Brand spotlight: Tamjai International remembers its roots despite global expansion plans

Brand spotlight: Tamjai International remembers its roots despite global expansion plans

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As a household name in Hong Kong, TamJai International, which operates two brands in the city, Tamjai Yunnan Mixian and TamJai SamGor, has had to find new ways to survive and adapt to the pandemic. Both of TamJai international brands are known for their rice noodles and ability to customise toppings, handing the power back to consumers to decide what makes up their ideal comfort meal.

While TamJai Yunnan Mixian has been in the market since 1996, its younger counterpart TamJai Sam Gor started up only in 2008. In 2020, TamJai SamGor made its first foray internationally opening its brand in Singapore, with its sister brand, TamJai Yunnan Mixian set to open a few months after. Last year, the brand also announced its plans to head into the Japan market to further expand its footfall. In total, it has approximately 157shops under the fast-casual brands.

daren lauDaren Lau (pictured left), chairman, executive director and CEO of Tamjai International said that while the pandemic has no doubt been difficult to many in the F&B space, having high quality of takeaway food has been helpful to the brand. With its high quality packaging, the brand didn't have to add a whole lot more to its packaging as take aways became a norm. "The convenience has helped us a lot when we were banned from offering dine-in services," said Lau.

Meanwhile, according to the latest announcement, Tamjai International's revenue for the nine months which ended on 31 December was HK$1.78 billion (US$227.6 million), increasing by 37.4% year on year. The brand found that customers of Tamjai International were also more willing to spend. Its latest interim report announced in December 2021, said that the average spending per customer in Hong Kong for the six-month period ended on 30 September 2021 was HK$59.5 (US$7.61), up from HK$57.9 (US$7.4) or 2.8% in the same period of 2020. The average daily revenue per restaurant in 2021 was HK$43,546 (US$5567.2), up from HK$35,961 (US$4597.5) in 2020.

Although the business was stable with the new restrictions in place, Lau said the biggest highlight of the company over the past two years was the listing on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in October 2021. During the listing, the company said it would use a major part of the money raised to expand its network in Hong Kong, China, Singapore, in addition to new markets of Australia and Japan. The IPO attracted the likes of Matthews Asia, RAYS Capital Partners and China Southern Fund Management as cornerstone investors, with the trio taking 11.2% of the shares offered.

listing day gong hitting

Looking ahead, Tamjai International will keep working on its aggressive global expansion plan. Last year, Tamjai Yunnan Mixian opened its first store in Shenzhen as well.  "I can see the unlimited growth potential in the brands. We are so proud of our 'Tamjai flavours' and hope to bring this unique food culture to other places in the world. Our standardised production and simplified cooking can help us minimise training in every market in the world. We hope that by March 2024, there will be more than 300 stores under our brands in the world," Lau said.

He added, "Wherever you are, we want to satisfy your craving for a steaming bowl of Chinese noodle soup and a taste of Hong Kong-style hospitality."

Campaigns that won big at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's awards ceremonies

Undeterred by the pandemic, last year Tamjai International also rolled out several campaigns to keep consumers engaged in Hong Kong. One of the campaigns that resonated well with consumers was its “Tamjai x Master 7 Mother’s Day Special” campaign which was aimed at building a positive brand image and increasing awareness of Tamjai Yunnan Mixian’s new signature dishes. Through the campaign the brand also wanted to reinforce its down-to-earth local roots.

As such, Master 7 was chosen as she resonated well with Hong Kongers, having  starred in viuTV’s programmes. Alluding to its  own brand reputation, Tamjai decided to turn Master 7 into a waitress who boasted a similar accent (thanks to her overseas experience) to that of Tamjai Yunnan Mixian’s waitresses. Tamjai Yunnan Mixian waitresses were well known for their accents.

Tamjai Yunnan Mixian then launched a three part campaign with the first part being the job interview. In the first part, Master 7 showcased her ability to be a team member of the brand, adding funny quotes, brand characteristics and the new product information. After which, the business also conducted two events for media and influencers to a tasting event before Master 7 went to a Tamjai Yunnan Mixian store to act as a waitress for a day, which created tons of buzz for the brand.

Meanwhile, Tamjai Yunnan Mixian's sister brand TaiJai SamGor also launched a campaign last year, featuring boyband MIRROR's member Ian Chan. In the video, Chan shared his story of leaving Hong Kong for several years, but having the brand TamJai SamGor a special place in his heart. He visits a TamJai SamGor store right after landing in Hong Kong and the experience helps him recall the memories in the old days.

Lau said both campaigns echoed with Hongkongers, who celebrated attitudes such as hard work. Meanwhile, moving out of Hong Kong is also a common phenomenon among people in the city, so the brand leveraged this sentiment to create a campaign which then hit a nerve with consumers. 

As Tamjai International is operating two brands in the city, Lau said both brands have their  own marketing teams and the company has no plans to combine them. While both brands' customers might overlap with each other's, Lau said the teams each need to understand their target audience well and as such, keeping its marketing teams distinct is key.

tamjai samgor poster a

Lau added that both campaigns last year helped audiences understand that Tamjai brands are down-to-earth.  "Marketing is crucial to our business. It is part of our brand building efforts so we have spent a lot of time to create content that resonates with our customers, " said Lau, adding that the brand is careful on its spend given it doesn't have a big budget set aside for campaigns. He added that at the end of the day, social media is what is leveraged heavily by the brand's campaigns, being the first port of consideration. 

For example, TamJai SamGor's campaign which included a video on its Facebook page was launched in July 2021 and amassed more than 1.7 million views. Lau added that the campaign showed that the company did not need to splash around cash to create expensive marketing campaigns. Instead, it wanted to be big on creating content that audiences would remember and talk about.

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