Oxwhite hunts for white space to grow with Mamee and The Alley tie-up

Malaysian lifestyle brand Oxwhite is collaborating with Mamee and bubble tea brand The Alley for co-branding initiatives, which will result in new product innovations in the apparel and food and beverage space. Oxwhite first launched in 2018 with the aim of offering Malaysians access to premium quality, and affordable lifestyle products. Popularly known for creating mainly white dress shirts, the brand is looking to break that image with the tie up with Mamee which will open doors for it to use Mamee's iconic blue, pink and red Mamee Monster icons to produce 900 limited-edition t-shirts.  These products will then be sold on Oxwhite and exclusively on Shopee on 12 December. The launch will be featured on Shopee's homepage to maximise exposure and traffic.

According to Oxwhite’s founder CK Chang (pictured left), the designs aim to invoke a sense of nostalgia in consumers, since Mamee is a recognisable homegrown brand that has gained popularity since its inception in the 1970s. The shirts are currently in production in the lead up to 12.12 and this collaboration is exclusively online. "This means that even the Mamee Experience Store in Melaka's Jonker Street and its HQ in Subang will not have this particular collection. That is how exclusive the collection is and is based on a first-come-first-serve basis. We want to create hype around it to urge more consumers to purchase," he added. To market the partnership, Oxwhite will mainly tap on its social media channels to spread awareness, as well as rely on 12.12 sales to boost traffic. With every purchase of the t-shirt, consumers will also stand to win Mamee merchandise including the Mamee Monster stuffed dolls. 

As for The Alley, both parties have created a new beverage named Oxwhite Tea which will only be available at all 59 of The Alley’s outlets beginning 25 November. Upon purchasing the drink, consumers will receive an Oxwhite-The Alley branded mask, which has a retail value of RM19.90, as well as RM10 Oxwhite vouchers.

"We plan to sell 7,000 units of masks and in the second phase our partnership, a T-shirt will be created. We are looking at something comfortable that is still able to shout out about The Alley brand. We are also looking to produce merchandise for sale within The Alley's outlet store," Chang added.

Currently the brand has a customer base of more than 155,000 with a high repeat purchase rate of over 40%. Over 70% of its customers are aged between 25 to 40 years old. Based on their purchase patterns, Oxwhite is aware that they seek and enjoy high quality products that are also affordable. "As most start-up owners will know, most startups will reach a stagnation stage. We hope to not hit a stall and hence we will continuously innovate in capturing new market shares and we found good synergy with Mamee and the Alley," Chang added.

During the interview with A+M, Chang explained that Mamee Group's executive director Pierre Pang (pictured centre) and COO Felix Pang approached Oxwhite a few months back requesting for a collaboration. According to him, the company is always on the hunt to tie up with licenced brands and with Mamee being a familiar homegrown brand in Malaysia, it was “a dream come true” for Oxwhite to be awhile to work with Mamee.

As for The Alley, Chang met its CEO Ng Zhen Wei (pictured right) at an event a year ago. The Alley's target customers are mainly between the ages of 16 to 35 years old. By creating co-branded products with The Alley, Oxwhite hopes to grow its pool of younger customers by 5%. "The Alley has a large group of very trendy, high spending power young Millennials that are up for quality and lifestyle, these are the group of customers we would love to have as well," Chang told A+M. When asked about the monetary ROI it hopes to achieve, Chang said Oxwhite is "looking beyond monetary [gains]".

Immersing into a product

The partnership also made sense for Mamee because the brand believes that a true immersion experience does not start and end with the putting a product in one's mouth, Pang said. The company had an adhoc campaign with Uniqlo a few years back and according to Pang, it made them realise that today's consumers want to engage with a brand that goes beyond the physical product they consume.

"That is why in recent times, we are very pro-collaboration and focused on excitement-based campaigns, such as getting consumers to hunt for limited-edition black and pink monster packaging, ghost pepper noodles, or the recent spicy boba noodles collaboration with Tealive. We have started the journey into big snacks for the Mamee brand and we will be extending it into other various categories," Pang added.

Mamee, which started as a children's snack and as part of the brand evolution, is currently looking to come across as a Millennial-friendly brand. Children who grew up with Mamee about 10 to 20 years ago are now parents and Pang believes it is important to continue with the tradition of leverage the parents' familiarity with its brand to introduce Mamee to their children. Hence, young Millennials today are its core audience instead of children.

According to Pang, through the pandemic Mamee has put a lot more emphasis to the "value" it brings as a business. It has reined in the excitement factor, and pivoted towards adding more value to the customers.

"The categories that it is currently selling are more towards essentials, for example, instant noodles. So on that front, we have had to cut a lot of our excitement-based plans. We have kept only the bubble tea collaboration with Tealive and the rest [of the dollars], we have channeled it to giving better value. For example, giving five plus one packs to consumers. We also recently gave away two million packs of noodles and biscuits to Malaysians," he said. However, when things do stabalise, the brand will be eyeing opportunities to excite [consumers].

CEO of The Alley Ng Zhen Wei said that it will help the brand move into a space beyond food and beverage and evolve into a lifestyle brand. “Apart from that, is it also an opportunity to reach out to a new group of audience,” he added.

Why Oxwhite?

Ng also told A+M that he decided to collaborate with Oxwhite because he was drawn to its concept of supply affordable premium products. "We chose to launch only 7,000 units because when divided among the 59 stores we have in Malaysia, it will sell out very fast. I hope the masks will sell out within one to two weeks. Those who order via Grab delivery will also receive the masks," he added. To promote the collaboration, Ng said The Alley will be reaching out to "key opinion customers with about one to three thousand followers".

Additionally, The Alley will also invest RM300,000 to develop an app and collaborate with over 100 Petron stations to raise brand awareness. With such efforts, Ng said the company expects revenue to return to pre-Movement Control Order days.

Moreover, Pang said that Mamee chose to work with Oxwhite because of the quality of Oxwhite's products and the value it provides. According to Pang, that is something that Mamee believes in too - offering great quality products at a great value.

"We are fans in regards to how CK and his team has built the company from scratch. It became an Internet sensation when consumers had to pay upfront, so I think on this entrepreneur side, there is also a huge admiration on our part," Pang explained. When Oxwhite first launched in 2018, it worked on a pre-order business model where consumers are required to pay upfront before production commences and will only receive their dress shirts about three months later.

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When asked how Oxwhite has had to evolve its marketing, Chang said the company has not been badly affected and marketing plans are still intact given it is an online-only company.

"That said, on the marketing side, we suggested more relevant products during this time since people are working from home. We started as a company selling white dress shirts but now we have adapted and are selling performance gear, face masks, inner wear and casual wear. All these are part of our pivoting efforts. Our images are also shot more from the user experience point of view rather than focusing on elegance and styling because when consumers work from home, they dress down," Chang added.

He added that the brand doesn't bank on KOLs for its marketing but rather believes its customers are the real fans. "We have an exclusive Facebook community of close to 23,000 customers who give feedback on our products, share their unboxing experiences and discuss what the next product line-up should be as well as the colours and price. By engaging with our customers, we can more accurately predict what sells and will not sell," he added. 

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