Tako Chang

Tako Chang

Tako Chang, the marketing extraordinaire behind North America's best bar, shares her invaluable expeirences in executing successful marketing campaigns in the dinks industry from Heineken to her most recent project with DCP, and how to scale up a local drinks business.

Vino Joy News: Since you’ve been leading marketing campaigns across different cities – can you tell us the commonalities and/or differences in the way(s) of marketing to consumers from different regions from your experience?

Tako: Well, this is a great question! It is also what draws me into the Marketing world! Based on my personal experiences with marketing it is all about the strategies, approaches and the commercial results.

When it comes to marketing a campaign across different cities, countries or even platforms, the strategies and approach can vary significantly based on the consumers, cultures, economic status and the social differences. While it is essential to consider each region’s unique characteristics, some of the commonalities can also be the differences or vice versa.

When I am planning and conducting a marketing plan(strategy), here are some of the marketing factors to put into consideration: Industry study, cultural factors, the community, consumer behavior and preferences, communication channels, communication language, localization and some regulation or legal considerations which may need to be mindful of.

Tako Chang
Tako Chang

Vino Joy News: In terms of drinking culture and preference on taste, what are the major differences from consumers in Asian cities and NYC?

Tako: Based on personal observations, the major differences can be alcohol consumption habits. In Asia, come countries have a strong culture of social drinking, often centered around meals or specific occasions. Drinking in Asian cities can be more formal and ritualistic with specific etiquettes and customs. In contrast, New York City has a more diverse and liberal drinking culture with a variety of drinking establishments and a focus on socializing, lifestyle and entertainment.

Alcohol types is an interesting fact – Asian cities have a wide range of traditional alcoholic beverages specific to each country or region.

For instance, sake in Japan, soju in South Korea, baijiu in China or some traditional rice wine in various Southeast Asian countries. In New York City, there is a greater emphasis on a variety of international alcoholic beverages such as craft beers, spirits, cocktails and wine from around the world.

And for the taste preference, while Asian cities may have a preference for sweeter, fruity or floral alcoholic beverages. Traditional drinks like sake or soju can have a very delicate flavor. In New York City, there is a more diverse range of taste preferences due to the multicultural nature of the city. The preferences can also range from classic cocktails to bold and innovative flavor combinations.

Vino Joy News: What are the major differences in the way of marketing for on-trade and off-trade channels in your opinion?

Tako: In my opinion, there might be over hundreds of differences when it comes to on/off trade strategies in the marketing world. However, all the differences are aiming to achieve one or two goals. The nature of the on-trade and off-trade channels can differ significantly due to the purpose of its business and the target audience they serve.

Some of the major differences on the top of my head are “target audiences”, “point of purchase”, “marketing communication”, “branding & packaging”, “customer relationship management” and “promotions & incentives”. All of these above are the differences that set on and off trade so different, distinguish the differences and diving into the fact sheets is essential for tailoring a marketing strategy to effectively reach to the target audience in order to meet the business goals in both on and off trade channels.

Vino Joy News: The lockdown during the pandemic was hitting the food and drinks industry hard. When you first joined DCP, how did you manage to differentiate the business and optimize the exposure to consumers?

Tako: To be honest and frankly speaking, looking back we did not spend time on the marketing when we first opened the door. Double Chicken Please opened during the peak of the peak in pandemic.

Rather than planning on marketing, our heads were fighting with uncertainties and thinking “How do we survive?”, “Why are we doing this?”, “How do we feed everyone?”, “Can we do cocktails-to-go? Oh we can’t due to the regulations”, “If we make it through today, how about tomorrow?”, “S***! I tested covid”, “I received a text from a staff member who just tested positive.”, “We have to close for a week because half of the team are down”, “The construction team decided not to come anymore…”

Haha… That’s pretty much what we’ve been dealing with since the door opened for months (operational focused rather than marketing) – to survive and sustain the business during covid and troubleshooting every day.

DCP is voted best bar in North America's 50 Best Bars.
DCP is voted best bar on North America’s 50 Best Bars list.

Vino Joy News: What are the best ways to keep up with the local market trends and consumer preferences?

Tako: Observe the market, listen to your community, stay open minded and not judgemental, be curious and most importantly – Live in it!

Vino Joy News: For a local drinks business to scale up and globalize, what are the key elements in terms of the brand positioning?

Tako: I think there are a few key elements to consider in terms of brand positioning, and the two key ones are value proposition and strong brand story and identity.

To have a unique value proposition, define a unique selling proposition that differentiates yourself and identify the core qualities or features of the product that set it apart and appeal to the target market (such as taste, quality, ingredient or cultural authenticity).

Secondly, the brand story and identity, to craft a compelling brand story that captures the eyeballs, highlight the brand’s origin, authenticity, craftsmanship or unique production methods. Develop a strong identity which evokes the desired emotions and perceptions in the target market to reflect the brand’s values, personality and positioning.

Vino Joy News: What are the best ways to maximize the outcome from a marketing campaign when the company’s budget and resources are limited?

Tako: Don’t we all marketers wish to have a fat budget to spend on campaigns? It is usually not the case… hahaha.

A few boxes in my checklists which I always look into when it comes to limited resources or budget are: 1) Define clear objectives, 2) Prioritize channels, 3) Leverage content marketing, 4) Strategic collaborate partnership or micro influencers, 5) Optimize digital marketing, 6) Utilize content-generate marketing, 7) Leverage existing audiences and 8) Focus on high ROI tactics. It is also important how we strategically allocate and utilize the existing resources to make a meaningful impact. Be strategic and focused with the approaches!

Vino Joy News: How has social media taken over as the major channel of marketing in the recent decade?

Tako: Let’s look at the number of 2.35 billion active Instagram account users (some of them may have a few handles under 1 user account!) Isn’t it crazy? Social media has definitely emerged as a major channel of marketing!

It transforms the way businesses connect with their target audience and community. Some key factors such as the widespread adoption with the explosive growth globally, billions of people actively use platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube making them highly attractive for businesses to reach a large and diverse audience. Social media provide powerful targeting capabilities, targeted advertising allowing businesses to define their ideal or desired audience based on demographics, genders, interests, behaviors etc.

Visual Content Dominance, “a picture is worth a thousand words” – there is no doubt in this saying! A business or a brand can convey messages effectively, leverage compelling visuals to capture attention and evoke emotional responses (Instagram is a great example for visual storytelling).

Compared to traditional marketing channels, social media marketing often offers a much more cost-effective option for businesses, especially for start-up enterprises. It allows businesses to reach and build a wider audience with lower budgets, there are advertising options available such as pay-per-click, cost-per-impression or cost-per-engagement etc.

Influencer marketing definitely plays a big factor nowadays! Social media provides a platform where brands or businesses collaborate with influential individuals or figures who have large followings on social presence. Influencers can help promote a brand, product or a service to showcase brand experiences and to influence their audiences’ purchasing decisions also to expand the numbers of reach.

The list goes on… Social media has become a main marketing channel by its immense user base, targeting capabilities, engagement opportunities, visual driven, cost effectiveness. Its dynamic and interactive nature has revolutionized the way businesses connect with the audience and establish the brand presence in the digital landscape.

Vino Joy News: How has your hospitality and front of house experience in DCP helped you refine your branding strategies for the company?

Tako: To start this topic, this is my very first Front of House experience! And it helps me in so many various ways! Most importantly, it provides me valuable insights and skills that can be leveraged in marketing strategies with no doubt. Customer understanding, we directly interact with guests on a daily basis, gaining first-hand knowledge of their preferences and needs, this understanding of guest behavior and expectations can inform marketing strategies, ensuring our messages and campaign resonate with the guests.

The brand ambassadorship! Can’t deny being part of the FOH team, we represent the brand’s values and deliver exceptional guest experiences. The insights and perspectives can contribute to shaping marketing messages that accurately reflect the brand identity and resonate with the target audience, also we share stories about the brand, concepts, products and services with guests. This storytelling ability can be leveraged in marketing campaigns to create compelling narratives that resonate with the guest to evoke emotions and establish a deeper connection with the brand, at the same time to ensure the brand image, identity and messaging are consistent, error-free, and aligned with the brand’s marketing strategies.

Not everything is all glam and pretty, crisis management is also a part of it, being in the FOH team often handles challenging situations or troubleshooting. The experience in managing crises can be valuable in developing crisis communication plans and addressing guest concerns effectively, at the same time receiving feedback and insights come into play too. The feedback can be used to improve marketing strategies, refine products or services, and address guests’ concerns or preferences proactively to enhance the reputation and trust in the brand.

By tapping into the expertise and being part of the FOH teams, it helps to incorporate a guest-centric approach into the marketing strategies, leading to more effective campaigns and to enhance guest experience also to increased brand loyalty.

Vino Joy News: What’s your marketing advice for smaller startup companies in the drinks industry?

Tako: Building a brand takes time and consistent effort. Be creative, persistent, adaptable, stay true to yourself and continue to refine your marketing strategies as you learn more about your target market and the industry. Most importantly, stay presence and always serve with intention!

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