#PRAwards highlight: How Eu Yan Sang broke the age barrier and got 'in' with the cool crowd

Winning the bronze award for "Best PR Campaign: Health & Pharmaceuticals" at Marketing and A+M's PR Awards 2020 is traditional Chinese medicine company Eu Yan Sang and its event and activation marketing agency partner, Unicom Marketing Malaysia. The experiential campaign that got them the award was inspired by Eu Yan Sang seeking to attract younger consumers in Malaysia, as it is a brand better known amongst the older generation.

Through building an experience centre, Eu Yan Sang and Unicom Marketing fused traditional and modern elements, educating and appealing to both the old and young in Malaysia. Take a look at how the traditional Chinese medicine brand broke its stereotype and won over not only younger Malaysians, but also our judges at PR Awards 2020.

Challenge

Consumer-buying behavior is constantly changing and brands need to respond quickly to these changes through brand positioning and marketing campaigns. Eu Yan Sang, a 140-year old Malaysia-based brand, knew that while it had effectively engaged the "mature" or older generation of consumers, it had to change with times to engage a younger audience.

While the company continues to grow in Malaysia and in Singapore, Eu Yan Sang recognised the challenge of appealing to the Millennial market. With the slogan “Caring since 1879”, Eu Yan Sang took up the challenge to engage digitally-savvy Millennials for their 140th anniversary.

The PR Issue:

Together with Unicom Marketing Malaysia, the event and activation marketing agency partner of Eu Yan Sang, the two discussed the possible reasons as to why the brand was not appealing to young consumers. Some of the observations were:

  • The brand perception that Eu Yan Sang is only for the older generation, and that traditional medicine is for the old, with no relevance for Millennials.
  • Lack of brand and product knowledge – many were unable to appreciate traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or traditional/herbal medicine because of heightened exposure to commercialised western medicine.

Strategy

Eu Yan Sang and Unicom laid out the core challenges and brand objectives for campaign:

  1. Come up with a marketing campaign in line with the brand’s 140th anniversary;
  2. Position Eu Yan Sang as brands for all generations, and not just for the old;
  3. Appeal to Millennials through the right marketing campaigns to influence positive change in brand perception;
  4. Increase Millennial memberships.

Eu Yan Sang and Unicom knew that they faced an uphill task in ensuring that their key strategies get addressed. PR, in this instance, was crucial in influencing positive change on brand perception.

At the end of the brainstorming and planning sessions, it was decided that an experience center would be created to showcase the history of Eu Yan Sang and educate the target audience about herbs and traditional medicines. The purpose of this centre was to strategically house all important engagement elements in one space and drive brand education and appreciation. The centre was erected from 30 August to 22 September 2019, coinciding with the anniversary month of Eu Yan Sang.

The team chose to host the centre at the Golden Triangle - Lot 10 Premier Entrance- the shopping, entertainment and commercial hub of Kuala Lumpur often visited by Millennials. Lot 10’s data boasted approximately five million pedestrians in the area per month, with 50% being pedestrians of the age group of 20 to 34, which is the key target audience for the campaign.

The team carefully lined-up experiential and engagement points from start to end, and enticed its target audience to enter the centre by offering a good cup of herbal tea. The welcome drink gesture was designed to start explaining about the herbal tea and to give people an idea of what to expect when they enter the centre.

While the campaign aimed to engage the public regardless of age, the team focused on how to appeal to the younger consumers. As such, the centre was broken down into three sectors to complete the brand journey:

Section 1 – This section primarily showcased the brand’s history to let guests understand and learn about the brand’s rich past.

Section 2 – This section was created to let guests learn about herbs and how medicine is made out of them.

Section 3 – The third section was to show the modernisation of Eu Yan Sang and created to connect with the target audience by setting up a place to fuse traditional (herbs) and modern (digital screen) elements.

Meanwhile, members of the media and influencers were also tapped on to ensure the spread of news around the centre. Mainstream media and influencers were invited to experience the centre and cover the campaign.

Execution

As soon as audience entered the premises of the centre, they were educated on the benefits of Luo Han Guo as the main ingredient of the herbal tea welcome drink. This served not only as a product sampling activity, but also a point of education of the herb. Guests were also given radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled wristbands to entice them into exploring and experiencing the centre. The team also explained to guests about the rewards they could collect from different interactive games.

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Meanwhile, each of the three sections offered different levels of engagements. This includes digital executions, games, and interactive and experiential platforms for complete brand immersion and appreciation. The team showcased the Eu Yan Sang’s brand history by creating a space to feature the first Eu Yan Sang shop in Gopeng, Ipoh with “vintage” window LED panels carrying the brand story. The team also displayed Eu Yan Sang's best-selling products with an evolution of its packaging in a see-through glass showcase cabinet.

As they ventured through the centre, guests were urged to prepare medicine formulas by finding and collecting ingredients from the real antique TCM drawers which carried real dried herbs for them to touch and smell. They were also taught how to use traditional tools to make traditional medicine through interactive games. Additionally, an interactive projection was installed for the guests to "flip" thru a book which documents the brand's milestones across 140 years.

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The team also created an "Instagrammable" grass wall with real dried herbs, which allowed the guests to take photos for social sharing. Guests were encouraged to touch and smell the herbs on the photo wall for better experience. Meanwhile, when guests carried Eu Yan Sang products displayed on kiosks, a LED screen would demonstrate the product information by playing a product video.

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Guests were also encouraged to undergo a pulse diagnosis, a diagnostic technique in TCM, to check the general condition of the guests. A doctor was on-site to give some medical advice, following which the guests could book a medical appointment if necessary.

At the end of the journey, guests could scan their RFID wristbands to check their earned points. A vending machine would then dispensed their door gifts following the completion of a quick survey form on the screen. This allowed the team to collect feedback.

Last but not least, a pop-up store was also set up for guests to purchase their favourite Eu Yan Sang products.The guests ended their journey at the giant interactive "Wishing Tree" (on a LED wall). There, they can write wishes on a digital tablet, and hang them on the Wishing Tree digitally.

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Results

The campaign efforts paid off as the brand attained coverage from media such as Kwongwah Daily, Nan Yang Siang Pao, Sinchew Daily and Oriental Daily in Malaysia. Working with moth micro and macro influencers resulted in a total reached of well over a million.

Within weeks, the center saw a footfall of over 42,000 pedestrians taking part in the activities. Positives were taken generally with most vouchers redeemed which resulted in sales that exceeded the brand’s expectations from the pop-store. A considerable success, the campaign resulted in a significant number of signups for the EU Rewards Family (Eu Yan Sang’s membership programme) from the age groups of 16 to 25 and 26 to 35.

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