In Asia, it’s hard to picture life without rice. A staple in every kitchen, rice literally feeds entire communities and has been the primary source of nutrition for entire generations. It’s no surprise then that being in the business of providing rice to the many families that need it is a very complex and intriguing industry.
Vynce Lim originally had her sights set on being a solid creative designer, but things don’t always go the way we plan them – and she is now the Group Head of Marketing at Serba Wangi, one of the leading providers of rice in Malaysia. Join us in this issue of the Marketing Expert Series to find out more about Vynce’s fascinating background and her drive to succeed.
Hi, Vynce, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with something a bit general, please tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get to where you are now?
Hi Olwen! It is an honour and thank you for having me.
I had good results in high school, majoring in the science stream. My friends and family expected that I would take the usual path to become a doctor, lawyer, or accountant, but went on to complete tertiary education in Graphics & Advertising, catching them all by surprise. I started off as a creative designer in an advertising agency. At the time, my goal was to be one of the top creative directors and I didn’t expect that I would end up in marketing.
Senheng Electric Malaysia (Mr KH Lim) was the pivot point for me, offering a stepping-stone as their Head of Advertising & Promotions when I chanced upon the career curves from Design to Marketing. I’ve had an exciting portfolio journey where my responsibility was not limited to the electrical retail industry. Together with the team, we rebuilt Pet’s Retail, Loyalty program, Telecommunication and many more as the business diversified and new brands were acquired or established.
Eventually, I had to step down due to health issues and joined XOX Mobile as a brand manager, pioneering their brand division. Later, I found that I still prefer a fast-paced environment and leading marketing initiatives, so I re-joined the retail industry as Marketing Manager in OGAWA Malaysia. From there I decided I wanted to enhance my business acumen and completed my Master in Business & Administration in 2019. Throughout the year, I built more of my portfolios as a Marketing consultant in several retail-based industries from home improvement, beauty, to gold and jewellery.
And here I am today, as Group Head of Marketing in Serba Wangi Pvt Ltd. Blessed with an enthusiastic reporting director (Mr. Z Low) empowering me with a team of great comrades, I realized that the marketing landscape is dynamic and I’m always learning to better myself and the team professionally in business and marketing from different aspects. Indeed, the team played an essential role in my career path.
You’re the Head of Marketing at Serba Wangi. Can you tell us a bit about Serba Wangi?
Serba Wangi Pvt. Ltd. has been one of the nation’s leading rice wholesalers since its inception in 1993. It specializes in the rice industry, with a wide range of activities including processing, packing, and manufacturing more than 20 different varieties of rice products under the JATI name, one of its well-known trademarks. Aside from JATI, other well-known brands include Kapal Layar, Carnation, Songhe Noble Pine Crane, Songhe Lotus, Fres-Harves, and ecoBrown’s, a rice series aimed at health-conscious consumers. The company’s headquarters, located in Bukit Raya, Pendang, runs its business from the heart of the “Rice Bowl State of Kedah.”
Serba Wangi Sdn. Bhd. strives to maintain an impressive balance of trained, qualified, and experienced personnel in order to realize its dream of pursuing a new paradigm in processing, packaging, and distribution excellence. It also has a large distribution network that spans entire Peninsular Malaysia. Serba Wangi Pvt. Ltd. now markets a diverse range of rice to meet the ever-increasing diversity of consumer tastes, propelling the company to the top of its industry.
What do you do at Serba Wangi as Head of Marketing? Do you have a favourite part of your role?
As Group Head of Marketing, I manage and oversee all the brands under Serba Wangi and entail new product development, strategising and executing Marketing Campaigns.
Although we’re a 30-year-old company, we operate like a start-up where we encourage ownership, transparency, and self-development and aim to empower young passionate individuals to grow professionally and personally. We love and cherish new ideas and we disagree to manage the team with authority and fear. Therefore, my favourite part of my role will be sharing the same passion and creating great marketing campaigns with the team; I would not succeed in any of my marketing works without the team.
How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your strategies? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since 2020? How have you overcome them?
With the global Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, we’ve all had to learn that “health” is wealth and all industry players are making changes in all aspects to sustain and perform, including ecoBrown’s (One of the pioneer brands under Serba Wangi Pvt. Ltd.)
Like others, the challenges that ecoBrown faces come from things like catering to the high demand of a healthier lifestyle and eating-homecooked meals, the occasional public panic can also affect product prices in the market, and accessibility to our products.
Therefore, we brought healthy rice to Malaysian by introducing ecoBrown’s Sella Cream Parboiled Basmathi Rice and Steam Brown Rice for those who wanted to have healthier eating to be delivered to their doorstep on monthly basis plus a fixed price policy on our e-commerce platform with just a click – through ecoBrown’s Rice Subscription Plans. (https://shop.ecobrown.com/collections/subscription-plan)
What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on your industry?
For many centuries, rice has been known to humanity as a staple food, especially in Asia. From feeding billions of people, rice is practically irreplaceable as a source for the dietary, Asian economies, and is appreciated by many cultures globally.
ecoBrown’s revolutionized rice purchasing method nationwide by being the first to launch the Rice Subscription Plan riding on ecoBrown’s Steam Brown Rice product. We pioneered the rice subscription plan and continue offering more choices of rice and different packages to cater to different demands
Before the pandemic, experiential marketing was usually conducted offline but at that point in time, people were still cautious about going out. But we do not want to forgo the opportunity to be able to engage with our customers, hence, we thought to ourselves: How about going online?
With this in mind, we implemented online experiential marketing in our marketing plans.
Content and performance marketing go hand-in-hand. We can’t dive right into promotions when we have not done enough of the upper funnel’s contents. It is essential to understand which content generates attention and traffic vs those that don’t. It involves a lot of AB testing for sure to find the winning angle. Besides that, we utilized AI and tracking to gain insights into our customer behaviours which helped us in our marketing strategies and decision-making. After gathering a pool of engaged audiences who are active and have intent to purchase, we then curated tactical content to remarket and drive conversions.
Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?
Be the change, before change changes you. Therefore, as marketers, we must keep ourselves updated and in sync with the changes while incorporating relatable marketing communication strategies to bring different perceptions of our product(s); in terms of product quality, innovation through digitalisation in marketing strategies targeting our now target market the C- generation – with the new norm and lifestyle. We’re always ready to cater to the new market demand and are open to exploring the latest technologies and implementing them into our marketing strategies.
Any advice you’d give to young and/or aspiring marketers?
To progress and improve is to stay out of your comfort zone and grow. Always remember why you started, stay humble, keep your passion, and always be hungry for more.
It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Vynce, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Serba Wangi?
Let’s connect on LinkedIn.