PETALING JAYA: Every new risk presents new opportunities for growth. That was aptly referred to as the new normal in the consumer goods industry by Khalid Alvi in the wake of the Covid-19.
As the Etika Group CEO for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, he said one of the most striking changes in light of the pandemic is the rapid change in consumer behaviour.
“This involves more consumers shopping online, relying on convenience stores, shopping from a singular shop rather than moving from one shop to another. This has led to high value shopping in one-go with reduction in the number of transactions compared to the pre-Covid era.
For the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, Khalid said this involves a rapid move to new online sales channels and ensuring that consumers are able to find what they are looking for easily.
For instance, Etika has partnered several popular e-commerce platforms to ensure that consumers are still able to buy their favourite beverages online.
“We are now available on platforms like Lazada and Shopee where we are already seeing our online sales kicking off, ” he noted.
Etika is one of Malaysia’s leading drink distributors. It markets and distributes some of PepsiCo’s global brands such as Pepsi, Tropicana, Mountain Dew, Revive Isotonic, Mirinda, 7Up, Gatorade, Lipton Ice Tea, MUG, Sting and Evervess exclusively in Malaysia.
The company also manufactures, distributes and markets Wonda Coffee and Calpis, plus its own brands like Goodday Milk, Dairy Champ, Kickapoo (a Monarch trademark), Chill Asian Drinks and Bleu Water.
Etika’s acquisition of Advend Systems, he said, is not only an initiative to expand its business portfolio but also a means to expand services to locations with limited accessibility and create a brand presence where physical stores are otherwise not possible.
Early this year, the group acquired Singapore-based vending company Advend Systems Pte Ltd.
Advend Systems is a leading operator, refurbisher of vending machines and systems solution provider for the vending industry.
With this acquisition, Etika is now the No. 1 player in vending with 10,000 vending machines across Malaysia and Singapore.
Being present in multiple high traffic areas and strategic locations, Khalid said it was able to offer consumers a great number of options to purchase and consume their favourite products, including hot and cold beverages like coffee, canned and bottled drinks as well as snacks such as cup noodles.
“This acquisition has also enabled us to offer multiple payment options at our vending machines such as e-wallets, cash, credit cards, contactless payment etc. Be it cashless or cash payments, consumers will be guaranteed convenient, on-the-go access to their favourite beverages and snacks.
“We are now also able to leverage the data from cashless sales transactions from our vending arm to better analyse and understand transaction trends, buying behaviour, sales, seasonality, products types and categories, allowing us deeper insights in the consumer journey and assisting the company to better serve their loyal consumers, ” he noted.
Khalid said innovation lies at the core of Etika’s business principles and would constantly be on the lookout for new ways to innovate its offerings to consumers.
As social distancing becomes a norm, he said brands would also leverage virtual tools to create consumer engagement in the online space.
This is a key trend for the FMCG industry where staying connected with consumers and understanding their needs plays a critical role in product development and innovation, he added. With exploring new channels for product placements, the beverage industry will also need to identify a growing demand for healthier products as consumers place priority on health and wellness.
“Following the rise in consumer preference towards healthier beverage alternatives, Etika launched Wonda Zero Max, a ready-to-drink great tasting coffee with zero added sugar and maximum satisfaction. We also launched Good Vibes range, the non-dairy beverage range by Goodday Milk.
“Another example of innovation is the launch of Pepsi Black, the No. 1 Zero Calorie Cola to-date, which further strengthened our hold in Malaysia’s F&B industry as it takes into account consumers’ changing attitudes and preference for a healthier beverage option. For consumers who love unique variants, there are also options such as Pepsi Black Vanilla and Pepsi Black Lime, “ he said.
Khalid noted as the market evolves, so would the way the group would conduct its business. In a bid to achieve stability and offer more to consumers, he said brands would likely collaborate with each other to offer more convenience to consumers.
Commenting on some of the interesting campaigns that Etika has done to help deepen its brand presence in the local and regional market, Khalid said: “In the spirit of our Etikan culture, Etika has always been involved with the community – whether it is initiating projects to spread goodwill or rewarding their loyal consumers with engaging contests and offers.
“Our zeal to be creative and engaging has enabled us to create top of mind recall for our consumers even as the FMCG industry moves through tides of change, especially seen in recent times.
“Worth taking note of was our Etika Cares initiative, that we announced during the peak of the movement control order (MCO) to extend our support to the frontliners, local businesses and also keep our consumers engaged as the majority of us continued to stay at home.”
Some initiatives under Etika Cares included a beverage drive for frontliners stationed in various hospitals and partnering with local F&B owners. The company was able to reach 10,000 frontliners via this initiative.
Under Etika Cares, Khalid said it also came up with novel tactics to keep people home, safe and entertained. This included organising the first-ever concert from home in Malaysia called Konsert #WONDADiRumah. The star-studded live concert featured up and coming local singers and was aired on television so consumers could enjoy live entertainment right in their homes.
Knowing the communal importance of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, Goodday Milk had put together a record-breaking nation’s largest virtual moreh session under ‘Kekal Sejahtera, Kekal Selamat’ campaign to remind Malaysians to be safe while presenting
an alternative way through which they could still be a part of the community. The campaign also made it into the Malaysia Book of Records.
Come Hari Raya, Goodday Milk launched another digital Raya initiative – ‘Selamat Selebraya’ – which involved a WebAR based (web-based Augmented Reality technology, without the use of an app) 3D celebrity house visit experience. Using the WebAR technology, consumers were able to virtually bring local celebrities to life for house visits during Hari Raya celebration.
“As we moved into the RMCO (Recovery Movement Control Order) and we realised that adhering to social distancing regulations has never been more important, Wonda Coffee once again leveraging digital technologies launched Wonda Gapuccino – A social distancing guide that helps netizens to keep a safe social distance.
“Wonda Gapuccino can easily be accessed via any smart phone browser and gives a visual guide that approximates a safe social distance between individuals to ensure that we abide by the one-to-two meters social distancing rule in dense public places and reduce our exposure risk.
“Leveraging new technologies while tickling our creative bone has helped Etika to work on successful consumer engagement campaigns and maintain our brand presence in the region, even as we observe rapid industry shifts, Khalid added.