For the past 123 years, Yeo’s (Yeo Hiap Seng) has cornered the chrysanthemum tea market with its affordable, thirst-quenching drinks. Its yellow cans are an everyday sight in coffeeshops and supermarkets across Singapore and Malaysia, as well as China and Indonesia. What’s next for this multimillion-dollar brand? Here, we talk to CEO Ong Yuh Hwang who tells us how Yeo’s is using the power of storytelling to connect with a new generation of consumers.
For a long time, our drinks have been beloved and ubiquitous, but humble in their presence. They may be a household staple, but they did not necessarily command the attention of the room. To address this, we recently worked with three partners who are all experts in their field, to relaunch our brand – Singapore’s very own world-class horticultural destination Gardens by the Bay (GBTB), award-winning botanical studio This Humid House (THH) and global creative agency Forsman & Bodenfors.
In September and October, we opened the pop-up Yeo’s Drinkable Garden at GBTB. Visitors were able to experience the goodness of nature within a multi-sensorial atmosphere. Not only could they see and smell the flowers, they were also able to taste them in the form of our chrysanthemum tea.
The Drinkable Garden demonstrated how the unassuming chrysanthemum tea can be a source of health and nourishment, while also sharing how Yeo’s preserves nature’s goodness in the process of brewing our teas. It was a part of our strategy to refresh this century-old brand and capture the attention – and love – of a new audience.
These days, it is not enough to simply have a delicious product. Competition is stiff when it comes to the beverage industry, and that can be easily forgotten when the next new thing comes along. So we want our fans to keep coming back for more; we want our products to be irresistible.
“For a long time, our drinks have been beloved and ubiquitous, but humble in their presence”
A new generation of consumers is curious about the story of the brand and what goes on behind the scenes.
Storytelling might not be the focus of many longstanding brands. Some have made their mark by creating a good product, scaling operations and capturing market share. Such innovations and expert execution have got them to where they are today – and that’s a laudable achievement.
But leaning into rich storytelling can be an invaluable opportunity, especially for a brand that already has a strong history.
Leveraging on Yeo’s firm foothold in the region for our well-loved drinks, we are moving into an age where we are attempting to be more daring and different when it comes to our brand image. Yeo’s Drinkable Garden was our first campaign that involved brand partnerships and an immersive approach.
When we decided to focus on the story of our drink’s healthful origins, GBTB and THH naturally came to mind. One is a global horticultural tourist destination while the other is a highly sought after, award-winning botanical studio. Both are strong local brands that champion the goodness and beauty of nature, so I daresay that there are no better partners to work with for a project like this.
Aside from seeking out like-minded brands to tell our story, trust is also a key part of the process. There are so many variables involved when trying something new. But if you’ve chosen your partners well, then you can trust that they will use their expert knowledge so that you can reach your common desired outcomes together. It’s been an extremely rewarding process, and we’re looking forward to more of such partnerships in this next stage of the brand’s growth.
As told to Michelle JN Lim