunset strategy." In his view, the strategy of making low-value products sold at inexpensive prices is no longer a viable one. Creating value for customers as well as the company by making innovative products, backed by solid research and development efforts, is the only way manufacturers can emerge victorious in a world of fierce competition, he said.
Haojey, founded in 1979, was one of Taiwan's first manufacturers of high-performance fibers. The company already gained first-mover advantage in the market by partnering with Japan's Asahi Kasei, which authorized Haojey to be its sole distributor of functional fibers under the Roica brand.
As time progressed, Haojey felt the need to expand its business and product lines as more and more competitors entered the field. That's where brand-building came in — the company decided to market its products under a brand that would eventually become synonymous with high-quality functional fibers.
"We can look at the success of some of the most famous Italian and French brand names, such as Louis Vuitton," Chen said. "These companies are part of a traditional industry, but you don't see them going away. Rather, they have become some of the most successful businesses in the fashion world and are growing stronger each year."
For Haojey, the process of brand-building was not an easy one, as Taiwan was at a disadvantage competing with multinationals from Europe, North America and Japan.
"We had to do a lot of publicity on print media, as well as take part in various trade shows," Chen recalled. "It was also hard for us as the brand registration fee was always very high."
But the company's efforts paid off in the end. Today Texcare products are distributed to various parts of the world. Garments made of Texcare fibers are especially popular in Japan, as consumers are drawn to their high quality and competitive prices, Chen said.
"Thanks to our effort, our margin has been able to stay relatively high, as compared to other companies in the industry," he said.
At a time when people put more emphasis on comfort and health of the clothes they wear, Texcare products are designed to suit those purposes, Chen said. Applications of Texcare fibers include sportswear, casual wear and inner wear.
Texcare's nano-silver antibacterial fiber is particularly of note as it enhances the comfort and durability of garments. The fiber is made with nano-technology, an advanced manufacturing technique also used in several other industries including IT, electronics, materials and automobile manufacturing. The fiber's antiseptic and moist-wicking features allow the absorption and expulsion of body sweat, and keep the consumer safe against infrared rays, ultraviolet rays and static electricity. The fiber is also equipped with anti-abrasion functions, allowing it to retain 99.99 percent of its antibacterial agent even after being washed for 50 times, Chen said.
Another product worth mentioning is Texcare's antibacterial cool and dry fiber, which contains an antibacterial agent that protects the skin from invasion by airborne bacteria. The synthetic fiber is moist-absorbing, perspiration-repelling and odor-resisting. Applications range from nightwear, underwear, uniforms to sportswear such as T-shirts and polo shirts.
Haojey also makes shoe lining for several world-famous brands, with Chen citing Nike and New Balance as some of its indirect clients.
All of the products are the results of solid research and development efforts, which the company has been paying special attention to as R&D can help a company lower cost and maximize yield rates.
"If you've got the R&D capability, you can basically take your operations anywhere in the world, be it India, Vietnam or mainland China, and make high-quality products from there," he said.
Haojey has a manufacturing facility in Touliou, Yunlin County. At this point the company does not have any plans to set up a factory on mainland China, given most of the company's products are sold outside China's domestic market, Chen said.