Korean convenience chain emart24 enters Malaysia, plans 300 stores in 5 years

Korean convenience store emart24 has expanded into Malaysia with its first reserve store in Bangsar South. This comes as the brand realised that ready-to-eat options and convenience store fast food are becoming a norm, a trend that only used to be seen in South Korea and Japan. To drive awareness, emart24 has appointed Beatnk group as its communications partner. The appointment comprises an all-rounded communications approach, integrating strategic and creative communications, PR, influencer management, as well as digital and social media. 

Beatnk is a micro network of independent agencies that comprises REBL and McGagh Communications. According to Beatnk, the group and McGagh were appointed to drive home the launch campaign. REBL Malaysia will retain social media duties on retainer post-launch. The appointment follows a pitch in February this year and the spokesperson said Beatnk was chosen given its "collaborative nature as a micro-network group of independent agencies". Therefore, it was able to give the attention needed for emart24's launch.

According to emart24, its reserve store received positive support from store visitors in the neighbourhood and from orders via foodpanda. Meanwhile, the first general store is set to begin operations in Hartamas, carrying signature offerings such as Korean street food. Emart24's spokesperson explained that the company saw the increasingly busy urban lifestyle evolution driving the growth of convenience stores, which can also be seen in markets outside of the Klang Valley.

Since its founding in 2014, emart24 has grown to over 5,500. Riding on the Hallyu wave, its newest store in Malaysia will be the first of 300 targeted to be launched in the country over the next five years. It also aims to provide spacious and airy store designs to 'redefine the stereotypical, white-walled convenience store. Leveraging its Korean roots, the brand plans to stand out from competitors such as FamilyMart, 7-Eleven and myNEWS by offering Korean street food, a fresh coffee station, exclusive Korean snacks from its "I’m e" and "No Brand" private labels, and a range of K-beauty products. 

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According to emart24's spokesperson, its main target audience is Malaysian working adults and teens, who are the drivers behind the Hallyu wave and all things Korean. The brand also aims to be omnipresent primarily in the digital and social channels to reach out to its patrons. "Whilst we would love to engage the audience beyond these, we are 100% behind curbing the pandemic for the greater good, so any new platforms will have to be carefully reviewed," the spokesperson said. The brand has its in-house marketing team but declined to comment on its marketing budget, future marketing plans or potential expansion plans in Southeast Asia. 

Vuitton Pang, CEO of emart24 Malaysia said that through its communications strategy, emart24 aims to continue to position its brand in line with its consumer-first approach at the core of its interactions with its customers, both in-store and in the digital sphere. “The excitement of the launch from the public was positive, stemming from various marketing and communication efforts with the team at Beatnk to bring awareness to the store’s opening, despite having to circumnavigate the new social distancing norms,” added Pang.  

Tanner Nagib, co-founder of Beatnk and strategic advisor at REBL, added that “adapting quickly to the new norm with an ongoing pandemic is the new norm.” He also said that REBL positioned its messaging to align with the consumer-first approach whilst keeping it approachable at a distance, planning to localise the brand in addition to bringing awareness to the brand's customer experience innovations moving forward.

Emart24's expansion into Malaysia comes shortly after myNEWS broke into the mini-mart scene with its own brand SUPERVALUE. The convenience chain said that the launch sought to offer convenience and comfort to consumers in the suburban area so that they would not have to travel far or navigate through a parking lot as they would do at a hypermarket. 

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