THE BACKGROUND

Named after the biblical strongman Samson, travel luggage manufacturer and retailer Samsonite was founded in Denver, United States in 1910 and since been renowned for its high-quality and durable luggage.

With over 100 years of experience, the company is known for its high-quality and durable wide selections of innovative luggage. Samsonite also owns several other popular brands including American Tourister, High Sierra, and Lipault, making it the global market leader for travel luggage.

Samsonite Southeast Asia

Global market share of travel luggage in 2015. Source: Quartz

The company has changed ownership a few times, counting former Louis Vuitton’s CEO, Marcello Bottoli, as one of its past owners. In 2007, Samsonite was bought by private equity firm CVC Partners for $1.7 billion and the company raised $1.25 billion in an IPO in 2011 in Hong Kong.

But no company is without its own struggles to the top.

THE CHALLENGE

Samsonite counts Asia as its biggest market as China alone contributed to a quarterof the group’s sales ($124 million) in the first half of 2016. However, that number was 5.2% lower than the same period last year due to an economic downturn, and the shift to ecommerce.

Samsonite Southeast Asia

Samsonite sales in China are not growing as fast as it was before.

“In many of our key markets, our traditional channels of distribution have begun a painful process of adjustment to the shift in business online, and the implications for scale and type of retail estate,” said Samsonite’s Chairman, Timothy Parker.

Working with third-party platforms also proves to be tricky for the company as it attempts to protect its brand value by limiting the discount tactics used by ecommerce platforms to entice buyers to shop.

“We don’t want to grow ecommerce at the cost of our current model,” explainedSamsonite International CEO Ramesh Tainwala.

“We have to explain to the ecommerce players that they are offering enough advantages to consumers through convenience, through range shopping.”

The company is also aiming to double its luggage market share, where 50% of the volume is dominated by private label and unbranded sellers, by diversifying its portfolio and shed its stiff luggage manufacturer image.

“It’s [Samsonite] synonymous with luggage but we’re diversified into business backpacks, casual backpacks, and accessories. But we haven’t done a good job of telling that story,” said Stephanie Goldman, Senior Director of Brand Communications. Samsonite needs to find a better strategy for its marketing and distribution channels.

THE INNOVATION

“Consumers are spending, but they are spending more carefully, and looking for value. And one place that value is available is online,” said Samsonite’s Chairman, Timothy Parker.

Using China’s favorite messenger app WeChat, Samsonite utilizes social media to drive traffic to its brick-and-mortar stores and offer discount coupons to its followers. The initiative has succeeded in boosting 5% in offline sales.

Samsonite Southeast Asia

Samsonite joins a list of other global brands that utilize WeChat to attract consumers in China. Source: FashionChinaAgency

The company launched a marketing campaign with a tagline “We Carry the World” where it featured travelers using Samsonite products to show audiences its universal definition of “travel gear”.

Working with Connelly Partners, Samsonite USA also featured various influencers to advertise its business bag collection in its #WorkNotWork campaign and chose individuals with unconventional jobs like athletes, chefs, artists, and fitness gurus as brand ambassadors.

“Work nowadays can look much different from a typical 9-5, and we demonstrated the love that people actually have for their craft, and the hard work they put into it on a daily basis,” said Alyssa Toro, Chief Creative Officer of Connelly Partners.

Samsonite Southeast Asia

The ads for Samsonite’s campaign ‘We Carry The World’.

And in terms of corporate management?

“Samsonite has no head office — I am a CEO but I have no head office. I just have a room everywhere I go. Our business is not top-down. Our business in Japan is headed by Japanese and 100% of employees are Japanese. Our business in China is run by Chinese, 100% Chinese. We never move people from one country to another. So it is only myself — I am an Indian and work everywhere,” tells CEO Ramesh Tainwala to Nikkei Asia Review.

THE STRATEGY

To boost its digital retail distribution in Asia, Samsonite launched what it called a “three-pillar” strategy.

The company works with popular third-party sellers in the region such as Tmall and JD.com – these platforms now account for 60% of Samsonite’s online sales in China. In Southeast Asia, the company is selling its product in the region’s biggest marketplace Lazada. The company also selling through the digital outlets of shopping malls and department stores.

The third phase of its strategy is to further expand its own direct channels so more consumers in Asia can shop directly via the brand. As of right now, the company’s online channel only available in developed markets such as North America, European countries, Australia, and Japan. In June 2017, the company has acquired eBags, a Colorado-based online bag retailers, for $105 million to accelerate its direct-to-consumer plan.

“We are finding more and more that the online and offline shopping experience for consumers is getting blurred,” Samsonite CEO Ramesh Tainwala says. “eBags is strategically the most important acquisition for Samsonite over the past 20 years.”

Samsonite Southeast Asia

eBags platform

Through eBags, the company will expand to Europe and Asia and launch in India next year.

“At present, we have over 350 stores in India. We plan to open additional 50 stores by the end of this year. We are expecting a 12-15% growth in sales. This will be in line with our past growth trends,” said Samsonite President, Asia Pacific, Subrata Dutta.

Not only does omnichannel seem to be in Samsonite’s cards, the company has been busy acquiring other brands as acquisition seems to be the company’s favorite strategy to grow its portfolio.

Last year, Samsonite acquired luxury bag maker Tumi in its biggest deal to date for $1.8 billion following its acquisition of Hartmann in 2012.

“When we acquire a brand, it must have a very clear DNA, clear story and clear strength of its own,” said CEO Ramesh Tainwala.

THE FUTURE

The American major is expecting a 20-25% sales contribution from its ecommerce channel in the next few years as it undergoes the same business evolution that many traditional retailers have faced in the age of Amazon.

It’s also looking to emerging markets such as India and the Philippines.

“The Philippines is the No. 1 growth market for us. They all speak English, they travel abroad and their income level is increasing. Their governance has improved, and that makes people more confident to spend. That’s helping our business a lot,” said CEO Ramesh Tainwala.

The company has clearly demonstrated that it isn’t afraid to try.

Samsonite Southeast Asia

Lipault, Samsonite’s 2014 acquisition to appeal to more women.

By owning brands that speak to a variety of consumer segments such as luxury travel, everyday work bags and a line dedicated to offset its masculine brand and attract females, Lipault Paris, Samsonite is very likely to grab even more market share, especially seeing as there is no close competition in sight.

THE BACKGROUND

This year is Canon’s 80th year since the Japanese company’s establishment in manufacturing imaging and optical products.

The company was introduced in Japan in 1937 to provide locally made high-quality cameras at a time when industry was dominated by European players.

Its first 35mm focal-plane-shutter camera named the Hanza Canon, marks the first product under what is today’s globally recognized Canon brand and definitely not the company’s last innovation.

Canon imaging story

The first Canon camera. Source: Wikimedia

 

The imaging corporation decided early on to diversify its range of products, which is why in the present day, it remains relevant across a range of categories including Office Solutions, Consumer Imaging, Medical Systems, and Industrial Products — servicing both the end-consumer and business segments.

While the company holds 3,665 patents in the US, the Canon brand is still widely associated with its lineup of cameras.

In 2015, Canon owned 54.7% of the world’s market share for DSLRs and 18% market share of the mirrorless market in Japan meaning it’s very likely you’ve probably used a Canon product at least once in your life.

THE CHALLENGE

In 2014, the company reported a 27% fall in Q3 profit because of a slump in the global camera market thanks to the rise of the smartphone.

That same year, market researcher IDC predicted that the digital camera market would shrink 29% to 102 million units, compared with 144 million in 2010.

“The changes in the business environment are very severe,” admitted Canon Executive Vice President and CFO, Toshizo Tanaka.

Data from the Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) report in 2016 also showed a dramatic drop in camera sales worldwide from 2010 onwards.

Canon had to come up with better products to entice people to buy their products again.

Canon imaging story

Global sales of cameras peaked in 2010 before decreasing over the next five years. Source: Chart.

THE INNOVATION

How does a company tackle a global mobile obsession? By banking on new products features that a smartphone could never compete with and share a compelling story.

“By nudging people along their photo-storytelling journey, they may see the limitations around smartphones,” said Lee Bonniface, Marketing Director Canon EMEA.

Earlier this year, the company released multiple campaigns emphasizing how its camera features could enhance everyday life, including one called “Live for the story” and “Perfect Moments”.

With a tagline: “Being at the right place at the right time means nothing without the right camera”, the campaigns are meant to remind and encourage both amateur and serious photographers that Canon is the way to go.

Canon marketing strategy

Picture taken by Canon cameras on its “Perfect Moments”campaign.

 

“We hope that photographers at all levels will feel empowered to capture the everyday, fleeting moments that inspire them and that are made accessible by the exceptional Canon DSLR cameras and lense,” explained Rob Altman, Senior Manager of Marketing Canon USA.

As part of the campaign, the company also created a dedicated landing page offering tips for consumers looking to “Shoot for Greatness” with their cameras. The site serves to educate users through tutorial videos and step-by-step guides detailing the setup of a Canon DSLR camera.

In addition to marketing, the company also introduced three new cameras to its popular and budget friendly Rebel and EOS lines; Rebel T7i, 77D, and M6, aimed at transitioning photographers.

THE STRATEGY

“We know we either had to become a niche business for the photography geeks or we could reposition ourselves into brand millennials connect with,” said Bonniface.

To achieve the latter, Canon has chosen to go the ‘acquisition route’ to enrich its reach in the “imaging ecosystem”.

“We’ve been trying to address the question of how do we grow our business and become more relevant to new audiences,” said Senior Director of Digital Services Canon Europe, Alberto Spinelli.

In 2015, Canon acquired family photo-sharing app Lifecake for its users – typically parents organizing their photos and creating ‘story’ albums.

Canon marketing strategy

Lifecake platform

Following that acquisition, the company also bought another UK startup called Kite, a software company that enables people to take a photo from their smartphone and have it printed on physical products like photo albums, mugs or phone cases.

The company plans to integrate the software into Canon’s existing hardware devices, including its desktop printers and digital cameras.

“The acquisition of Kite really enhances our proposition,” explained Spinelli.

To boost its revenue globally, Canon eyes $10 billion in sales for the Asia market by 2020 as the region shows stronger growth than other parts of the world, including Canon’s current biggest market Japan.

To bring its products closer to the customers in emerging market such as Southeast Asia, the company sells directly to consumer through an official online store in Singapore.

Canon marketing strategy

Canon online store in Singapore

THE FUTURE

Despite dwindling camera sales over the last few years, the future for Canon and the industry looks pretty bright because photo-taking has not at all slowed down. The latest numbers from CIPA show that the segment has started to straighten out with 7.4% increase in sales during Q1.

Thanks to the newer generation’s addiction to social media sharing and the infamous ‘selfie’, we are the generation labeled as “self-obsessed”. If Canon can create the right tools and digital services to fuel the habit of digitally savvy consumers that want to capture life through picture perfect moments, it can come out on top in a global digital camera market predicted to exceed $2 billion by 2021.

THE BACKGROUND

Derived from Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well”, LEGO has been a fundamental companion to children and adults with its trademark interlocking bricks.

Founded in 1932, the toy company learned an important lesson of staying true to your brand the hard way.

When the company posted a loss in 1998 for the first time in its history, an internal audit found that no significant innovation had been made in the company for a decade.

It caused the company to hastily diversify its portfolio to include sectors it had no experience in.

This resulted in the company launching electronic toys, dabbling in video games, launches its own clothing lines and watches, and even building theme parks.

LEGO in Asia

Although eventually successful, LEGOland was a financial burden during its first creation and was sold to Merlin Entertainments.

Their attempts at disruption only succeeded at alienating fans and driving the privately-held company almost to the brink of bankruptcy.

With $800 million in unpaid debt in 2003, LEGO’s then CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp was convinced that the company was on a path to crash and burn.

“We’re running out of cash.. [and] likely won’t survive.”

The path to LEGO’s revival started in 2004 when Knudstorp began enforcing cost-cutting decisions and selling any LEGO’s business subsidiaries unrelated to the core product.

These actions steered the company back to its ‘brick’ business and the company began listening to the needs of its customers once again.

LEGO in Asia

Lego figure of Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, LEGO CEO who led the company out of the rut

13 years later, revenue increased five-fold and returned to profit. LEGO was named the most powerful brand in the world earlier this year and posted the highest revenue ($5.7 billion) in its 85 years history.

Now they’re looking at Asia.

THE CHALLENGE

Despite record-breaking results, the company’s sales grew only 6% this year after experiencing five years of double-digit growth. In LEGO’s biggest market, the US, sales fell flat despite a significant increase in marketing spend. The company also had to increase prices in the UK after the weakening of the pound following Brexit.

With an already high profile and static demand in mature markets where two third of its revenues come from, the company is hard-pressed to expand – enter Asia.

Although the toy company has been present in the region for the last three decades, LEGO believes that it still hasn’t unlocked Asia’s untapped potential where almost 60% of the world’s children reside.

Conquering Asia isn’t easy as the company faces several issues that are unique to this marker, namely having to price items for higher due to import duties and lack of an expansive retail footprint — causing LEGO to have to work with small distributors to reach audiences across single markets.

There is also a big difference of culture, where ‘play’ is defined differently and not considered as important for young children.

THE INNOVATION

In November 2016, the company opened its first factory in Asia (its fifth globally), located in China’s eastern Zhejiang province and an R&D hub in Singapore.

The decision to open the factory in China was motivated by the company’s 50% increase in sales from 2013 to 2015 in the country.

The 40-acre factory is expected to cut distribution costs and lower the price for customers in Asia. It’s also expected to produce 80% of the demand coming from mainly Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

LEGO also opened its largest retail store in Shanghai on a mainstreet outside of Disneyland, as testament of its confidence in its belief that China will be its third biggest market after the US and Germany.

LEGO in Asia

The opening of the LEGO Store in Shanghai

In terms of digital marketing, it seems the company is tailoring their efforts to target certain demographic groups.

The company is not only popular with children but also appeals to adult fans, particularly in Asia where over 80,000 of them are.

When the company launched its limited edition Architecture series – the first product line made for adults – they featured Seoul’s Sungnyemun Gate and Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel to appeal to Koreans and the Japanese.

LEGO in AsiaLEGO also granted tech-savvy Japan early access to Cuusoo, an online tool that allowed users to design their own LEGO designs in hopes of creating local buzz around its products.

In more recent news, a year-long ‘Build Amazing’ campaign was launched in April in Singapore – a highly family oriented country-state – to encourage parents to think differently about the definition of success and emphasize LEGO’s role in in children’s development.

LEGO in Asia

“The picture of success can be anything, it all depends on what that child wants to envision for their own life. This generation [of parents] are starting to think differently, as in there is an element of creativity and imagination that can help foster that, it’s not a one way route anymore,” said LEGO Senior Regional Brand Manager, Kevin Hagino.

To further its position in the market, LEGO expands its reach through online channels, by selling through e-marketplaces including the Lazada and Central.

LEGO in Asia

LEGO official store in Lazada

THE STRATEGY

Earlier this year, the widely applauded Jørgen Vig Knudstorp stepped down from CEO to head LEGO Brand Group. The division focuses on building long-term brand potential as the parent company expands overseas.

“Our long-term ambition is to provide the opportunity for millions more children around the world to benefit from LEGO play experiences, especially in emerging markets,” said Bali Padda, LEGO’s current CEO.

By building on its presence in Asia, LEGO is trying to become what it calls a “third leg on the stool” to complement its traditional markets, Europe and the US.

“What we’re trying to achieve is to have a major presence in all three regions so we can have a natural hedge on currency flows,” revealed Knudstorp.

THE FUTURE

As the toy industry is poised to grow bigger and new-gen parents in emerging markets can afford to be more open and attentive to the needs of their children, LEGO is in a good position to win the market, even in the emerging ones.

THE BACKGROUND

Chinese brand Huawei started as a producer of phone switches in 1987 before becoming the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) giant it is today.

The company builds products along the entire wireless communications chain: chipsets, network connectors, and handsets.

As Fortune puts it, “it’s as if General Motors had paved the Interstate Highway System, then started selling cars.”

Huawei recorded more than $42 billion in revenue for the first half of 2017 across its three main business units: Carrier, Enterprise, and Consumer Business.

Under its Consumer Business division, Huawei entered the smartphone market in 2010 and quickly rose to No. 1 in homeland China until Oppo took the title in 2016.

Nonetheless, the brand shipped 139 million smartphones in 2016 and controls 9.8% of global smartphone market share and around the world, the brand trails only behind Samsung and Apple as the No. 3 mobile phone vendor.

huawei premium strategy

Global market share by phone vendor, 2016. Source: IDC

THE CHALLENGE

Huawei’s rise to the top three was achieved in a very short time — less than five years – but the brand is struggling to catch up to its biggest rivals, especially in overseas markets.

Despite being a household name in China, the brand isn’t well known in Europe and the US.

A few issues have plagued the brand’s reputation: a general consensus that Chinese companies produce ‘cheap and copycat products, allegations of national cybersecurity breaching, and a investigation from the US government.

These issues have hampered the brand’s efforts to gain footing in the world’s biggest premium consumer market — the United States.

Huawei’s US sales totaled $1.3 billion last year, only a fraction of its worldwide sales of $32.4 billion.

In addition, the company has also faced difficulties winning emerging markets like India and Indonesia as most consumers favored devices below Huawei’s price tag where its budget phone handsets start from $170.

The company does not have the equivalent of Apple’s die hard fans nor Samsung’s superior phone features – they have “better value for money” as its differentiator.  

Without a customer niche, Huawei will find it difficult to boost sales and stay competitive. Although revenue growth was impressive in the first half of this year, it was the company’s slowest in four years.  

THE INNOVATION

In October 2014, Huawei launched a new brand of mobile phones that they called Honor and was sold direct to consumer through online channels to keep prices in the mid-range and targeted digital natives – young hipsters.

Huawei premium strategy

Huawei’s Honor flagship store in Germany

Launching a sub-brand is also a part the company’s efforts to emphasize the brand’s focus on quality.

The company also spent a large portion of its marketing budget on overseas promotion, including plastering major cities in Europe with advertisements.

Huawei premium strategy

Billboard of Huawei phone in Poland. Credit: Wade Shepard

To further familiarize Europeans with its brand, Huawei drew on the popularity of major sports clubs like Arsenal and AC Milan and reached the masses with several sponsorships.

Huawei premium strategy

The brand became the official sponsor of English football Arsenal to raise its brand awareness.

In 2016, Huawei struck a partnership with German-company Leica to develop a dual-lens camera system that resulted in the Huawei P9 smartphone, touting an innovative camera as one of its selling points. Apple rolled out the same feature shortly after.

Andreas Kaufman, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica Camera, saw the potential to become the second leg of digital revolution in the photography space where smartphones were the new amateur camera.

Huawei was also chosen by Google to build its flagship Android device Nexus in 2015. The partnership is strategically important for both companies as they are leveraging one another’s credentials for a leg up in an oligopoly market.

To crack the US market and simultaneously beat Apple for market share, Huawei is collaborating with Amazon and Google in the launch of its updated premium flagship device, the Mate.

The device is the first of Huawei’s smartphone to come with voice-interactive app, Amazon Alexa, and is available for purchase in US through Amazon. The Mate 9 is also the first Google Daydream-ready device for users to explore immersive virtual reality (VR) content and experience.

With so many enticing features jam-packed into one device, the soon-to-be launch Huawei Mate 10 is expected to surpass the performance of Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone 8.

THE STRATEGY

A few years ago, Red Zhengfei, founder of Huawei, laid out the company’s strategy: Huawei must make progress in the mid and high-end range with high quality products and turn a profit.

In order to do this, the Chinese company has continued to sacrifice margins to spend on R&D, investing $11 billion (76.4 billion yuan) to further its business.

Huawei further announced that it will focus on the mid-high segment for higher profits.

“We are giving up the very low-end devices because of the margin in this is extremely low, and it’s not making enough profit for us,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group.

Huawei premium strategy

CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, Richard Yu

“The priority is Europe, China, and Japan, where the economy is healthy and people are able to consume them.”

THE FUTURE

The company continues to works towards becoming the No. 1 smartphone supplier in the world within four or five years and seizing  20%-25% global market share by introducing visionary innovation to its products in order to charge a premium.

“In the past for the smartphone you could see Apple leading innovation,” said Richard Yu. “But in the future, you will see innovation led not by them but by Huawei.”

THE BACKGROUND

Started by a former Japanese military officer Kihachiro Onitsuka in 1949, the brand Onitsuka Tiger was born in hopes of raising the spirit and health of the postwar youth in Japan through athletics.

The first shoe ever developed by the brand was for basketball with anti-slip sole and a suction patterning on the outsole, which would remain an iconic staple in future designs.

The company later branched out to develop a running shoe that prevented blisters and managed to convince even the legendary Olympic-champion barefoot runner Abebe Bikila to wear shoes for the first time in his running career.

The brand gained global popularity for its premium performance running shoes during the 1966 pre-trial for Olympics 1968 in Mexico. The introduced shoe, formerly known as Limber, adorned the distinctive crossed stripes that became the trademark of the brand.

ASICS brand series

The original ‘Limber’ edition that was renamed Mexico 66 to mark its rise to fame. Credit: size?.

In 1977, the company changed its name to ASICS after merging with sportswear-manufacturer GTO, and knitwear-manufacturer Jelenk. The name is an acronym derived from the latin phrase ‘Anima Sana in Corpore Sano’ — a sound mind in a sound body.

The ‘Onitsuka Tigers’ are now the ASICS vintage line and still offered at stores.

THE CHALLENGE

ASICS has successfully created a name for itself among amateur and professional athletes as a trusted performance brand through a range of high quality footwear made for running, tennis, wrestling, and volleyball.

Alistair Cameron, CEO of ASICS EMEA, admitted, however, that the brand was only ‘internally’ well known. More than half of the participants in the 2011 New York marathon wore ASICS running shoes but not everyone could identify the brand.

The company decided to increase its reach by focusing on lifestyle-oriented products to become known for more than just a good running shoe.

THE INNOVATION

In 2013, the brand launched a year-long multi-channel global campaign called ‘The Journey of Improvement’ that was delivered across television, print, and ASICS’ social channels.

Aimed to encourage people to develop and improve their exercise regime with the slogan ‘Better Your Best’, ASICS emphasized the importance of tech and product innovation to stimulate, motivate and inspire others.

ASICS brand series

ASICS video campaign showing its product in everyday scenarios.

The company also launched its mobile app MY ASICS in 2013 to complement and improve its training program. The app was able to track the runners’ time and distance and customize training to fit each runner, greatly improving a user’s experience.

In addition to enhancing its digital capabilities, ASICS decided to appeal to new demographics. By combining sports performance and the distinctive cult cumulated by Onitsuka Tiger sneakerheads, the company introduced the label ‘Asics Tiger’ to serve the luxury sports lifestyle market.

Asics Tiger offers trendy designs and collaborates with famous domestic and overseas sneaker boutiques including Colette in Paris, Slam Jam in Milan, and Patta in Amsterdam to target the younger, more fashionable, and streetwear conscious enthusiasts.

An example of this is the Gel-Kayano Trainer Knit that ASICS is marketing through a series of videos highlighting creatives around the world – wearing the Knits, of course.

 

ASICS brand series

First promotional video for Gel-Kayano Trainer Knit featuring video stars London-based model and visual artist Daniel Pacitti. Source: ASICS Youtube.

ASICS brand series

Asics Tiger concept store in Japan.

“We wanted to evolve the core of the brand’s heritage. To achieve this, we designed a bold graphic type that can be broken apart and layered over image,” expressed Laura Stein, Creative Director of Brau Mau Design, the company in charge of keeping Asics Tiger fresh.

THE STRATEGY

“Our aim is to now make it [ASICS] become more attractive among sneakerheads and squad leaders,” commented Luca Bacherotti, Regional Managing Director South Europe ASICS.

In order to do so, the company has made use of different labels to target different audiences:  ASICS, Onitsuka Tiger, and Asics Tiger. They give the company image flexibility among audiences and still market the quality they are known for.

“Our strategy is about being number one in running. That won’t change – but there’s a natural affinity to running and other sports. Three out of four people who buy ASICS (products) use it for sport. That’s almost double the rate of the market, which is more like four out of 10 because people use them for leisure also,” said Max Keen, Marketing Manager for ASICS.

In Q1 2017, the company’s consolidated net sales were down four percent due to weak results in the US and Europe whereas, Asia saw an increase of 11.3%.

ASICS has already opened more retail stores in Asia Pacific, including India, Korea and Singapore, as the majority of its sales came from brick and mortar.

ASICS believes that identifying an underserved populace is the key to in-person shopping.

“Around 15-20% of our total sales in the country (India) comes from the online and ecommerce channel while the remaining comes from the physical stores and that is where our focus is. But we are happy with our online sales number,” said Rajat Khurana, Managing Director of ASICS India.

THE FUTURE

The company’s goal is to change the ratio of revenues from its lifestyle labels to 40% from the current 20% ratio.

With the rise of athleisure in retail, customers are placing more importance on meaningful brand identity to choose what to wear and ASICS have taken the necessary steps to evolve its brand story.  

The company seems to be running on the right path in line with Nike and adidas by showing full dedication to multi-channel and will continue to be under the spotlight as a Gold Sponsor for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

THE BACKGROUND

Established in 1995, Wardah is Indonesia’s first halal-cosmetics brand born from parent company Paragon Technology and Innovation (PTI). Halal refers to what is “permissible” or “lawful” in traditional Islamic law.

In a country where muslims make up more than 87% of the population, Wardah has gained popularity among young Indonesian women, especially by focusing on halal-compliant products.

The brand claimed to control approximately 30% of the market’s makeup segment and was identified as the only Indonesian cosmetics brand to record sales growth of more than 20% in 2015-2016.

Among Indonesians, Wardah is known as an affordable brand as the company’s 300 cosmetics products in makeup, skincare, and fragrance are within a price range of IDR 16,000 – IDR 667,000 ($1.20 – $50).

The company currently offers its products at 22,000 store locations in Indonesia and Malaysia and partnered with Symon AnMi to sell an assortment of products in Bangladesh.

In addition to offline stores, they’re also selling on marketplaces like Lazada and Sociolla while their brand.com serves as only a catalog and resource for company information.

THE CHALLENGE

In the years following Wardah’s inception, it remained small and local because its marketing strategy projected a brand exclusively catered to muslims and relied on a multi-level marketing (MLM) strategy to reach people in Pesantren, an Islamic boarding school.

“It’s really hard at first to sell halal cosmetics, people even accused me of selling religion,” said Nurhayati Subakat, Wardah’s Founder and Owner.

For so long, Wardah products could only be found at salon counters because it was unable to compete with both local and global cosmetics brands such as Sariayu Martha Tilaar, Mustika Ratu, and L’Oreal.

THE INNOVATION

To improve the company’s image, Wardah began to push more inclusive campaigns that included models without hijabs published across television ads and print media.

Its message was clear, Wardah halal-cosmetics are not only for muslims or hijab-wearing individuals. 

Halal Cosmestics Wardah

Wardah’s advertisement featuring famous Indonesian actresses from different generations

The company’s popularity was also given a boost after it became the official sponsor of Indonesian box-office movie “99 Cahaya di Langit Eropa” (99 Lights in European Sky). Since then, Wardah has regularly been spotted partnering with larger scale movie productions and fashion events by Indonesian designers.

One of these designers is Anniesa Hasibuan, the first Indonesian to present a New York Fashion Week collection that also incorporated hijabs.

Halal Cosmestics Wardah

Anniesa Hasibuan’s NYFW 2017 collection sponsored by Wardah

She also uses her runway to address current global issues by employing immigrant-only models for her shows. Hasibuan’s powerful representation of the ‘modern muslim woman’ is a strong message that Wardah wants to associate its brand with as it speaks to the company’s target demographic.

“I’m here bringing the beautiful voice of the Muslim women, the peace and the universal values that fashion can offer,” expressed Hasibuan.

THE STRATEGY

Following its endorsement of Hasibuan, the company is further positioning itself as a prestigious brand for active and worldly young women by working with famous female public figures to become their brand ambassadors.

halal cosmetics wardah

Wardah’s Brand Ambassadors

The brand’s strategy continues to bathe in the fashion and celebrity limelight. Rightly so as 68.4% people in Indonesia have made a purchase influenced by celebrity endorsements according to a survey by MarkPlus Insight.

“We know that before Wardah is considered as an old (brand), now Alhamdulillah we are becoming more modern,” admitted Subakat.

halal cosmetics wardah

Face & Body category scored 7.28 in the scale of 1 to 10 of how likely is celebrity endorsement affecting intention to purchase.

Understanding that fashion and cosmetics go hand in hand, the brand has organised its annual Wardah Fashion Awards competition since last year to scout young, aspiring designers and empower them to grow as fashion-preneurs.

“Progress in the fashion industry will help the cosmetics industry, especially here in Indonesia,” explained Rifina Affandi, Wardah Brand Manager.

The participants in the program are mentored in design innovation as well as business strategy before showcasing their creations in a fashion show where the models sport Wardah products.

The company was also the official makeup partner for Asia Islamic Fashion Week that was held in Kuala Lumpur last April.

“Our participation in this event is to strengthen our position in global market, as Asia is geared to be the center of the world’s Islamic fashion,” said Salman Subakat, Wardah Marketing Director.

All of their efforts and sponsorship dollars have not gone to waste. Starting as a virtually unknown brand a decade ago, Wardah has now recorded nearly 50% growth in annual revenue in 2016.

THE FUTURE

Though Wardah has made large strides in Indonesia, the company is not satisfied with only one market and is eyeing expansion to other countries.

“We want to extend our [domestic] success to the global market, especially in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),” said Nurhayati Subakat.

Not surprising as the Halal cosmetics market is expected to reach $54 billion in 2022.