VITAGEN, the leader in the local cultured-milk market with over 60% share, will continue its advertising and promotional (A&P) activities to remain top-most on consumers’ minds.
Cotra Enterprises Sdn Bhd deputy general manager Michael Ong says the company spent not less than RM10mil on A&P for Vitagen last year, and it will at least maintain the level of spending this year to enhance the brand value.
Cotra is the trading arm of Malaysia Milk Sdn Bhd, the manufacturer and owner of Vitagen. The product is widely distributed in Malaysia and Singapore.
Ong says the growth of the cultured-milk market is promising as Malaysians are getting more health-conscious and this is expected to push up demand for such products.
However, he says the cultured-milk market is highly competitive, but adds that competition is healthy as it improves the market players’ commitment to provide better products and services.
“We expect to grow (revenue) by double digit this year,” he tells StarBizWeek, but declined to disclose any figures.
He says the big issue for cultured-milk companies is the limited chiller facilities in the retail market as it is not within the manufacturers’ control but the retailers’.
“Another challenge is responding to clients on time in terms of servicing. The product has a short shelf life, which has to be monitored and replenished,” he says.
As part of its marketing strategy and for doing its part for the community, the company will also continue to spend on corporate social responsibility programmes.
As a strong advocate of prevention through education, Malaysia Milk has embarked on an education campaign – Vitagen Healthy Tummies Programme (VHTP) – along with various expert organisations such as the Malaysian Society of Gastroenterology and Hepatology to encourage good digestive health.
The company plans to spend about RM1.5mil this year for VHTP. Ong says the primary media for Vitagen is TV but it also invests significantly in the print media.
“We do realise the importance of social media and we are looking at this platform to see how we can play a role. As a progressive company, we can’t ignore the changing landscape of the media. Thus, we will use any medium that is effective for our brand,” says Ong.
“We have our own research and development arm to be innovative and enhance our products. We are talking about repeat purchase cycles, which is important for our business,” he says.
He says Malaysia Milk is driven by innovation and seeks to meet specific consumer needs. Hence, Vitagen has been expanded to appeal to all categories of Malaysians.
“We have three Vitagen products – Vitagen Regular, Vitagen Less Sugar and Vitagen Collagen,” he says. He says Vitagen Regular, which was launched in 1977 in Malaysia, has always been perceived as a drink for kids.
“That is not true as Vitagen Regular is for everyone. Good digestive health is for everyone,” he says.
To encourage more adults to consume Vitagen, the company launched the Vitagen Less Sugar three years ago.
“Vitagen Collagen also has less sugar, but with added collagen, which is targeted toward women. However, everyone can drink it,” he says.
As a consumer-centric corporation, the company also offers home delivery services for the convenience of consumers.
Asked whether the company will adjust its selling price, Ong says company would try to hold the current price for as long as it can. The last price adjustment was in 2008.
Today, Malaysia Milk has established itself as a leading food and beverage manufacturer with Vitagen as its flagship product. The company currently has over 19 branches nationwide.
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