Adrian Peter Tse
Apr 8, 2015

Wellcome's future branding efforts to centre on heritage (again)

HONG KONG – Julie Chiu, sales and marketing director at Wellcome, knows too well the challenges facing marketers in the supermarket industry. Tight margins and market saturation have forced Wellcome to search internally to differentiate itself from the competition.

Wellcome aims to differentiate itself in a saturated market
Wellcome aims to differentiate itself in a saturated market

Hong Kong’s supermarket brands have long passed the point where heavy-handed price wars, bundling strategies and direct promotions attract consumers. Not that these tactics don’t have any effect; it’s just that they’re the norm.

“When a Hong Konger walks on the street they see blue [Park n Shop] and red [Wellcome] right next to each other,” said Chiu, highlighting the close battle between the major supermarket chains. “Hong Kong consumers are very sophisticated now and they know all the ins and outs of deals and promotions to maximise every opportunity.”

In such a landscape, Wellcome studies consumers each year in an effort to find emerging opportunities. According to Chiu, a trend that keeps coming up is that people want “convenience, price and range”.

The only problem is that every supermarket in Hong Kong, whether premium or at the other end of the spectrum, is already catering to these needs.

“There’s no doubt the market is oversaturated. We’ve realised we needed to invest in our brand in order to rise above the functional consideration of consumers,” said Chiu.

This process of lifting the brand led Wellcome to discover what it considers to be its main differentiator at a core level: heritage.

“All Hong Kongers have memories at Wellcome from when they were kids, growing up and up until they’re old,” said Chiu. “We’ve been around a while and for us it has become about activating those collective memories and positive feelings around family and connectedness.”

This premise takes center stage in the 70th anniversary campaign which kicks off with a TVC. The video features celebrities Chiang Chi Kwong, Mak Cheung Ching, Fred Cheng and Siu Bo starring as the front-line staff at Wellcome.  

Bowie Wu stars as Hong Gor, who hides a personalised necklace among fresh food, hoping to take his lifelong partner, Helena Law (acting as Wai Je) by surprise at their '70th anniversary of acquaintanceship'.         

According to Chiu, when Wu and Law debuted in Wellcome's TVC last year, the ad campaign achieved positive results in both approval and awareness, warranting a return for the two stars.    

Mandy Wong, Jinny Ng, Joe Junior and So Yan Chi play customers in the store. Delivered in a Hong Kong TV show style, the high profile TVC hopes to appeal to a wide demographic.

“We have a good representation of age from the young to the old in the TVC,” said Chiu. “Office ladies are a big part of our customer base.”


The full cast for Wellcome's TVC


In terms of KPIs for the campaign, brand awareness, emotional loyalty, average number of store visits per month and basket size are just some of the measures of success that Wellcome’s marketing team will employ to measure success.

The campaign will also include a competition where shoppers who have bought $70 worth of goods can go into a lucky draw to win the 70th anniversary necklace worn by Helena Law in the TVC.

When asked why the campaign launched in April, Chiu explained that it's a down time for the supermarket industry following Chinese New Year. "It's a good time to launch brand-related campaigns and build up to the next active cycle."

The theme of the TVC will continue until the end of the year. “We will launch some different types of ads around this idea throughout the year as well as Facebook games to help drive our ecommerce.”

For Wellcome, the concept of heritage won't be going away any time soon. Instead its something that should only be reinforced.  

"We've finally found what makes us different. Heritage and the emotional bond that comes with it, is what sets us apart," said Chiu. "We know heritage is something you can't compete with—it's a fact and we want to protect and nurture this edge." 



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