Main Feature Marketing APAC

MARKETECH APAC’s Top 5 Stories for July: Asian food delivery’s new offering bags top spot

For the month of July, the Southeast Asia region once again snitches the spotlight with stories ranging from K-pop research, a fast-food chain’s case study, to an app that aims to cater to a country’s long-standing culture in trading. 

This period, we see a very interesting study that has put an official percentage of how much a brand can benefit from web searches upon roping in K-pop group BTS as an endorser. Food delivery is also a highlight this month, with a leading food delivery platform in Asia launching a new offer, and a fast-food brand in Malaysia releasing its case study on a successful 2020 campaign that helped save its delivery business in the face of home cooking-loving consumers. 

In the Philippines, we see a live-streaming platform unveiling an ex-Gojek exec as one of its new heads, and from the same country as well as a top story on a commerce enabler that aims to bring digitization to a traditional type of minimart that has been around in the country for years. 

With rankings based on Google Analytics for the period of 16th June to 15th July, here are the brands that had you turning with a second look.

Top 5: BTS ambassadorships can boost brand searches by up to 50%, iPrice study shows

Celebrities have undoubtedly been the primary faces of brands, and the new wave of K-pop groups and personalities have just turned to be the novel key to impactfully lift their awareness among consumers. In particular, global superstars BTS; In their multiple stints as global and regional ambassadors, it is no wonder how the latest data from e-commerce aggregator iPrice shows the sheer impact BTS can have on brands when tapping the group as their brand ambassadors.

According to their data, search results for brands can jump up to 50% after signing on BTS as their ambassador, which has long been evident across brands three years ago when the prominence of K-pop brand ambassadors started to materialize.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Isabelle Romualdez, senior content marketing executive at iPrice stated that such affiliation can drive up web traffic of the websites of these brands, which can eventually help drive up their sales online. 

She also added that ‘BTS’ influence is so strong that they create a lot of ‘noise’ on social media.’

Citing the campaign for global fast-food chain McDonald’s, for instance, she notes that in Vietnam, the fast-food chain was able to sell 10,000 BTS Meals in one day, and that in the Philippines, they were able to sell 3.5 million pieces of chicken nuggets on the day of the launch.

The best possible outcome for brands which I think is also how BTS affects them is that their partnership [with them] can increase their sales. BTS fans are really devoted, they really spend on their merch. They spend around US$1,400 for their merch, tickets, and other things. And so for them to line up and spend for a special meal or product, it’s really no big deal for them.

Asked about what smaller brands can do who might not be able to afford to partner K-pop personalities, she states this:

“One of the challenges for these smaller brands is that they can’t afford big brand ambassadors, so they have this responsibility to be creative with their campaigns but they can still achieve as much success if they create creative campaigns. Another way is to create content that interests the K-pop fanbase, [such as] talking about their behavior.”

Top 4: Former Gojek growth leader Crystal Widjaja joins kumu as new chief product officer

Filipino live-streaming platform, kumu, has appointed the former chief of staff and senior vice president of growth at Indonesia’s Gojek, Crystal Widjaja, to now assume the role of chief product officer.

MARKETECH APAC conversed with Widjaja to know more about what kumu products she is looking to develop and prioritize.

“We need to start building out products that really do unlock experiences, better than online and offline experiences,” said Widjaja in the interview.

Widjaja shared that the platform will be developing its creator base, building out the best creator tools so that content creators can host game shows, create amazing vlogs, and have fun, among others.

“I think what’s really important is to actually build an enablement platform, where people who want to be a community builder and to engage one another have the tools and [apps] to do that,” she said.

The core of kumu is beyond just a social network for content creators. It really is a social participatory network, and that means we are highly engaging and we allow users to reward one another.

Widjaja will be leveraging her extensive experience in helping startups with growth, data, and strategy, as well as bolstering the platform’s overall product strategy. 

In the same interview, Widjaja bared that building kumu has always been about creating opportunities for people to create their small social spaces and a safe environment, one where they can be themselves with people they admire.

Top 3: KFC turned every Malaysian Kitchen into a KEPCI Kitchen

At the start of the Covid in 2020, fast food brand KFC in Malaysia was faced with a dilemma – how does it maintain its delivery business, when consumers, even despite its initial surge, had easily grown tired of ordering take-out? In trying to find a solution, KFC soon found it was not other QSR brands that were the enemy, but the newfound love of home cooking. 

In partnership with digital creative agency Reprise, KFC released the campaign KEPCI Kitchen based on this insight, and turned the present trend in their favor – building the excitement of Malaysians to repurpose KFC items in their personal recipes, and therefore, turning their kitchen into a KEPCI kitchen. 

Due to a highly engaging integrated campaign which included a dedicated ‘KFC’ cookbook, consistent recipe sharing on Instagram, and also a sponsored cooking show, the campaign soon achieved its target and even more. 

In an exclusive chat with KFC Malaysia’s CEO Chan May Ling and Reprise’s Creative Director Eddy Nazarullah, the two both chalked it up to great teamwork and relationship between the brand and agency. 

“I think the lovely thing about this case study, I think, is the client-agency partnership, and how fast the team reacted because nobody knew how to react during a lockdown,” Chan said.

“[We’re] very close to our agency partner to uncover the insight and to have a common agreement on how we want to build the brand, and how we want to engage, and I think that’s very important in a relationship; and that’s how it sparked,” she added.

I think what’s key is the collaboration between KFC and [Reprise]. It’s the agency and client relationship that’s definitely made this happen. For us to achieve this, it’s definitely something we can’t do alone, and we definitely need the support from the team.

Nazarullah echoing Chan’s statement

Top 2: PH commerce enabler GrowSari secures US$30m funding for operation expansion

Philippine-borne business-to-business commerce enabler GrowSari has announced that the company has secured more than US$30m in funding from various companies and venture capitals, which include Gokongwei-led listed Philippine retailer Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. (RRHI) and JG Digital Equity Ventures, as well as Wavemaker Partners.

Other funding participants include Pavilion Capital, Tencent, Saison Capital, ICCP SBI Venture Partners, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which is a member of the World Bank Group.

For GrowSari, said funding will help fuel the company’s vision of tapping into sari-sari stores, the Filipino version of neighborhood mom-and-pop stores, which according to GrowSari, has the potential to be the biggest and most accessible distribution channel in the Philippines through driving efficiencies in route planning while collecting valuable insights on store behavior.

In an interview with MARKETECH APAC, Maimai Punzalan, chief marketing officer at GrowSari stated aside from creating more offerings and establishing bigger suppliers and market supply for their clients, they envision expanding from their current 50,000 store base across 100 municipalities in mainland Luzon to around 300,000 store bases in the next two years.

She also added that as they started GrowSari in the first place, there were two things that they needed to address in order to aid these sari-sari store owners: access to affordable goods and assortment of goods, ranging from dry goods to basic necessities. Such aspirations stem from the company’s observation of the current status quo of these local neighborhood stores in the country.

We recognize that the sari-sari store segment is such, maybe an underserved channel for the Philippines, despite it’s serving [about] 84% of Filipinos [who] would shop in a sari-sari store, and it makes it relevant for all of the Filipinos out there. There are about 1 million sari-sari stores spread across the archipelago. I think what’s tough for them though is despite being so important to the lives of the Filipino people, they’re barely making enough really to keep running their business.

GrowSari outfits Philippine sari-sari store owners with inventory, infrastructure, and tools to manage and grow their business while generating crucial data and market insights for manufacturers and distributors.

Top 1: foodpanda ties up with Unilever to now deliver on-demand ice cream products

For our top story for the month, we have the leading food delivery platform in Asia, foodpanda, and its recent partnership with Unilever. The digital change for all economies continues to accelerate, especially now that new consumers migrate online for shopping due to the pandemic, and with this, quick-commerce – the super fast delivery of anything to customers in under one hour or often much faster – is becoming the standard of service.

Unilever and foodpanda’s team-up is aimed at offering 24/7 on-demand ice cream deliveries through foodpanda shops and pandamart – foodpanda’s cloud grocery network. This move targets to reach a wider customer base via foodpanda’s q-commerce across Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, as well as Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Abhishek Sahay, foodpanda’s senior director of new business, said, “We did find speed as one of the customer insights that [really] people want, and it wasn’t just food deliveries but in every aspect of life. They are becoming much more used to on-demand stuff.”

He adds that the intention behind q-commerce is to provide speed and choice for customers.

Aside from delivering a variety of ice cream, the partnership also includes new product launches, bundle deals, and promotional campaigns, as well as optimized digital advertising and customer engagement on the platform, such as strategic placements of digital banners on the platform, the creative use of in-app notifications, and campaigns on social media.

We are no longer just a food delivery company. We are expanding into new verticals. In terms of future plans, we definitely have a long way to go, specifically on quick commerce. And as we think of expansion, we have three different ways. One is we want more and more stores. Secondly, we think of new country expansion, launching in Japan, Cambodia, and Myanmar. And the third is category expansion,” said Sahay, regarding foodpanda’s future plans.

Watch our live interviews with the newsmakers themselves on the latest episode of MARKETECH APAC Reports, live on our YouTube channel.

This is in collaboration with Malaysia-based media company The Full Frontal.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

KEPCI KITCHEN: How KFC turned every Malaysian kitchen into a KFC kitchen

The start of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns brought Malaysians lives to a hold. Contained at home, Malaysians were cooking more at home and ordering less delivery. This posed a challenge to quick-service restaurants like KFC who had difficulty sustaining growth as a delivery brand. However, a new pandemic trend was fast on the rise, and that people were looking at their kitchens to provide them with a sense of fulfillment.

This is what Reprise, Mediabrands’ digital creative agency in Malaysia, realized. The pandemic was a chance to showcase culinary skills to friends and family and connect with the world outside. Reprise took the idea to fuel this creativity by offering KFC as an ingredient!

With KEPCI KITCHEN, Reprise turned Malaysian Kitchens into KFC Kitchens, built digital cookbooks, helped Instagram chefs display creativity, and in the process became much more popular as a delivery brand.

Malaysians asked, “How long can we keep ordering food on delivery?”

The initial Movement Control Order (MCO) saw all brands growing delivery sales, with KFC seeing an uplift of +49% in just one month. This peak soon plateaued as Malaysians asked themselves amid fears of job loss and uncertainty – how long can we keep ordering food on delivery?

The new enemy of QSR came in the form of home cooking! Malaysian households found themselves tightening their wallets and prioritizing essentials over delivery services. The country started seeing a gradual shift towards cheaper and healthier options with cooking at home. A study conducted at the end of March 2020 indicated that 62% of Malaysians said they were more inclined to cook at home.

The Challenge: How could KFC sustain business & delivery growth? KFC has a long-standing reputation as being a family brand. To sustain KFC’s growth via delivery, the fast-food chain had to make sure that its biggest fans – families – kept on ordering from them.

Our low-hanging fruit: Families. As a family brand, these were KFC’s natural audiences. Instead of cooking a meal for the entire family, KFC wanted to offer them a convenient and affordable option in KFC’s shareable buckets. However, along with sustaining momentum, the restaurant had to grow. For this, it needed to connect with the largest group of fast-food consumers in Malaysia.

Teens & Young Adults – the new territory for growth. This was the high-value market. They ordered more frequently, with a higher-order value per person. Reprise looked to see how KFC could drive offers on individual meals and cater to this audience, amid dominance from other QSR players.

The Objective: Getting a foot in the door to achieve 3 things

With the Campaign, KFC aims to achieve three things. Even amid the rising trend in home cooking, the brand’s objective is to make more people order KFC Delivery: to double the incidence and volume share of the delivery channel within its touchpoints within 3 months.

Second, it eyes to make KFC more popular in the delivery market by achieving two things: a.) growing the “Most Often Used Brand” by 50%, and b.) growing the “Brand Ever Used” by 50%.

Lastly, KFC wants teens & young adults to switch to KFC by increasing teens & young adults’ visitations for delivery by +10%.

One of the biggest challenges for KFC and Reprise is how could the KFC brand simultaneously connect with two separate audiences – its stronghold of families and the avenue for growth with teens/ young adults. Reprise realized that it could not convince such a large segment to change their minds, nor take on a mammoth enemy like home cooking.

Campaign Strategy & Insights

An interesting trend Reprise observed was that social media shares were increasingly devoted to “Lockdown Cooking”. Globally, everyone was keen on showing their innovative results in kitchens – be it Dalgona coffee or sourdough bread. As millions of people were deprived of regular jobs, curbed with available activities, and a limited social life, they felt useless and non-productive. That is where the kitchen came in!

The Cultural Insight

A period of non-productivity had become a time for creativity. Kitchen Creativity was fueling a way for millions of people globally to feel productive, purposeful, and fulfilled. Amid this excitement to create, Reprise asked themelves: how could KFC contribute to this game of Kitchen Creativity?

Our strategy: Repurpose KFC’s product from a fully prepared meal to an INGREDIENT

KEPCI KITCHEN: Turning every Malaysian kitchen into a KFC kitchen

Campaign Execution

Reprise’s premise was simple: Encourage Malaysians to order KFC Delivery by showing them how to use their KFC favorites more creatively through simple and convenient recipes for the family, and menu hacks for teens & young adults.

Launch: Introducing the Kepci Kitchen Instagram stories cookbook

We kicked off the campaign with the launch of our first six recipes that catered directly to the different MCO personalities – For the lazy one-pot cooks all chef; For the enlightened health & fitness junkie; For the gamer, the Netflix binger; For the one that misses the mamak; For the one that misses the warung (simple suburban café); For the one that misses ‘atas’ (upmarket) western joints.

During the early stages of lockdown, local and international campaigns showed many similarities. We saw a growing trend of cooking at home and were inspired by menus that were crafted to fit into Instagram stories. Tapping into this trend, we kept the approach both natural and grounded. Malaysians are known to be great foodies and this campaign allowed them to unleash their creativity and connect with one another through these unprecedented times.

Amir Faiz, Group Creative Director, Reprise Digital

All recipes were uploaded onto the KFC Instagram account, and stored in our highlights bar to create a digital cookbook shelf where Malaysians could browse and screencap our recipes, just like a real cookbook. From the get-go, we ensured that all recipes were easy to make with accessible and simple ingredients (due to MCO restrictions) while also championing our core favorites.

A PDF of the compiled recipes, presented as a cookbook, was also hosted on the KFC website

Amplification: Self-made, self-taught Instagram chefs

Reprise and KFC worked with Instagram chefs & foodies to create a new set of recipes that were broken down into three categories: big eats (5-6 pax, family sharing), mid eats (2-3 pax), and individual eats. This was to ensure that our two key audience groups could relate to KFC’s diverse body of recipes, providing an endless stream of ideas to remix their KFC orders.

A selection of influencers was carefully selected to appeal to the audience. Each of their postings had a clear CTA to purchase products featured and promoted KFC’s free delivery code.

Reaching a wider audience on TV

To extend KFC’s reach to its core audience and align with the increase in TV viewership in April, KFC embarked on a four-episode sponsorship with the TV3 program “Dari Dapur Saya Ke Dapur Anda” (From my kitchen to yours). All episodes were also uploaded on TV3’s YouTube, Instagram and Facebook page which broadcasted the series to a collective base of 8 million social followers & subscribers. With the cooking show being led by a well-known local influencer Sharifah Shahirah cooking up Ramadan recipes.

Not only did KFC repurpose its product, but Reprise found an innovative way to ride on Malaysia’s desire to cook at home, creating new occasions and new ways of consuming KFC. Thus, Reprise found its strategy to combat Malaysia’s newfound desire for home meals!

The lockdown has shown us tremendous opportunities for brands in the digital space. At a time where life as we knew it came to a stop, it is definitely inspiring to showcase how nothing could stop creativity. It proves that an honest, down-to-earth creative solution can connect in such a meaningful way with Malaysians. The results were beyond our wildest expectations!

Eddy Nazarullah, Creative Director, Reprise Digital

Results & Achievements

Reprise and KFC’s crusade to turn every Malaysian kitchen into a Kepci Kitchen exceeded all expectations. For its first objective of making more people order KFC Delivery, it was able to overshoot its targets by a mile with KFC’s incidence growing 15x while volume share growing 11x.

It was also able to hit its second objective which is to Make KFC more popular in the delivery market. According to Reprise, results were beyond the team’s wildest expectations. “Brand ever used” grew by 65% while “Most often brand” grew by 80%.

Lastly, it was able to get teens & young adults to switch to KFC. Teens visitations increased by +19%, while KFC’s competitor dropped a staggering -76%. A similar trend was also observed among young adults which grew by +24% but dropped by -68% for KFC’s competitor.

Kepci Kitchen won the hearts, minds, and stomachs of families, foodies, millennials, and celebrities alike. We were amazed by the noise and how it drove results, and this is solid proof of the agility of the agency partners and KFC team working hand in hand to adapt to the challenging circumstances. Its proof that despite adversity, we’re still able to find gems of inspiration.

Chan May Ling, Chief Marketing Officer of KFC

The campaign period ran from 2 April – 2 June, 2020.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Pesta Game, MY’s first-ever ‘virtual sports day’, to be hosted by YouTube

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The Malaysian arm of streaming platform giant YouTube is hosting the Pesta Game 2021, a first ‘Hari Sukan’ or sport’s day hosted within a virtual platform. 

The event is a direct inspiration from last year’s status of the online gaming community, as the YouTube gaming community has garnered over 100 billion watch time hours clocked across a whopping 40 million active gaming channels worldwide.

Players will come from Malaysia’s YouTube top content creators and with participation from the YouTube audience, and will be supported by partnerships with esports portal MyGameOn and video game entertainment site IGN Southeast Asia. The event will feature games, including puzzle game ‘Keep Talking, Nobody Explodes’, multiplayer royale games ‘Valorant’ and ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)’, and soccer video game FIFA 2021.

“Gaming has always been an important part of the Malaysian YouTube community, and there’s certainly no better time to game than the present. Pesta Game allows us to get together safely from the comfort of our homes and be immersively entertained by countless gaming live streams featuring Malaysia’s favorite Creators on YouTube across mobile devices, desktops, and connected TVs,” said Ben Jern, head of YouTube Malaysia.

The event also sees a partnership with fast-food chain KFC and with Samsung A51 | A71.

“We are thrilled to be part of an event that celebrates the community of e-sports talents we have in Malaysia, while supporting the importance of gaming as a sport. We are committed to making an awesome gaming experience accessible while ensuring seamless connectivity and performance through the Galaxy A series, and with events such as this, can meaningful innovation be realized,” Edward Han, president of Samsung Malaysia Electronics commented.

A spokesperson for KFC said, “KFC is excited to partner with Google for Malaysia’s 1st virtual ‘Hari Sukan’. As the nation’s favorite fried chicken, KFC is happy to level up Pesta Game with freshly made and delicious KFC – perfect for this innovative, vibrant and energetic event! With all the happenings around the country, Pesta Game presents a perfect outlet for YouTube creators and audience to have fun, enjoy great food, and simultaneously connect with each other virtually and safely.”

The Pesta Games will be livestreamed January 30th and 31st and in Bahasa Malaysia across some of Malaysia’s biggest YouTube channels, from Media Prima’s Drama Sangat, NTV7, TV3, and TV9 channels, to individual channels of creators participating in the games: Athisha Khan, Dumpling Soda, Fuzz Channel, Isaac Osman, Syedot ASMR, and Wiser MY.

Marketing Featured East Asia

KFC and Pizza Hut launch plastic reduction initiatives in China

Shanghai, China – Restaurant company Yum China has announced the launch of a new plastic reduction initiative across its KFC and Pizza Hut branches in China, in response to new environmental regulations in the country.

The latest campaign is expected to reduce approximately 8,000 tons of non-degradable plastics annually starting from 2021, replacing traditional plastic packaging with paper straws, paper bags, and biodegradable plastic bags.

With KFC, the brand’s campaign under the initiative is launched as the “Be Natural, Be You” sustainability campaign, raising consumers’ awareness of environmental protection by encouraging sustainable practices. Beginning this year, KFC chains across China  will stop using plastic straws and over 90% of KFC restaurants will be replacing disposable plastic cutlery with wooden cutlery. By 2025, it is expected that all plastic packaging and cutlery will be phased out across KFC restaurants  in China.

Biodegradable Cutlery
(Left) KFC biodegradable packaging and cutlery, (Right) Pizza Hut biodegradable packaging and cutlery

Meanwhile, Pizza Hut has already phased out the use of plastic straws across their branches in the country by the end of 2020, while over 70% of Pizza Hut restaurants across the country have replaced existing plastic bags with paper bags or biodegradable plastic bags. By 2022, Pizza Hut will be phasing out the use of plastic bags in the branches in China.

“The new plastic reduction initiatives reinforce our sustainability strategy to drive meaningful change through packaging innovation and reduction. In line with our long-term commitment of supporting economic, social and environmental development, we are committed to working with customers, partners, and all other stakeholders to promote a more sustainable future,” said Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China

Marketing Featured East Asia

Pizza Hut, KFC in HK launches co-op pizza with mobile game to boot

Hong Kong – The newest pizza from Pizza Hut in Hong Kong incorporates another fast food favorite: KFC’s chicken popcorn. Called the Chicken Popcorn Pizza, the new limited-edition item has launched today, which features Pizza Hut’s iconic crispy crust alongside classic gravy, and a generous serving of cheese, sweetcorn, and mushrooms.

To celebrate the partnership, the two brands have released another exciting engagement for its customers – a mobile game called the ‘Pizza Hut x KFC Kitchen,’ conceptualized together with Ogilvy Hong Kong. Emphasizing the partnership between the two brands, the game connects two phones and challenges two players to craft a ‘Pizza Hut x KFC Chicken Popcorn Pizza’ against the clock together, playing as the ‘Pizzatainer’ and ‘Colonel Sanders.’

Teamwork is the name of the game as players have to knead the dough, fry the chicken popcorn, and bake the pizza too. Completed tasks within the given time win players Pizza Hut and KFC coupons.

Wendy Leung, marketing director at Pizza Hut Hong Kong said, “The Pizza Hut x KFC Chicken Popcorn pizza brings the best of both worlds together. This mobile game based on teamwork is a great way to engage with our fans and consumers while also increasing awareness of our brand and food innovation credentials.”

Meanwhile, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy John Koay said the collaboration between the two brands is a dream come true. 

“That’s why we were excited to create the Pizza Hut x KFC Kitchen, a fun two-player game for fans to create this epic pizza with a friend and unlock tasty rewards too.”