Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Subway MY announces local expansion; targets 500 new branches

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Subway in Malaysia, one of the world’s largest quick service restaurant brands, has announced a new master franchise agreement with Pegacorn to significantly expand the brand’s footprint in West Malaysia.

Under the contract, Pegacorn, a partner to Subway in Malaysia since 2019, will open approximately 500 new Subway locations across Peninsular Malaysia over the next 10 years — tripling the number of Subway restaurants in the market and steadily increasing the annual restaurant count.

John Chidsey, CEO of Subway, said, “The Asia Pacific and the Southeast Asia markets continue to be a huge opportunity of growth for Subway and an essential part of our international growth strategy. Pegacorn has proven to be a well-resourced, strategic and successful local operator that has the local insight and experience needed to expand Subway’s presence in Malaysia.”

As accessibility remains a top priority for Subway, under Pegacorn’s stewardship, guests can expect to see an increase of Subway non-traditional locations across Malaysia namely in airports, hospitals, petrol stations and convenience stores. Additionally, new – as well as updated existing restaurants – will feature Subway’s modern ‘Fresh Forward’ design and enhance convenience for the consumer with new drive throughs and ‘Grab & Go’ options.

Meanwhile, Kin Siong Kon, CEO of Pegacorn, commented, “We are excited about the opportunity to lead the growth of Subway in West Malaysia and increase international awareness of the brand. We have seen increased demand from guests in Malaysia for Subway’s craveable sandwiches, wraps and salads and are committed to growing the business to make Subway even more accessible to communities across the country.”

The agreement with Pegacorn is part of Subway’s multi-year transformation journey to build a ‘Better Subway’ and improve across all aspects of the brand as the business expands its presence around the world. Subway continues to seek strong partners with expertise in local markets across APAC as it aggressively doubles its current network of restaurants in the region.

This collaboration is the third of its kind for Subway in Southeast Asia, following recent master franchise agreements in Indonesia and Thailand, and will significantly increase the total future restaurant commitment in the region.

Main Feature Platforms APAC

What’s NEXT: The state of dine-in, food aggregators moving forward in 2022

2022 sees most countries moving into endemic status with 61.6% of the world’s population receiving at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Whilst this statistic gives consumers the confidence to pursue a similar lifestyle to that of pre-pandemic, varied rules and regulations around mask-wearing, temperature checking, and in-dining seating capacity have affected dine-in volume at restaurants. Governments have also enacted strict policies to curb the spread of the virus allowing only fully vaccinated customers to dine in. This evidently impacted the channel dynamics and has shifted the channel mix in the food business.

But does this mean the dine-in business model is over?

The Quick Service Retail (QSR) remains resilient despite the fluid circumstances and it is essential for businesses to pivot towards contactless channels such as self-service kiosks, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) ordering system, and drive-in capabilities to meet the demands of the new norm. With disruptions to the dine-in services, brands are aggressively scaling up contactless delivery through e-commerce and giving rise to food aggregators. Will food aggregators dominate the way customers access food?

1. Understand your customer base

Countries with high mobile internet penetration may not necessarily translate into high food aggregators adoption. We may see higher demands in the urban areas with easy access to smartphones, internet banking, and mobile wallets usage, however, the outer cities in which the dine-in would still prevail are equally important to drive the volume.

2. Top-notch food quality

Most restaurants are preconditioned to serve food of the highest quality in a dynamic dine-in environment. But when it comes to food delivery, new service guidelines have to be designed to guarantee the same food quality are served considering longer delivery time to reach the customers. Working closely with aggregators especially in determining the delivery radius so that the food quality is intact upon reaching customers is important. Added investments in packaging are also required for the food to withstand the delivery journey.

3. Attractive on-going deals

With aggressive customer acquisition activities, each platform offers a plethora of deals to gain share of throats. Heavily subsidized promos to entice customer transactions are apparent in today’s e-commerce market. When value becomes parity, what would be the differentiation for customers to migrate from one platform to another? Strategic pricing and limited menus probably come into play in such scenarios.

4. Loyalty engines

Gamification, point systems, and rewards are common features on food aggregators today to ensure repeat purchases and consistent Daily Active Users (DAU) to avoid customer churn. Nowadays, customers are value-centric and preconditioned to compare the best deals utilizing social media and forums for peer reviews and validation.

5. Premium fees

Delivery platforms typically come with fees or differential pricing. Customers who are affluent enough would be comfortable paying the delivery fees for convenience and ease. However, value-conscious customers will look for an alternative such as self-collect options or discounts before making the final purchase decision.

With the uncertainties of the endemic, it would be premature to say that dine-in will return to its full glory with dining-in protocols and fluctuating COVID cases. Whilst food aggregators promise alternate access to food, there are many parameters to be considered for it to drive profitability and scale. The current customer acquisition mode requires significant investments into subsidies for the platform to sustain in the long run to consistently generate transactional volume. Both channels will continue to co-exist. Depending on the market dynamics, the channel mix will shift accordingly.

This article is written by May Ling Chan, CMO of KFC in Malaysia.

The article is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series What’s NEXT. This features marketing leaders sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year. The series aims to equip marketers with actionable insights to future-ready their marketing strategies.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share with regards to the upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to have your thought-leadership published on the platform.

Marketing Featured South Asia

New campaign from McDonald’s India celebrates ‘leapling birthdays’

Mumbai, India – As February concludes in a non-leap year, McDonald’s India has taken the liberty to celebrate the so-called ‘leapling’ birthdays, and give them the celebration they deserve through its new marketing campaign.

The Indian arm of the popular fast-food chain has initially released a short film, conceptualized by advertising agency DDB Mudra Group. The film depicts quirky highlights on what do people jest about celebrating the birthday on February 29. From their ‘actual age’ jokes to calling their birthday a holiday, the film concludes with a curated meal for these birthday celebrants to enjoy.

“Everyone loves their birthday. It’s the day the world makes you feel special. But for some, this happy day appears on the calendar only once in 4 years. And as a brand that believes that happiness is for everyone, we thought McDonald’s could make it special for these leaplings,” said Rahul Mathew, chief creative officer at DDB Mudra Group.

The promo meal called ‘Surprise Leap Meal’, offers leapling birthday celebrants an exclusive meal which includes vegetarian and non-vegetarian burgers, as well as desserts and shakes.

(Left) Rahul Mathew, Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group; (Right) Arvind RP, director – marketing and communications, McDonald’s India (West and South)

“McDonald’s has always aimed to create special moments for one and all. Unlike all others, the leaplings have to wait for 3 long years to celebrate their actual birthday. With this campaign, we hope to add some extra cheer to our leapling customers’ birthday week and make them feel special,” according to Arvind RP, director for marketing and communications at McDonald’s India, in West and South.

The ‘Surprise Leap Meal’ was initially rolled out last February 27, and will run until March 7, 2021. The exclusive meal is also only open to customers at select McDonald’s outlets in West and South.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Subway’s “More Meat, Less Marketing” campaign gains traction in Malaysia

Malaysia – Come September, the Subway brand in Southeast Asia surprised audiences with a unique take on its marketing campaign – that is, a promotional messaging that targets marketing itself: “More meat, less marketing.”

The campaign was launched in the region-bound countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, and in Malaysia, the campaign has gained impressive traction within the first month since its launch.

VaynerMedia APAC, the creative brains behind the campaign, shared to MARKETECH APAC, that from the campaign’s release until November to date, digital posts have reached a 7% average engagement rate.

The star of the campaign – Subway’s new Meat Stack – is its sub, packed with chicken strips, tender chicken slices, pepperoni, smokey salami, and fresh veggies. The campaign’s aim is to drive home the message that in order to give the best-valued fresh sub, Subway spent all its budget on cooking up the new item with very little left for marketing.

Much like the long-running joke of “honest movie titles,” and “honest advertisements,” the campaign pokes at the elephant in the room in the business of marketing, where some brands prefer to build on glamorous branding rather than improve the product itself. 

Subway’s “More meat, less marketing” campaign is a 360 marketing initiative. Digital banners and videos have been rolled out on the different markets’ Subway social media channels. On Subway Malaysia’s Facebook page, banners bearing the hashtags #NoBudgetForMarketing #InsertHashtagHere #NoMoneyForHashtag #NoBudgetForTVC are being posted regularly. 

In an October 12 post, Subway Malaysia published a video with the description, “Meat lovers, rejoice! Marketing folks – look away! ‘Cos we’ve spent all our marketing budget stuffing more meat into our all-new Meat Stack.” The video shows a “behind the scenes” editing of the Meat Stack banner, being created in elementary “PowerPoint’” style. 

Meanwhile, another quirky Facebook post shows an image of the new sub with the copy, “You Win Some (meat), You Lose Some (advertising).”

Another post was also published, similarly shining on the battle between good product and good advertising, with a GIF showing a scoreboard, where the new sub gains a point vs no points for marketing. 

VaynerMedia shared that as of current, the campaign has garnered 310k impressions in Malaysia, with a total of 9k engagement of comments, shares, and reactions. Reshares have also amounted to 695.

Of the concept, VaynerMedia APAC’s Executive Creative Director VJ Anand said, “In the marketing industry, we often joke about creating ads using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or MS Paint. We took these jokes and made it a reality because it was a fun approach which made sense with a product like the value-for-money Meat Stack. Add to that the current realities of our industry which has been facing year-long budget cuts, and you have a marketing campaign that’s real, relevant, and talkable.”

A number of Malaysians expressed their appreciation for the marketing move, with one commenting on Facebook, “I love this [idea], more for customer, less for advertiser.”

Another also wrote, “So far, Subway has been the only one calling out what it is. Liking the self-depreciation campaign you’re doing,” alongside enthusiastic emojis of a thumbs-up, and clapping hands. 

Aside from socials, the campaign also takes form in point-of-purchase materials and out-of-home bus ads, particularly in Singapore. In the Lion city, the messaging was adapted in the form of half designed ads, with the catchy copy “[Subway] could only afford half an ad.”

VaynerMedia said the campaign is set to run until early January 2021. 

Hang Ee Laine, Subway’s head of marketing for Southeast Asia said, “We are excited to connect with our guests through a fresh, fun, and light-hearted campaign. We created a delicious sub, and wanted to tell a story in a way that would make people smile.”

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

A champ is back: Jollibee’s 1/3 pound patty burger returns to menu

Manila, Philippines – Fast food chain Jollibee in the Philippines has made a big announcement Friday – its stuffed, hundred percent pure beef, and one-third pound patty Champ burger has been brought back to its menu.

The signature burger of the restaurant is well-loved by Filipinos, and fans were greatly upset when Jollibee announced its phase-out in January of this year. 

The return was revealed on its Facebook. Although offered only on “selected” stores, its availability still spans nationwide with at least 16 stores for every region, including that of the country’s metro location.

The Champ consists of beef patty, tomato, lettuce, and cheese. Tagging along the comeback is also two new introductions, Bacon Champ which has two strips of bacon, and the new Amazing Aloha Champ with honey mustard dressing and two pineapple rings.

The jumbo variant of the Jollibee classic Burger Steak, which was similarly phased out in January, has also been re-added to the menu. The Ultimate Burger Steak consists of garlic rice, a thick burger steak, mushroom gravy, fries, and a fried egg. 

The original Champ is priced at P150 for the ala carte version, while the Bacon and Aloha selections can be ordered at P185 and P199, respectively. Meanwhile, the burger steak’s price starts at P150.

All items are available starting October 30, with the re-added burger steak slated to roll-out in the Visayas and Mindanao region by November 18. 

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Pizza Hut Delivery Indonesia assigns programmatic campaigning to GroupM’s Mediacom, Xaxis

Singapore – Pizza Hut Delivery (PHD) Indonesia has designated GroupM-owned companies, global media network MediaCom, and programmatic business Xaxis to handle all of its future programmatic campaigns.

According to a press release by Xaxis, PHD Indonesia pivoted to run more programmatic campaigns to ensure that its marketing efforts reached only the most relevant audiences.

Xaxis said that one of the weak links it targeted to fix for PHD is its disconnected online and offline customer data, which makes for a lack of visibility into the overlap and differences between its in-store and digital customers.

With such pain point, Mediacom will be taking over to consolidate audience insights with the use of Xaxis’ audience analysis solution Beyond.

Alfitrahmat Saputro, brand digital manager of PHD shared that unlike traditional panel-based market research, Beyond provided them with an audience analysis based entirely on the real-world behavior of their actual customers on both the website and physical stores.

Meanwhile, Yunnita Avreda, country head for Xaxis Indonesia said, “We were excited to work with a client so open to trying new innovations. With customers who can interact with the brand online through their delivery website, in-store, or through pick-up and take-out, Pizza Hut Delivery Indonesia was a perfect fit for Beyond and its capability to bridge online and offline consumer data.”

Xaxis Beyond will be made available across the APAC region.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Jollibee Singapore brings local take of Nasi Lemak to its menu

Singapore – The Singaporean branch of Philippines-grown restaurant brand Jollibee has decided to spruce up its menu, by bringing its local take of the dish Nasi Lemak.

Nasi Lemak, which has its origins in Malay cuisine, consists of fragrant rice that has been soaked in coconut milk and cooked with Pandan leaf that gives it its distinct flavor. It is a staple favorite in neighboring countries Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and even Philippines; each having its unique take on the dish.

The Nasi Lemak dish is a variant to Jollibee’s signature meal consisting of “Chickenjoy.” Instead of the usual rice, the new dish will be served with traditional Nasi Lemak sides: coconut rice, hot spicy sauce Sambal, small fried anchovies called Ikan Bilis, and cucumber slices.

Enjoy this new crispy & juicy tradition, Nasi Lemak Chickenjoy for only $5*! It is our bestseller Chickenjoy (Original…

Posted by Jollibee Singapore on Thursday, October 1, 2020

As per usual, customers can order the chicken either in original or spicy flavor. The meal’s starting price is at S$5 and can be ordered via in-store or food delivery apps.