Sales / Marketing

Spice of life

by Karen Cheung

Clara Lo, marketing manager (Hong Kong and South China sauces), Amoy Food Limited
Photo: BJ

Checking on consumer tastes is a key factor in company's success

There are numerous contributory factors to the success of a product. For most companies, a good marketing strategy is to define and react to how well a product faces up to keen competition.

Amoy's award-winning Yeap Chai soy sauce is an excellent example of successful marketing strategies.

As the winner of Hong Kong's outstanding young marketing professional 2006, Clara Lo, marketing manager (Hong Kong and South China sauces) of Amoy Food Limited, has no doubt about the effectiveness of marketing.

"Soy sauce has long been regarded as a necessity, and therefore not much innovation had gone into the creation of new products," explains Ms Lo.

In a bid to break new ground, Amoy carries out extensive research. To gather information about consumer tastes, response and related reactions, the company uses researchers for home visits, conducts surveys, employs a hotline and arranges factory tours. Another customer yardstick is its close relationship with supermarkets and food retailers to check on product sales figures. Nearly 100 formulas were tried over the course of two years before the company settled on the ingredients and make-up of Yeap Chai soy sauce. Amoy then worked closely with an advertising agency to promote and package the new soy sauce as a luxury product. Associating the new product with artistic masterpieces in their marketing strategy, Amoy successfully took over the niche market, upgraded their image and sustained their leadership in the industry.

Recently, Amoy received two more marketing awards for this innovative product, namely the 16th Hong Kong print awards, packaging material printing (other materials) in 2005 and the HKMA/TVB marketing award in the same year.

Local perspective

Amoy was established in Fujian in 1908 and moved to Hong Kong in 1928. The company has stayed here since then to oversee the growth of its business and supervise and safeguard the quality of its products. Their present campaign slogan "Hong Kong taste, Hong Kong made" is easy to remember and employs a brand-building marketing strategy that invokes the customers' emotional attachment to their products.

"We take pride in being a food manufacturing company in Hong Kong," says Ms Lo. "Our factory remains in Hong Kong because we know the importance of understanding and catering for Hong Kong tastes. All our products, under the two main categories of sauces and frozen food, are made to suit local lifestyle."

Emphasis on innovation

Today, innovation has become a key in the company's success. Opinions are encouraged among staff and negotiation on different levels is seen as the way to move the business forward. The success of Yeap Chai soy sauce confirmed Amoy's emphasis on innovation and eagerness to try new things.

Career advancement is part of the company culture. Apart from attending various personal development courses and annual workshops on strategic thinking and business, high-potential staff can expand their horizons by joining Amoy's job rotation programme.

To be a successful marketer, a candidate must be proactive and have an open personality. It is important to be willing to try new things, to be creative and to have a clear goal. Willingness to learn and taking initiative to improve are important qualities that leaders of marketing teams would look for. "It's the personality that counts," Ms Lo stresses.

Winning ingredients

  • Extensive marketing research
  • Tight cooperation with advertising agency to promote and package new products
  • Brand-building marketing strategy invokes customers' emotional attachment to products

Taken from Career Times 16 March 2007
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