Innovation is one of the buzzwords frequently used by marketers. However, for marketers working as guardians of legacy brands, they have to preserve the brand's history and glory, while also offering new products to recruit new customers. As one of Hong Kong's oldest brands with more than 100 years of history, Hang Heung Cake Shop (Hang Heung) has been working on plans to transform itself into a modern brand, while holding true to its DNA of promoting traditional Chinese pastry.
Founded in 1920, Hang Heung started offering dim sum and Cantonese cuisine in the 1940s, and pivoted again in the 1970s to provide customers with Chinese pastries. In a recent interview with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE , CEO of Hang Heung Desmond Wong believed that the brand’s Chinese pastries have the potential to capture the eyeballs worldwide.
"'Innovation with tradition' is my motto. It preserves the brand’s century-old craft with creativity."
Wong added that ,“Tradition means Hang Heung adheres to age-old craftsmanship, while innovation lies in our creative branding that continues to build rapport with old and new customers."
He added that to walk the tightrope between innovation with tradition means that the brand needs to bring innovation to the R&D level with new products and novel menu items. While Wong admitted that innovation isn't what consumers immediately attribute the brand to, Hang Heung still needs it to expand its market share with new customers and maintain a balance between old and new.
Wong added that on a personal front, he has been a fan of Hang Heung's wife cakes, which are also known as winter melon cakes, from his early years as a child. Wong then became the brand's shareholder in 2017 and since taking up the rein as CEO, he has made three major changes:
1. Expanding the business overseas;
2. Revolutionising the brand's online shop;
3. Rejuvenating the brand to attract a younger audience.
Business strategy and new flavours
In 2020, Hang Heung’s website was upgraded from an informative interface to a convenient eShop. According to Wong, Hang Heung's eCommerce sales last year were "explosive". Wong attributed the success to the second upgrade in the same year which was complemented with effective online promotions, tapping into new customer shopping behaviours as a result of the pandemic.
eCommerce must leverage social media and use resources to enhance public awareness in both the brand and products.
Meanwhile, to attract younger segments of customers, Hang Heung’s efforts in brand rejuvenation include new packaging designs and collaborations with popular brands. "We are refreshing our offerings by injecting new elements into the traditional menu, such as including low-sugar mooncakes and wife cakes. We also worked with Japanese anime character Rilakkuma to bring new package design to customers last Chinese New Year," Wong said. Some of Hang Heung's other collaborations include Hang Heung’s 100th anniversary in partnership with Ngong Ping 360 in 2020 where the “Hang Heung 100 Exhibition cum Eggs-plore 360” event included decorations that recreated scenes from old Hong Kong and egg-hunting games - both of which targeting parents and kids respectively. The number of local visitors at Ngong Ping 360 increased by 800% year on year during the Easter Holiday in 2021.
Last November, Hang Heung also made a foray into the F&B industry after a half-century hiatus with the first Hang Heung Bakery Café in Sheung Wan. As one of Hong Kong's most prominent business districts, the brand hoped to combine traditional Chinese pastries with Hong Kong-style bakeries and cafes, offering more F&B choices to customers living or working in the district.
When it comes to bringing the brand to new markets, Wong shared that the brand has four established stores in Singapore. Moreover, it is also now in active talks with overseas Asian supermarkets and logistics companies to deliver pastries to more people around the world.
In its home ground in Hong Kong, the brand also has ambitious plans of opening more bakeries with in-store kitchens that produce fresh Chinese pastries, egg tarts and pineapple buns. In addition to the previous collaboration with Rilakkuma, Hang Heung is exploring new partnerships with brands popular among young consumers, hoping to add modern creativity to revered traditions.
Lastly, Wong said the company also invests a fair bit in its in-house marketing team which also specialises in market and internal research, long-term planning in brand building and market positioning, and seeking corporate value in every project and for every demographic. "Early planning is essential in our marketing strategy to be a market leader," he added.