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How HK-based Kee Wah used new media to keep an old brand relevant

Karlson Wong, Executive Director, Kee Wah

For Kee Wah, a 70-year old Chinese traditional bakery, the challenge is two-fold — keep the brand relevant to the new generation and be attractive to tourists in Hong Kong who are looking to buy traditional treats. Like any other outlet of its legacy, Kee Wah invests regularly in multi-channel marketing including print, TV, digital, and other tie-ups. But measuring the impact of these investments on consumer engagement is a big question – one that often plays on the mind of Karlson Wong, executive director of sales and marketing at Kee Wah. In a conversation with DMA, Wong speaks on how Kee Wah tackles this question and its overall digital marketing strategy.

How does a brand as old as you work to retain its freshness in modern times?
We are in an industry that is very competitive and the sales window for seasonal food is short. For Kee Wah, our goal is to make sure we are on top of the consumers’ mind during these periods. The major differentiator is the emotional connection between the Kee Wah and Chinese values and Hong Kong. Kee Wah stands for high quality and we pride ourselves with its ties with Hong Kong and Chinese values. Kee Wah invests in TV Commercials, print ads as well as social media to interact with its younger customer groups on a personal level.

What are some of the ways in which you interact with your consumers using digital platforms?
To grab the eyeballs of the today’s consumers, we deliver the product information regularly to the consumers with some interesting touches. For example, we design and work out different little online games to enhance the interaction with consumers. We also use light-hearted words/phrases in a friendly tone and manner to make it easier for consumers to understand. For instance, we have told the history of the traditional snacks including Winter Melon Pastries (Wife Cake), Chinese Sweet Crispy, Almond Biscuit and so on in an engaging way which has successfully captured the attention of the audience. In addition, whenever we receive the feedback from consumers, we respond as quickly as we can as every feedback is highly valued. Very often they will understand and appreciate our effort, and will continue to give us feedback which is a motivation in driving us to work harder and better in the future.

Would you like to elaborate on how digital has helped you to execute some innovative ideas that may have been difficult to do on other media?
The instant and convenient nature of digital makes it a very effective means in delivering our information to the next generation consumers by using different categories of social media channels. Look into the 13.1.4 case for example, ‘13.1.4’ – which is Jan 4, 2013 but shares the homonym with ‘(one love) one lifetime’ in Cantonese, and this special combination of numbers has always been a popular search on the internet. Young couples, as well as our potential consumers, are interested in this special date with this romantic meaning behind. We rode on the consumer recall of this date and started a campaign to call for entries of marriage proposals from young people, and we helped the winner to execute his/her proposal. We ran the campaign mainly using our Facebook Fans Page in addition to online advertising in mass, news and wedding portals to drive participation. The campaign was very well-received. We then hosted an event on the Valentine’s Day this year to celebrate with the winners of this campaign and share the idea of romantic love with the audience. In this case, the digital medium was very important to drive the campaign especially with the instant viewing/sharing functions to reach out to our target and invite them to participate and get engaged with the brand.

You have engaged Meltwater to track feedback on digital – how has this assisted you?
The digital media provides a broad spectrum for people to express their opinions via different platforms, e.g. Facebook, Weibo, forums, blogs etc. To better understand our consumers’ insight on our brand and learn more about their behaviour – especially the young generation – we implemented Meltwater’s digital media solution. In this way we could learn more about our consumers’ preferences and keep track of the latest market trend.

We were surprised to know that there have been a lot of mentions from the United States and Taiwan. It has been an important and efficient tool in providing social updates to us at a glance. The social media monitoring and in-depth data analytics helped us to have a deeper understanding of our consumers, which in turn helps us to create more effective marketing campaigns, as well as building deeper brand relationship across large communities to optimize real social media/campaign ROI.

What can be expected from your digital marketing strategy in the near future?
The digital world is evolving every minute. We would definitely continue to ride on digital, social and mobile media in the coming years as a key component in our marketing plans. Apart from standard advertising to create awareness, we will also continue to strive and explore new ways to build relationship with our digital savvy consumers, as it is very important to engage with them, hear their needs and react in a timely manner. In addition, it is a good way to let the public, particularly the young generation, to learn more about traditional Chinese bakery culture. Also, we would learn from the past campaigns to reflect and review on the areas which we can improve, so that we can learn more and better apply in the future marketing campaigns.

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