A case study – Nam Kee Noodle Shop Company
Integrated Brand and Service Solutions (IBSS) is an important part of building competitive advantage for service firms. It includes four different elements: Marketing Research and Planning, Brand Strategy Development, Service Innovation and Creative Design. Chill Creative Company (Chill) offers all these as part of their IBSS services. Recently CCC worked with Nam Kee Noodle Shop Company to develop a new Brand Strategy for their business. In order to develop the new brand strategy, Chill Creative Company’s CEO Christine Shum and her team held nothing back on their drive to bring Nam Kee Noodle Shop Company back to the spotlight. In order to do this an IBSS was developed specifically for the company.
Background of Case
Nam Kee Noodle Shop Company is a Hong Kong icon with noodle shops in 13 locations all over Hong Kong. The company started its first shop in 1980 by a single-person entrepreneur who originally sold noodles with a single cart. Their signature dish is the spring rolls with fish stuffing noodles and sour and spicy vermicelli and their pickle noodle made by hand daily to give a special unique and secret taste to their noodles. The company has two generations running the service in Hong Kong and the team that worked with CCC were the 2nd generation sons of Nam Kee who wanted to see their company grow to new heights through increased profits and sustain their competitive advantage over the next decade and beyond. Christine Shum and her team worked hand in hand with Joe Ngai and Cyrus Tse who are the Executive Directors of Nam Kee in moving to the next level of innovation for this well respected Hong Kong company.
GAINING INSIGHTS ON THE CUSTOMERS / MARKET TRENDS AND COMPETITION
Chill conducted comprehensive research to develop a strong brand for Nam Kee. As every company and industry faces different challenges, it is important to fine-tune and focus on specific trends and issues that face specific companies. Chill has the skill and expertise necessary to do this. Nam Kee holds a spot within the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry in Hong Kong is extremely saturated with thousands of restaurants and new ones opening monthly. Small restaurants that sell fast food like noodles are seen in many districts of Hong Kong. Competition is therefore fierce and sustaining customer loyalty is not easy. The market is also changing considerably. More people want to eat healthier and organic food whilst the younger generation Y want more variety and better food experiences. At the same time many of the restaurants in the industry are not making sufficient strides in targeting this new generation of consumers and therefore taking advantage of their growing numbers and increased incomes. This generation Y market is a complex one and it is important to conduct detailed research in order to target this market in an effective manner. Chill conducted a detailed market opportunity analysis into the industry and consumer through focus groups, surveys and other means of qualitative research to identify the key brand positioning required for Nam Kee to succeed.
Chill knows that in order for any firm to succeed in the long term, they would need to develop a brand position that clearly communicates the specific and intended meaning within the mind of the consumer. This process is a complex one and Chill’s strong research ensures that the brand position developed will sustain the competitive advantage of the firm. After conducting a market opportunity analysis of the industry, competition, consumer and environmental changes, a new brand extension was developed for Nam Kee called Nam Kee H. The strategy included developing the ‘value-brand attributes’ for the brand extension. In order to develop this strategy, the team also conducted a pre-liminary survey to explore the attitudes of consumers towards the service being provided by the company. Nam Kee H was developed with some new innovative services including a more ‘healthier’ and ‘happy’ and ‘hopeful’ environment that included healthy food, a happy atmosphere with lots of earthy colours and a hopeful feeling with Jason Marz music and quotations shown about inspirational thinking. Most tables had an iPad with access to free wifi so customers could enjoy their meal feeling at home while browsing the internet for information or just relaxing with a video on youtube. Some of the items on the menu were made with more healthier ingredients that included a tomato base as well as more vegetables. Rice noodles were used as it has higher fiber. The staff was trained to be courteous and consistently helpful and friendly. All this led to the successful opening of Nam Kee H a new concept store in the Central District of Hong Kong.
As another element of brand strategy development is to ensure there is preference formation through customer learning, Chill provided strong consultancy to Nam Kee to ensure their brand position will be sustained in the long term. With Nam Kee H, a number of public relations strategies and promotional materials were developed to create customer learning of the value brand attributes for Nam Kee H.
A key part of ensuring the business becomes a challenger instead of just a follower in the market, innovation is critical. Chill has the expertise needed to ensure that the brand strategy has a strong foundation of innovation. Chill provides all of the facets of service innovation including service quality enhancements, physical environment, process (or operations) and service value development. Chill looked into the original Nam Kee shops in Hong Kong and with the research developed in stage 1 provided service innovation strategies for the new brand to provide a more innovative service to the Generation Y market. These included service quality training for staff, design of the physical environment, re-development of the service process and including new services to create better value.
Chill holds two distinctive competitive advantages. One is the research expertise required to develop strong brands and the other significant one is the Creative Design skill. The Director of Chill is well known in the industry as a designer with very unique skills. Christine Shum is not a follower neither does she copy – all her ideas are unique and specific to the brand. Due to this, clients continue to come back consistently to develop their designs and brands.