When Casetify CEO Wes Ng co-founded the corporation (originally termed Casetagram) in 2011, he was capitalising on Gen Z’s like of social media by presenting a easy services that enabled persons to print their favorite Instagram snaps on to Apple iphone case covers.
9 yrs later on, the enterprise has advanced into a successful world wide life style manufacturer that delivers a variety of components from Iphone circumstances to UV sanitisers, numerous of which can be customised in accordance to color, print, even someone’s initials.
Armed with a big social media and superstar adhering to, the business has carved its possess area of interest by collaborating with manufacturers such as designer Thom Browne and shipping enterprise DHL on minimal-version collections.
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Previously this calendar year, Ng experienced prepared to expand the brand’s retail footprint and start offline strategies in important markets like the US, until finally the pandemic hit. As a final result, the company was compelled to diversify, resulting in a banner 12 months that noticed a development in profits and staff that far exceeded anticipations.
We sat down with Ng to talk about the classes figured out for the duration of the pandemic and how to go on participating with buyers in unsure instances.
“When the pandemic initial broke out in China, our factories had been pressured to shut down due to limitations enforced by the Chinese government. We had in no way seen everything like this come about right before. As most of our solutions are produced (in China) we ended up fearful about supply, specially simply because we have been however getting orders from our top 5 marketplaces like the US.
“This forced us to produce a strategy B, which was to diversify our manufacturing, even even though the best factories are in China. Fortuitously, within a thirty day period, manufacturing was back to regular, but it was critical we created this alter in get to endure.”
“(The pandemic) also opened the doorway for us to experiment with new merchandise. After the virus had spread globally, there was a enormous lack of professional medical materials these types of as face masks. We ended up debating internally no matter if we must create them as it was quick to change our production line. I was apprehensive, as I have always been wary of staying real to our brand name philosophy, but my team insisted that if we had the sources and could offer you a excellent merchandise it would be helpful.
“We went ahead and even introduced a ‘buy one donate one’ marketing campaign exactly where for each mask offered, we donated a single to a medical employee. (The traction) was remarkable, all the whilst encouraging persons. Even though revenue are no more time at their peak, we are nevertheless continuing to produce masks because buyers maintain coming back for them.
“We ended up also in a position to market-test solutions we had been establishing for months, these kinds of as the UV Phone Sanitizer. When we 1st arrived up with the idea, we were not absolutely sure if it was a merchandise the earth needed, but the pandemic was an opportune time. It also taught me the importance of pooling extra resources into analysis and growth – certain goods can do very well if it truly is the ideal timing.”
Bricks and mortar
“Although ideas in marketplaces these kinds of as the US arrived to a standstill, we have been capable to expand our bricks and mortar footprint in Hong Kong. We have been centered on the net for nine yrs, but when I appear at the customer’s conduct it is not just about searching on the website. As a lifestyle brand you require to be where by people today are paying out their time and that is at malls.
“Initially we prepared to open and examination two retailers. Even so, the pandemic has meant that we have leverage with landlords, so we are also having the opportunity to open up 5 suppliers this 12 months in Hong Kong on your own, which includes our newest at Competition Stroll.
“Retail has exceeded our anticipations since we figured out a system that will work very well for us – we are furnishing fast gratification by permitting purchasers to customise their mobile phone circumstance at the retail outlet and acquire it residence with them.
“Our biggest demographic is the Instagram era who enjoy taking selfies, so it is also vital to develop an encounter at the keep, which they can share with some others. This will have to be one of a kind and pertinent to the brand name. Our Landmark (mall) retail store, for case in point, consists of a ‘secret’ area that individuals only know about via term of mouth, earning it far more of a discovery. We alter the concept and style and design when we have a new product or collaboration. It really is a little something memorable and fun for customers to share on social media.”
“We have benefited from the fact that individuals are remaining at household more and are looking for tech-linked products and solutions that are enhancing their expertise, be it Macbook handles or phone situations. Black Friday for us was our highest grossing on history because we started. The new social norm has designed new client behaviours.
“In general, our business has developed, and there is certainly not just one single place that has spiked throughout the pandemic. Our major marketplaces are continue to the US, Japan, Korea and the Uk. Hong Kong ideally will be a part of the top five. We are not in China formally still, but we’ve witnessed a ton of resellers stocking our item on Taobao, which is interesting as we have completed no marketing (in mainland China).” (Taobao is owned by Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Submit.)
“We are even now a youthful company of all around 200 individuals and expanding. We have employed 20 per cent more workers this year, which is excellent at a time when other companies are acquiring to downsize.”
Weathering the storm
“It truly is significant to diversify your business – not just your profits stream, but also your staff construction. We are extra open-minded about distant performing than at any time prior to. We have groups in the two Hong Kong and Los Angeles, but we are now opening to hiring individuals from other towns.
“Becoming distant has not intended that we are less productive. I made use of to invest a single to two months in Los Angeles, perform like outrageous then occur dwelling and slow down for a little bit. Now we are so employed to movie calls and Zoom that we have a tendency to be additional efficient and have basically enhanced our conversation channels.”
Going through an uncertain potential
“This pandemic is not likely absent any time shortly, so it can be about changing our gross sales forecasts in the future two many years. I believe the global economic climate may perhaps get even worse, but we can’t forecast anything nevertheless. I do know up coming calendar year will get tougher, so we are nonetheless in survival method.
“Because of this, our tactic now is to be adaptable. It is essential that you design and style an organisation in which you can react rapid. It really is all about pace and being agile. Additional importantly, it can be about producing goods people today have to have as opposed to merchandise that will market. That is just one issue I have believed in from the commencing. When you generate a products that you believe will support or increase people’s life, then you will do it with conviction and folks will come to feel that. The merchandise is, and should really normally be, the most critical thing.”
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This report originally appeared on the South China Early morning Publish (www.scmp.com), the main information media reporting on China and Asia.
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