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香港玩具制造商探索转型之路
Hong Kong struggles to retain crown as world’s king of toys

来源:FT中文网    2017-05-18 06:12



        Nearly 70 years after he produced Hong Kong’s first plastic duck, toy industry veteran LT Lam’s factories in China now churn out everything from Transformers to Play-Doh.        近70年前,林亮(LT Lam)制造了香港第一只塑料小黄鸭,如今他在中国内地的工厂大量生产各种玩具产品,从变形金刚(Transformer)到培乐多(Play-Doh)。
        But with costs rising in China and the industry fragmenting because of technological advances and changing consumer tastes, the 93-year-old worries that Hong Kong could lose its decades-long role at the heart of the global toy industry.        但伴随中国制造业成本上升,伴随技术进步和消费者偏好转变带来的产业碎片化,这位93岁的玩具界泰斗担心,香港可能失去其几十年居于全球玩具行业中心的地位。
        “We started with nothing but our 10 fingers and our fighting spirit,” he says. “I think we still have some good opportunities for the next five to 10 years, but the contract manufacturing business is declining.”        “我们创业时一无所有,只有双手和斗志,”他说,“我认为,未来5至10年,我们仍有一些好机会,但代工制造业务正在下滑。”
        Generations of children grew up in the 1970s and 1980s with “made in Hong Kong” toys, from Star Wars and GI Joe action figures to Rubiks Cubes and water pistols.        上世纪70和80年代,“香港制造”的玩具——从《星球大战》(Star Wars)和《特种部队》(GI Joe)中的战士玩偶到魔方和玩具喷水枪——陪伴了一代又一代儿童的成长。
        The manufacturing shifted to neighbouring Guangdong province in mainland China, where wages were substantially lower, from the early 1980s onwards.        从上世纪80年代初开始,玩具制造逐步转移至毗邻香港、但工资低得多的广东省。
        But Hong Kongers such as Mr Lam and Francis Choi, known as the “king of toys”, still control the Chinese factories that produce much of the output for global industry leaders such as Hasbro and Mattel.        但林亮、“玩具大王”蔡志明(Francis Choi)等香港人仍然控制着这些内地工厂,为孩之宝(Hasbro)、美泰(Mattel)等全球玩具行业领先企业加工大部分产品。
        Dominic Tam, president of the Toy Manufacturers Association of Hong Kong, estimates that about two-thirds of the world’s toys are made by Hong Kong companies operating in mainland China and employing hundreds of thousands of people.        香港玩具厂商会(Toy Manufacturers Association of Hong Kong)会长谭祖德(Dominic Tam)估计,全球约三分之二的玩具由在内地运营的香港公司制造,这些工厂总共雇用了数十万工人。
        The global toy industry is worth roughly $90bn, with sales in the biggest market, the US, of $20bn last year, according to NPD, a data analysis company.        根据数据分析公司NPD的数据,全球玩具行业价值约900亿美元,去年在全球最大市场美国的销售额达到200亿美元。
        Although sales have been growing at a rate of about 3 per cent a year since 2011, traditional Hong Kong toymakers such as Mr Lam’s Forward Winsome and Mr Choi’s Early Light Industrial remain under constant pressure.        虽然自2011年以来玩具销售一直以每年约3%的速度增长,但林亮的永和实业(Forward Winsome)、蔡志明的旭日实业(Early Light Industrial)等香港传统玩具制造商仍面临持续的压力。
        While low-cost Chinese rivals are snapping at their heels, their customers are squeezing profit margins and demanding more stringent safety and labour standards after a series of product recalls and worker maltreatment scandals in the past decade.        一边是内地低成本竞争对手迎头赶上,一边是客户挤压利润率,并在过去10年发生一系列产品召回及工人受虐待丑闻后,要求香港玩具制造商执行更严格的安全性和劳工标准。
        “Hong Kong companies have a reputation for strong business ethics and our international partners trust us to respect their intellectual property rights,” says John Tong, a factory owner and chairman of the Hong Kong Toys Council, another industry lobby group. “But there’s tremendous price pressure and the Chinese will catch up eventually.”        “香港公司在商业伦理方面有很好的声誉,我们的国际伙伴信任我们尊重他们的知识产权,”另一家行业游说组织香港玩具协会(Hong Kong Toys Council)主席、玩具企业家汤诚正(John Tong)说,“但价格压力巨大,内地企业最终将赶上。”
        Hong Kong toymakers are also suffering because of the increasingly short life cycle of products, mirroring the rise of the fast fashion sold by Zara and H&M. About a third of US toys are licensed products linked to hit Hollywood films, television shows or computer games.        香港玩具制造商也受到了产品生命周期越来越短(与Zara和H&M销售的快时尚服饰相仿)的影响。美国约三分之一的玩具都是与好莱坞大片、电视节目或电脑游戏相关的授权产品。
        But while older brands such as Star Wars and Transformers have maintained their buzz for decades, newer ones such as Frozen, Angry Birds and Finding Dory have a much shorter shelf life.        但是,虽然《星球大战》、《变形金刚》等老品牌几十年热度不减,但《冰雪奇缘》(Frozen)、《愤怒的小鸟》(Angry Birds)、寻找多莉(Finding Dory)等新品牌的生命周期却要短得多。
        “The popular licences rarely last longer than a few years because there’s too much choice,” says Mr Tong. “Frozen had a good two-year run but Pokémon only lived for three to six months and didn’t drive that many product sales.”        “流行的授权产品很少能持续几年,因为现在的选择太多了,”汤诚正说,“《冰雪奇缘》火爆了两年,而《口袋妖怪》(Pokémon)的热度只维持了3至6个月,而且并未带动多少产品销售。”
        A case in point is Playmates, a Hong Kong-listed company that makes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. It sales have soared and plummeted over recent years, depending on the movie release schedule.        一个恰当的例子是彩星集团有限公司(Playmates),这家香港上市的公司生产《忍者神龟》(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)动作玩偶。取决于电影上映的时间安排,该公司的销售额近年大起大落。
        The increasing use of smartphones and tablets represents another big challenge to the industry, especially for companies targeting those over six years of age, who are spending more time with electronic products.        智能手机和平板电脑越来越长时间被使用,是玩具行业面临的另一个重大挑战,尤其是对于面向6岁以上儿童的公司,如今这些儿童在电子产品上花的时间更多。
        Some Hong Kong companies such as VTech are responding by producing smart toys, for example simple laptops and smartwatches designed to promote early learning.        伟易达(VTech)等香港玩具制造商的应对之策是生产智能玩具,例如,旨在促进早教的简易笔记本电脑和智能手表。
        More traditional manufacturers such as Mr Lam, who still carries the mould of his first plastic duck with him, are sticking to what they know.        更为传统的制造商——例如仍随身携带第一只塑料小黄鸭模子的林亮——仍然坚持做自己拿手的产品。
        “There are several hundred million children in China and they can’t all play computer games,” says Mr Lam, who is launching a new version of his yellow plastic duck aimed at the Chinese market.        “中国有几亿儿童,他们不能都去玩电脑游戏,”林亮说,他正在针对内地市场推出一款新的塑料小黄鸭。
        But Mr Tong says the only sustainable future for Hong Kong toymakers is for them to move into branding and marketing rather than just contract manufacturing, following in the footsteps of the Japanese companies that dominated global toy exports before the 1970s.        但汤诚正表示,对香港玩具制造商而言,唯一可持续的未来是进行品牌运作和营销,而不能只做代工,要向上世纪70年代之前主导全球玩具出口的日本企业学习。
        “These Japanese companies now have great influence on culture worldwide,” he says. “In future, we can’t just produce for Lego, Mattel and Hasbro, we have to evolve.”        “如今,这些日本企业对全球文化有很大影响,”他说,“未来,我们不能只为乐高(Lego)、美泰和孩之宝代工,我们必须与时俱进。”
                
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