When Casetify CEO Wes Ng co-started the firm (at first referred to as Casetagram) in 2011, he was capitalising on Gen Z’s enjoy of social media by giving a easy company that enabled people to print their favorite Instagram snaps onto Iphone scenario covers.
9 years later on, the firm has advanced into a successful world-wide way of life brand name that features a vary of equipment from Iphone instances to UV sanitisers, several of which can be customised according to colour, print, even someone’s initials.
Armed with a big social media and movie star next, the company has carved its have market by collaborating with makes which includes designer Thom Browne and transport organization DHL on restricted-version collections.
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Before this yr, Ng had prepared to grow the brand’s retail footprint and launch offline campaigns in critical markets like the US, right up until the pandemic hit. As a consequence, the business was forced to diversify, resulting in a banner 12 months that observed a development in income and staff members that significantly exceeded anticipations.
We sat down with Ng to focus on the lessons learned throughout the pandemic and how to keep on partaking with consumers in uncertain periods.
“When the pandemic very first broke out in China, our factories have been pressured to shut down owing to constraints enforced by the Chinese authorities. We experienced never seen just about anything like this transpire in advance of. As most of our products are built (in China) we were being concerned about provide, particularly because we ended up still obtaining orders from our major 5 markets like the US.
“This forced us to build a approach B, which was to diversify our generation, even while the most effective factories are in China. Luckily, inside of a month, production was again to ordinary, but it was essential we created this change in buy to survive.”
“(The pandemic) also opened the door for us to experiment with new solutions. Once the virus had spread globally, there was a enormous shortage of health care provides these as encounter masks. We had been debating internally irrespective of whether we should deliver them as it was quick to change our output line. I was apprehensive, as I have often been cautious of remaining real to our manufacturer philosophy, but my team insisted that if we had the sources and could present a top quality merchandise it would be useful.
“We went in advance and even introduced a ‘buy one donate one’ marketing campaign exactly where for every single mask sold, we donated 1 to a health care employee. (The traction) was astounding, all the whilst helping individuals. Even though profits are no for a longer time at their peak, we are still continuing to generate masks because consumers retain coming again for them.
“We were also in a position to industry-test solutions we experienced been acquiring for months, these kinds of as the UV Cellphone Sanitizer. When we initially arrived up with the thought, we were being not absolutely sure if it was a products the entire world required, but the pandemic was an opportune time. It also taught me the great importance of pooling far more means into study and growth – sure items can do nicely if it’s the right timing.”
Bricks and mortar
“Though ideas in markets these kinds of as the US came to a standstill, we have been capable to grow our bricks and mortar footprint in Hong Kong. We have been primarily based online for nine a long time, but when I search at the customer’s behaviour it is not just about searching on the net. As a way of life brand name you want to be exactly where persons are investing their time and that is at malls.
“Initially we planned to open and test two shops. Even so, the pandemic has meant that we have leverage with landlords, so we are also having the chance to open up 5 suppliers this 12 months in Hong Kong on your own, such as our most current at Competition Walk.
“Retail has exceeded our anticipations due to the fact we figured out a technique that functions properly for us – we are furnishing instant gratification by letting purchasers to customise their cellular phone case at the retail store and take it residence with them.
“Our largest demographic is the Instagram technology who enjoy using selfies, so it is also vital to generate an experience at the retailer, which they can share with other folks. This must be one of a kind and appropriate to the manufacturer. Our Landmark (mall) retail store, for instance, contains a ‘secret’ space that persons only know about by way of phrase of mouth, creating it far more of a discovery. We change the theme and structure when we have a new solution or collaboration. It truly is a thing unforgettable and fun for buyers to share on social media.”
“We have benefited from the fact that people are remaining at household much more and are wanting for tech-linked solutions that are enhancing their practical experience, be it Macbook covers or mobile phone instances. Black Friday for us was our greatest grossing on record considering that we started off. The new social norm has made new buyer behaviours.
“In normal, our company has developed, and you will find not just just one solitary country that has spiked throughout the pandemic. Our leading marketplaces are still the US, Japan, Korea and the British isles. Hong Kong with any luck , will sign up for the top five. We are not in China formally nevertheless, but we’ve found a whole lot of resellers stocking our product or service on Taobao, which is fascinating as we have accomplished no marketing (in mainland China).” (Taobao is owned by Alibaba, which owns the South China Early morning Put up.)
“We are nevertheless a young firm of all over 200 people today and rising. We have hired 20 for every cent much more staff this calendar year, which is fantastic at a time when other firms are obtaining to downsize.”
Weathering the storm
“It truly is vital to diversify your company – not just your revenue stream, but also your team construction. We are far more open up-minded about remote operating than at any time prior to. We have teams in the two Hong Kong and Los Angeles, but we are now opening to hiring folks from other towns.
“Being distant has not intended that we are much less effective. I utilized to shell out a single to two months in Los Angeles, perform like outrageous then come home and gradual down for a bit. Now we are so made use of to movie phone calls and Zoom that we are inclined to be extra successful and have essentially enhanced our communication channels.”
Going through an uncertain upcoming
“This pandemic is not likely absent any time soon, so it can be about adjusting our revenue forecasts in the subsequent two years. I imagine the international financial system may perhaps get worse, but we are unable to predict everything nonetheless. I do know upcoming 12 months will get harder, so we are however in survival method.
“Simply because of this, our method now is to be adaptable. It is really significant that you design an organisation the place you can respond rapid. It truly is all about speed and staying agile. A lot more importantly, it’s about creating merchandise people today have to have vs . goods that will sell. That is a single factor I have believed in from the commencing. When you produce a products that you think will assist or boost people’s life, then you will do it with conviction and men and women will truly feel that. The item is, and ought to usually be, the most crucial matter.”
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This posting originally appeared on the South China Early morning Post (www.scmp.com), the primary news media reporting on China and Asia.
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