,Hong Kong

Crystallize.Me shines as the crystal expert in China and Hong Kong

In Hong Kong and China, there is no other name best known for bringing exquisite pieces but Crystallize.Me. For over 40 years now, Crystallize.Me has proven its ability not only to provide top-notch crystal products, but also to innovate and re-invent itself to cope with the evolving customers and market conditions.

Raymond Chui, managing director of Crystallize.Me, says the past few years have not been easy to do business, but they never ceased looking for ways to stand out in the market and to prove to their customers that they are the best place to go to when looking for high-end crystal products.

In 2009, Chui realized that after many years in the Chinese market, they needed to up their game and push their brand forward. He hired a brand consultancy firm and spent one year to come up with an idea that will further establish Crystallize.Me as a brand-to-beat. “In the market, people know about our products but they probably don’t know that they are all from the same company. So rather having different products with different names in separate stores, we consolidated everything into one place called Bao Gallery in 2010 where customers can find everything we offer: crystal lighting, furniture, gifts, and jewelries,” said Chui.

Changing for the better
But while the Bao Gallery proved to be an excellent concept, there was no erasing the fact that the market has evolved and customers’ preferences and tastes have changed. This, on top of economic hurdles, pushed Chui and his team to innovate and think of creative ways to establish the Crystallize.Me brand further, considering that the last few years have not been easy especially for luxury products.

By 2011, crystal jewelry was taken out of the Bao Gallery and crystal art was brought in. “It was time to introduce a different segment of product into the market which I think the market was ready for – crystal art,” said Chui, adding that crystal art is an established market in Europe but relatively new in China because the Chinese are more into paintings, stone sculptures, wood carvings, and fabric.

By 2013, instead of having the same style for all Bao Galleries in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, they changed the concept to fit the local consumers in each of these markets. In Beijing, where consumers are looking for more luxurious items, Crystallize.Me launched the Bao Gallery Boutique. “It’s very up-market, stylish and hip. It carries the top-end of our products in Beijing - the best crystal art, best crystal lighting, and best crystal crafts,” noted Chui.

In Shanghai, where people are more price-conscious and seek good deals, Bao Galleries adopted an “outlet style” so they set up a gallery in Qing Pu where the outlet stores are. Meanwhile, Chui noted that Hong Kong is a more mature market in terms of brand awareness and style. Customers are looking for more bespoke items so they adopted a “soho” type of gallery. “It’s very chic and it’s in a more designer-friendly area.”

Apart from redesigning their galleries, Chui said they are also improving their expertise on crystal. “When we talk about man-made crystal, people always talk about lead content. Around 4-5 years ago, EU already banned leaded crystals. Now everyone is trying to develop a lead-free crystal. Crystallize.Me is working with a group of optic scientists to develop our own ultra-brilliant, lead-free crystal glass and we already produce them in small quantities. We are talking with some investors who can help us push this into a brilliant multi-dollar project," said Chui.

The key to success
When asked about what kept Crystallize.Me successful over the years despite all the challenges in the market, Chui was quick to recognize that all the achievements would not have been possible if not for his dedicated team. “As the owner/manager of the company, I also have to make many decisions. Now I learn to delegate a lot more things to my team and try to explore their ideas. I have to stand back from the front line and have my team take over,” he added.

Chui said he became the back-end support and it was a very important move especially this year. “Whoever is in charge makes the final decisions. I offer advice and support but they make the final decision. It has proven to me that some of the good decisions that they made are right for that time.”

Apart from human resource strategies, Chui admitted that they also had to make a lot of adjustments in terms of their products and pricing, but they made sure that quality was not compromised.

“We had to be more sensitive to more real, high quality stuff. We had to work extremely hard not only to prove ourselves to our customers but also to our suppliers. We had to find more unique things but still offer the best prices,” said Chui.

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