FilmTack Exec Shares Details of the Asian Film MarketMay 2nd, 2018 by Casey Flores
Window Film magazine’s Casey Flores traveled to Singapore recently and spoke to FilmTack, a window film distribution company headquartered there, which focuses on Southeast Asia. Flores spoke to KH Poon, manager, about many of the differences in the U.S. and Asian window film markets. Poon also serves as the head of Maxpro’s Asia Pacific distributorship.
WF: What is your history in film distribution?
Poon: FilmTack has been distributing window films to several reputable private labels in our industry since 1980.
WF: What countries do you represent?
Poon: About 65 percent of our sales are within Asia and Australia. We have also some exposure to U.S., Nordic and Middle East markets.
WF: How does the window film market in Asia differ from the USA?
Poon: Interestingly, the biggest difference between U.S. and Asian window film markets, is the application of U.S. architectural tints with pressure sensitive adhesive on Asian vehicles.
WF: How do American private labelers break into the Asian market?
Poon: Asian private labels are more price-competitive than U.S. brands. The cheapest U.S. manufacturer brand and private label did not succeed in Asia. U.S. brands should remain focused on quality and heat-reduction performance.
Due to front-windshield tinting, the optical-clarity requirements are higher in the Asian market.
Finally, interaction is essential in Asian culture, as there is no equivalent WFCT conference in Asia, Asian tinters are very enthusiastic about attending such events to improve their product knowledge and it creates brand-loyalty among the attendees.
WF: How do regulations come into play in Asia?
Poon: Tint regulations for automotive tinting exist in most Asia-Pacific territories. These are the five primary models:
- Complete ban in automotive tinting, ex., India;
- Tinting allowed for vehicle glass, except front windshield, ex., most Australian states;
- Tinting regulations in place and strictly enforced, ex. Singapore;
- Tinting regulations in place but rarely enforced; and
- Exemptions for medical reasons and politically-exposed persons.
WF: What is the area of most growth potential? Is it architectural?
Poon: Architectural tinting growth will continue to be hindered by the glass industry. The application of window films voids most glass-warranties on new buildings, restricting our products to retrofit projects. In addition, green-building codes in major cities do not recognize window films’ energy saving capabilities.
Currently, color-stable automotive films are enjoying strong growth in our industry. While window films eventually fade under prolonged exposure to elements of the weather, these films provides longer fading durability and are less likely to turn purple after fading. The new formulas are more versatile; allowing application on dyed solutions, dyed chips or laminating adhesives. Improved uniformity in pigment particle-sizes has also allowed manufacturers to reduce hue and haze level.
WF: Are U.S. manufacturers shipping the same film they make for the U.S. market to Asia or do they alter them?
Poon: Respectable U.S. manufacturers supply the same tint standards for Asia. In fact, optical clarity is a greater concern in Asia than the U.S. because most Asia markets tint on the front-windshields.
WF: What’s the trade deficit of window film from the U.S. to Asia if any?
Poon: Trade data from trade platforms such as Panjiva and Import Genius are less meaningful to industry insiders because a lot of Asian films exported to the U.S. are eventually re-exported to Latin and South America. We can only conclude that in terms of actual usage, more U.S. films are used in Asia, than vice-versa.
WF: How does the glass in Asia differ from that in the USA?
Poon: For architectural tinting, low-E/double-glazed glass are more popular in the U.S. than Asia. As a result, U.S. tinters tend to have better understanding of film-to-glass knowledge/charts.
For automotive tinting, more Japanese-brand vehicles (sold in Asia) are pre-fitted with a heat and UV reduction coating on the interior of the glass. Therefore, Asian tinters have greater awareness on the identification of such glass coatings (which will be damaged during film replacements).
WF: Regarding the potential tariffs on Chinese and U.S. window films, how will that affect the market and film manufacturers?
Poon: This is a very good question. I have been monitoring the list of bilateral trade tariffs proposed by the U.S. and China. At this moment, the HS-Code (product type) for window film is largely spared but a similar sub-group referring “self-adhesive” plastics has been flagged.
- Any tariff on Chinese films by the U.S., is not expected to have any material impact on U.S. tint shops because the U.S. is very much self-sufficient in window films and South Korea sells more window films to the continental U.S. than China.
- If there are any pre-emptive tariffs on U.S. films by China, some reputable U.S. brands already have plans in place to supply Asian-made films under their labels to avoid these tariffs legally.
WF: How much does the film industry grow per year in Asia? What is the percentage?
Poon: I spoke to a few car manufacturers in Asia. The market is bottoming but any upside is likely to be subdued. In the worst case scenario, car sales are not expected to decline by more than 5 percent in 2018. This year, our outlook is generally in line with published reports.
WF: Is PPF popular in Asia?
Poon: PPF popularity is picking up in Asia but the market is constantly plagued by yellowing issues. Labor cost is a huge component in the final price that consumer paid for PPF. As such, Asian consumers tend to prefer U.S. labels as the difference in material costs between U.S. and Asian PPF are not high in the final price that they pay as a consumer. Therefore, it is difficult to succeed in PPF business without a reputable brand.