News and Featured Articles
Reaching the ASEAN Market Gateway and Beyond
Published 10th September 2019
When exhibitors travel to the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF), they can expect to enter a gateway into the Asian region, especially the ASEAN countries.
During the 2019 show, MIFF celebrated its 25th anniversary – and it was one of the most significant shows in this international event’s history.
Exhibitors and buyers visiting MIFF got a closer look of the various types of materials and products that the Southeast Asian region offers, especially wooden and panel furniture.
The ASEAN region is also a growing market with retail sales projected to reach USD$1 trillion in 2018, according to Frost and Sullivan. The younger population is expected to contribute to the rising middle class, who will drive consumption towards an increase of 75 percent of GDP in 2025, up from 62 percent in 2010.*
Therefore, it’s no surprise that many exhibitors at MIFF have found it to be a place of accessibility and friendly connections, for newcomers and old-timers alike.
From Europe to the Asian gateway
For Colmol Bedding’s Vice President Andre Soares, the connections at MIFF have been significant. “We decided to initiate business in Asia, and knowing that MIFF is one of the most important fairs around, we contacted them to be a part of the exhibition,” he said.
Colmol – a Portuguese, second generation, family-owned business established in 1972 – finally made its way to Malaysia to attend MIFF 2019, thus beginning its journey of exploring connections as a first time MIFF exhibitor. “We were the only Europeans exhibiting this year,” added Mr. Soares.
Making strategic connections
After all these years of providing innovative mattresses of fine European quality, Colmol Bedding took a chance with MIFF, and their expectations were met. According to Mr. Soares, they achieved their main objective at MIFF, which was to make contacts from all over the world.
“We made contact with representatives from around 20 countries or more, from New Zealand to Mauritius Island, from Spain to the USA, and from England to South Korea,” he said. “It’s been good ever since MIFF, because we are in the stage of setting our first offers. That is the reason I am travelling now,” he explained.
One of the highlights of Colmol Bedding’s exhibition at MIFF was when Mr. Soares met up with American buyers. “It was our first time meeting up with these buyers and we had a chance to exchange many ideas. I’m pleased as we have a good possibility with the Americans,” he said of the buyers who had visited his booth during the four days of the exhibition. Interestingly, even though Colmol has a showroom/office in Las Vegas, USA, MIFF was, ironically, the meeting point for the European furniture company and buyers from the American continent.
His message, along with his mission at MIFF, was simple: “We want to deliver European quality with the best new technologies in excellent fabrics, the best foam and best spring pockets. In principle, we truly want to show the world that Portugal makes good quality products,” Mr. Soares said. At MIFF, he found the platform to do just that.
"Interestingly, even though Colmol has a showroom/office in Las Vegas, USA, MIFF was, ironically, the meeting point for the European furniture company and buyers from the American continent."
Business growth goals achieved
CV Beta Foam Industrial from Indonesia was also satisfied with its MIFF 2019 results. The company’s owner Mr. Kurniadi Gunawan said they secured about six orders, which spelled a 20 percent growth for their business.
Having been a participant every year since 2014, Beta Foam attended in 2019 with simple goals.
“We knew of MIFF from its advertising during a fair in Singapore, so we started participating in MIFF in 2014 . . . and each time, we try to participate in MIFF by looking at new expectations in business relationships.”
The Association of Indonesian Furniture and Handicraft Industries (HIMKI) estimated the value of Indonesia’s export of furniture in 2017 to be at USD$1.627 billion, making Indonesia one of the top producers of furniture in the ASEAN region.
“Since joining MIFF, we have experienced lots of benefits for our company – we can meet new buyers and have the opportunity to create new business relationships with other companies,”
- Mr. Kurniadi Gunawan
Owner, CV Beta Foam Industrial
Mr. Kurniadi, whose company manufactures various types of beds including sofa beds, folding beds, relax chairs, bunk and single beds, said: “MIFF is good for our business and we met our expectations by having orders from new buyers.”
In his sixth time at the fair, he shared how his company has grown from attending MIFF: “Since joining MIFF, we have experienced lots of benefits for our company – we can meet new buyers and have the opportunity to create new business relationships with other companies,” he said.
Easy access to materials and resources
Joining MIFF for the first time in 2019 as an exhibitor was Mr. Priyankara Basnayake, the director of Damro Exports, one of Sri Lanka’s largest furniture manufacturers. Taking time out from his busy schedule to chat with Furnish Now, he revealed that this was not his first time at MIFF. “We have been to MIFF in the past 10 to 15 years to source for suppliers,” he said.
According to Mr. Priyankara, MIFF was a good resource in his quest for furniture resources based in ASEAN countries, as well as others.
Taking their turn as an exhibitor this time around, they kept their outlook to a modest scale while being on the other side of the booth. “This year, we exhibited our particle boards. It is our first time exhibiting our products at MIFF. The response we got exceeded our expectations,” he shared.
Being present at MIFF meant building rapport with buyers and suppliers through the years. “To a certain extent, being at MIFF has helped us to connect with people from both around the ASEAN region and globally,” he shared.
Every year, Mr. Priyankara observed that MIFF has grown more organised with an increase in participants and visitors at each show.
“To a certain extent, being at MIFF has helped us to connect with people from both around the ASEAN region and globally,”
- Mr. Priyanka,
Director, Damro Exports
Exchange of ideas, knowledge and opportunities
It was Mrs. Hiromi Hamada’s first time at MIFF, although it was France Bed’s third time exhibiting at MIFF.
“It’s a very big exhibition and in a new building. It’s my first time here, but my colleagues who have exhibited here before said that this year was one of the best in terms of visitor turnouts. MIFF has certainly put a lot of efforts bringing in more buyers this year,” she shared.
It was also a time of crossing paths and discovering tastes and trends.
“We saw many people from abroad and we were very surprised to find out that folks from India really loved our massage beds and power mattresses. I was very fascinated that they liked the massage bed. For our innovative power mattresses, visitors from South Korea, the United States, China and many countries like our mattresses,” she continued.
“We have successfully established contacts with the locals, and were able to visit some Malaysian shops like bed shops and other companies, to talk about our furniture – and that was a really good thing,” said Mrs. Hamada.
One of the things she remembered most about MIFF was related to their exhibited product – “cool pillows” – which proved to be a big hit among visitors.
“It’s a very big exhibition and in a new building. It’s my first time here, but my colleagues who have exhibited here before said that this year was one of the best in terms of visitor turnouts. MIFF has certainly put a lot of efforts bringing in more buyers this year,”
- Mrs. Hiromi Hamada
Southeast Asian possibilities
“I would recommend MIFF for furniture exhibitors, as Malaysia’s location is central in Southeast Asia. It’s a good place to make a show, especially for people who want to reach out to the Southeast Asian market,” she said. France Beds’ products have been catering to the growing aging population in Japan and are reaching a new generation of consumers, particularly in the Asian region.
“Southeast Asians have power – in their outlook and in purchasing products. They are very motivated, active and of a younger generation,”
- Mrs. Hiromi Hamada
“I believe the Southeast Asian market is the best market,” she concluded.
*ASEAN RETAIL: Overview, Trends, and Outlook, with a focus on SGX-listed Companies http://www.sgx.com/retailcluster
|Read the full story at Furnish Now August 2019 Issue (pg 8)|