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Essay: Khong Guan brand analysis

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An Overview of the Company

Khong Guan is a home-grown company well-known for their dessert assortments such as biscuits. Khong Guan is one of the “oldest biscuits company here” (Quek). Founded in 1947, Khong Guan Biscuit Factory was set up in Singapore by two brothers, Chew Choo Keng and Chew Choo Han. As their business began to thrive, Khong Guan “signed an agreement with Australian biscuit manufacturer Arnott’s, which gave Khong Guan access to Arnott’s recipes, formulae, production methods and processes” (“Other home-grown global brands”). The agreement enabled them to “doubled its production in South-east Asia and also distributes Arnott’s biscuits in the region” (“Other home-grown global brands”). Chew Choo Keng established “a solid network of friendships across the region, one based on trust, loyalty and altruism” (Teo).  His vision and leadership influenced Khong Guan’s corporate reputation and has built the essence of their company.

(Refer to Fig 1.0) Khong Guan manufactures a wide variety of products which include crackers, non-creams, cream sandwiches, bite sizes, cookies, chocolate coated and wafers. After laying the foundation of biscuit manufacturing, Khong Guan continues to diversify their business and “exports its products to more than 40 countries, and manufactures biscuits and confectionery for supermarket house brands” (Chua). They became available to consumers in local supermarkets, as well as countries as far as the Middle East, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States (“Khong Guan”). In a bid to expand their market, Khong Guan’s business has gone from strength to strength and “has grown into a multinational group of companies with diversified interests including property, food product distribution and commodities trading” (Chua). They also manufacture “wheat flour, biscuits, oatmeal, pulses and cereals to the trading and distributions of FMCG goods” (“Home”).

While the headquarters of Khong Guan is in Singapore, the growth of their business allowed them to venture into other offices worldwide, such as “factories and associated companies in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, China and the United States” (Chua). Furthermore, they have “flour mills planted in China, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia” (Teo). Helmed by 6 capable directors, Khong Guan has made a name for itself as established leaders in the food industry. In the United States, Khong Guan has 50 employees. (Refer to Fig 1.1)

Khong Guan’s values are “to win the trust of our suppliers, customers and consumers” (“Our Company”). Their mission is to be “a leading and reputable market leader in respect of edible and non-edible products” (“Our Company”). They also aim to be “strategic partners in our core business as wheat and oat millers as well as distributors” (“Our Company”). In addition, they “develop and own good quality industrial properties for investment” (“Our Company”). Their vision is to “ensure timely supply of good quality products and provide good services that meet the demand and expectation of our customers” (“Our Company”).

Corporate Identity

Corporate identity is the way that an organisation presents itself to internal and external stakeholders. Khong Guan portrays their identity through symbolism.

(Refer to Fig 1.2) The visual aspects of Khong Guan are its packaging, printed collaterals, website, buildings and logo. With a history that dates back to 1947, Khong Guan’s corporate identity prides themselves on its heritage and being a traditional brand. In 1947, Chew Choo Keng, designed “the trademark himself – a wheel encircled by wheat straws” (Teo). Their iconic trademark continues to be a familiar presence today. Their distinctive red and white trademark is used in all their packaging (Refer to Fig 3.3) which brings across a sense of consistency and symbol throughout all the products of the brand. They use a traditional font for their logos and packaging which aligns with the identity of the company.

(Refer to Fig 1.3) The heritage building “bears the company’s name, ‘Khong Guan”, in red” (Singh). The 64-year-old building has been an “office, storeroom and shopfront for the biscuit company” (Singh). With the company’s rich history, the building is a symbol of the history and roots of the company and portrays their corporate identity that is still present today.

(Refers to Fig 1.4) Khong Guan’s website brings across a vintage and old-school aesthetic. It retains the classic logo of the brand. Furthermore, the brand’s slogan is featured on their homepage, which is “A legacy of generations, the taste of traditions”. Once again, this encapsulates the brand essence and identity of the brand.

(Refer to Fig 1.5) For the promotion posters crafted by Khong Guan, the logo of the brand is not present. Although there is a wide range of products that are showcased on the poster, one may not recognise Khong Guan at a glance as its distinctive logo is not present.

Apart from the promotion posters, Khong Guan is consistent in portraying their corporate identity.

Brand Positioning and Corporate Image

Corporate image is the perception different audiences have of the organisation. Khong Guan is perceived differently among the media, Singaporeans, regulators and consumers. (Refer to Fig 1.6) Respondents stated that they value taste, followed by price, reputation and sentimental value. Khong Guan fulfils all the criteria, especially sentimental value. Compared to their competitors such as Julie’s, Oreos, Arnott’s and Meiji, in terms of these attributes, this is where Khong Guan is positioned in the minds of consumers. (Refer to Fig 1.7)

In the eyes of the media, they recognise Khong Guan as a Singaporean brand. Khong Guan is closely associated with Singapore because of its local roots. They are always featured in articles that cover prominent local events such as the National Day Parade. Their biscuits have been placed “inside the packs… Khong Guan biscuits” (Yeo).  Khong Guan has also been featured in milestones like the SG50 Time Capsule in which the public had to vote for what they view “as most representative of Singapore’s identity and journey as a nation” (Singh). Based on the votes, Khong Guan was one of the 50 items “chosen based on their popularity” (Singh). It is evident that consumers hold Khong Guan in high regard and appreciate the home-grown qualities of the brand. It highlights how Khong Guan is a longstanding and heritage brand. The nostalgic event has formed the perception among the media and consumers that Khong Guan is a local and well-loved brand that has played a part in Singapore’s history as it journeyed with Singapore throughout their 50 years. To be involved in a milestone such as SG50, it builds upon the reputation they already have.

Khong Guan also has a reputable social image as they are active in contributing to society in small-scale community relations. For Corporate Social Responsibility, Khong Guan “sponsored 50 boxes of biscuits” (Kor). Khong Guan contributed to a school National Day Charity carnival that raised funds for The Society for The Physically Disabled. Despite their success, Khong Guan remains deeply grounded in their humble roots. The company is not amiss in supporting charitable efforts and caring for the less fortunate in society.

In an article discussing favourite biscuits, Khong Guan was named as one of the favourite brands. An interviewee stated that Khong Guan “has maintained its quality all these years” (Quek). (Refer to Fig 1.8) This corroborates with what consumers believe about the product as reviews state that the quality of the biscuits in Khong Guan has remained consistent.  The consumer states that “the quality of the biscuits have not changed one bit over the years” (“User Reviews”). Hence, consumers and the media are on the same page in terms of Khong Guan’s quality and consistency.

In the eyes of the consumer, Khong Guan evokes a sense of nostalgia for the good old days for many Singaporeans in all stages of life. (Refer to Fig 1.9) A consumer recounts stories from her childhood through The Smart Local, a review website for Singaporeans. She states that the biscuits “remind me of my childhood, and perhaps that is why I will never get tired of Khong Guan” (“User Reviews”). What differentiates Khong Guan from other biscuit brands is the sentimental value that consumers attach to the product. Khong Guan is also seen as a cheap and affordable brand that produces quality biscuits. (Refer to Fig 2.0) On The Smart Local, a consumer thinks that “the best thing about Khong Guan would have to be the price” (“User Reviews”). Furthermore, it is a “good everyday brand that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket” (“User Reviews”).

(Refer to Fig 2.1) Khong Guan needs to be revamped as it may seem outdated. In a review on The Smart Local, a consumer mentions that the taste and quality of the biscuits “has gone stale” (“User Reviews”). The consumer states that Khong Guan needs to carry out a “major flavour-boost or re-inventing” (“User Reviews”). While Khong Guan may be a brand known for its heritage and tradition, it may not be as well liked in this day and age.

(Refer to Fig 2.2) Through the survey, it was revealed that the good attributes of the brand are the fact that it is unique. Respondents enjoy the flavours and the taste. It also gives them a sense of nostalgia. It is affordable, familiar and consistent. It was also revealed that the bad attributes of the brand are its taste or do not enjoy eating biscuits. They find that Khong Guan is inaccessible, not modern and there is no variety and that there are other choices to choose from. Respondents also do not buy Khong Guan biscuits for health reasons such as palm oil and trans fat.

The findings from the survey (Refer to Fig 2.3) illustrate that consumers associate Khong Guan with being classic, traditional, childhood and local brand. Hence, this proves the portrayal of their corporate identity aligns with their corporate image as it fulfils all the characteristics of Khong Guan’s corporate identity.  Brand positioning makes Khong Guan different because of the sense of nostalgia that Khong Guan brings to Singaporeans. It is an intangible association with the brand as it is based on an individual’s personal experience. It is what differentiates them from the other biscuit brands because of the long history Khong Guan has with Singaporeans.

However, the media covered reports about the contamination that occurred in 2008 which evoked fear in consumers. It was a direct threat to Khong Guan’s product image as their product quality was compromised. Fortunately, Khong Guan told The Straits Times that their products were “free of China-made dairy products” (Wong). After being tested for melamine contamination, Khong Guan was approved by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) as they produced “satisfactory results” (Wong). This shows that Khong Guan is a credible and reliable brand. Unfortunately, melamine was detected in Khong Guan biscuits “made in Malaysia” (Wong). Luckily, Khong Guan biscuits “made in Singapore are still safe to eat, as well as other biscuits made here, the AVA said” (Wong). As they are the same company, the incident affected Khong Guan based in Singapore as the proximity of Singapore and Malaysia caused consumers to feel alarmed of the products.  Regulators still had to do due diligence to ensure Khong Guan was not handling contaminated food as it will affect the company’s image as they are the same market.

The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) conducted a survey to analyse buying and sourcing of palm oil among food service brands. They stated that “Two out of three Singapore brands contacted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) did not respond to a request to disclose their palm oil usage” (“Most Singaporean brands”). Khong Guan was one of the companies that did not respond and was “classified as ‘not transparent’ in their palm oil usage” (“Most Singaporean brands”). Khong Guan also previously contained trans-fat, which is an unhealthy ingredient in the products. The Health Promotion Board “pushed for local food makers to reduce its usage in their products” (“Trans fat gets fried”). Upon discovering the harmful effects of trans-fat, Khong Guan changed their ingredients in the biscuit and “are also free of trans fat” (“Trans fat gets fried”).

Khong Guan’s financial image is thriving. In 2018, it “recorded a net profit of S$792,000 for the six months to Jan 31, almost eight times the S$95,000 in the same period the year before, according to an announcement” (Leow).

Khong Guan’s recruitment image in the United States reflect the values of Khong Guan. It states that Khong Guan is a “smaller company that has a close, family feeling” (“Working at Khong Guan”). They also work in a “nurturing environment” (“Working at Khong Guan”). However, Khong Guan is a small team and this hinders opportunities to “develop new areas of potential growth” (“Working at Khong Guan”).  (Refer to Fig 2.4) Through the survey conducted for primary research, 50.7% of respondents would recommend family and friends to work for Khong Guan. (Refer to Fig 2.5) The leading reasons for recommending family and friends to work for Khong Guan are its good reputation, good working environment and family business. They would also recommend family and friends to work at Khong Guan because of the good products they produce and feeling the need to support local businesses. 49.3% would not recommend family and friends to work for Khong Guan. (Refer to Fig 2.6) They are unfamiliar with the brand, they have an unknown reputation. and have no knowledge about the working culture. They also believe that Khong Guan is a Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) which hinders their opportunities as potential employees. Finally, they feel Khong Guan is not innovative as a company.

Brand Communications and Management

The marketing communications tools that are used by Khong Guan are online marketing and sales promotions.

Khong Guan uses social media to communicate the brand. Their website links us to their social media accounts, which are Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. However, they are only active on Facebook as they update their page regularly. Out of the three platforms, their Facebook page has the largest following with 1,900 likes and followers (Refer to Fig 2.7). They also use this channel by posting their sales promotions such as deals in various supermarkets that hold that brand, such as NTUC, Giant, Prime Mart and Cold Storage. (Refer to Fig 2.8) They are inactive on Twitter as they last updated in 2016 and have 13 followers. (Refer to 2.9) They have not updated their Pinterest account since 2012 and have 9 followers.

Khong Guan does not use any other marketing communication tools to communicate the brand and are only active on Facebook to publish their sales promotions. They do public relations such as Corporate Social Responsibility and contribute to The National Day Parade. There is also earned media such as sharing, mentions and reviews from The Smart Local. However, there is a lack of media coverage on solely Khong Guan, such as standalone articles about the brand and advertising effort.

Khong Guan’s brand promise is to produce quality products that meets the expectations of customers. They live up to their brand promise because of the good quality of their products and consumers and stakeholders’ overall satisfaction with Khong Guan products. (Refer to Fig 3.0) Through primary research, 85.9% of respondents believed that Khong Guan has lived up to their brand promise while 14.1% believed that they did not. (Refer to Fig 3.1) Some respondents felt they lived up to their brand promise because their products contain fresh quality. Furthermore, they uphold their standards, are consistent and it is tasty and affordable. On the other end of the spectrum, some respondents feel their expectations were not met as they feel Khong Guan produces average quality. The quality of the ingredients of the biscuit, such as artificial flavouring and colours, preservatives and whether the products are gluten free are a concerning factor to them.

Although some consumers feel this way, Khong Guan has fulfilled their brand promise because of the meticulous measures they have taken to produce quality ingredients through the biscuit making process. The biscuit making process is highly controlled as quality checks are “conducted at every stage of the biscuit making process, to ensure that set standards and consistency are maintained” (“Khong Guan”). Overall, their promise holds true as consumers are generally satisfied with the products.

They are also socially responsible in their business practices as they do not use harmful ingredients such as palm oil and melamine. Despite melamine found in China dairy products contamination scare in 2008, Khong Guan was approved by Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). They are seen as a credible and reliable brand as the regulators found that “melamine has not been detected at all in the products, or that the products contain only minute trace levels well within the limit of 5 parts per million (ppm)” (Wong). This proves once again that they place ample importance on the quality of the products.

(Refer to Fig 3.2) WWF claims that Khong Guan is “not transparent” (“Most Singaporean brands”). However, the fact that palm oil is one of the ingredients that is listed clearly in their packaging suggests that this information is available to consumers who are concerned about palm oil in their products. (Refer to Fig 3.3)

After shedding light on the harmful effects of trans-fat, Khong Guan was responsible in ensuring that trans-fat was limited in their products as they “stopped using trans-fat in its products, but not before putting three years of research into finding an alternative” (Durai). This proves that Khong Guan ensured that they did thorough research to maintain the quality and taste of the biscuit while ensuring it is safe for consumers. This highlights how they stay true to their brand promise.


(Refer to Fig 3.4) Based on Khong Guan’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, these are the recommended suggestions to enhance their success and business.

Khong Guan has excelled in building their corporate brand as the public’s perception of Khong Guan is in line with the identity that they portray, which is a traditional and classic brand. They are strong in their recruitment, product, social and financial image. While they have a strong corporate brand, they face the threat of being traditional in this day and age. As a result, they are not reaching out to the youth. Unlike the older generation, the youth may not have grown up eating Khong Guan and are unaware of the brand as it is not as modern. Although (Refer to Fig 3.5) the survey shows that 90.1% know Khong Guan, 9.9% are unaware of the brand. (Refer to Fig 3.6) 43.7% of respondents in the primary research survey state that they “Rarely” see marketing by Khong Guan. Hence, it is vital that they seize the opportunity to continue Khong Guan’s legacy.

Since Khong Guan is inactive on their social media platforms, they can modernise their brand by promoting on social media. There will be three social media campaigns. The first social media campaign would be to shed light on the history of Khong Guan and how they prospered in Singapore. (Refer to Fig 3.7) Based on the survey, 38% of respondents agree that brand history contributes to the success of the brand. The campaign will be based on Khong Guan’s humble beginnings and culture. This will be carried out through the power of storytelling, in which Khong Guan demonstrates its legacy and explores the history of the organisation. The target audience will grasp the corporate personality, values, vision and mission from the YouTube advertisement. The media outlet for the advertisement is YouTube as it is a well utilised channel in Singapore with many different age ranges visiting the platform. (Refer to Fig 3.8) According to a research done by Google Singapore and Kantar TNS highlights, and will cater to both the younger and older generation of Singapore as the “younger group aged 16 to 34 led these figures as they prefer it (YouTube) over TV, but the older demographics are also heavy viewers, the survey found, with YouTube reaching 87 per cent of Internet users aged 35 to 60 years old at least once a month” (Tandon). (Refer to Fig 3.9) Singaporeans are also more receptive towards YouTube advertisements as 45% “of Singaporean Internet users prefer YouTube to regular TV” (Tandon). Furthermore, users are twice as likely to “find YouTube ads less intrusive than TV ads” (Tandon). Hence, the advertisement aims to enhance Khong Guan’s success by retelling their brand history and draw consumers from the advertisement. Khong Guan’s history and the characteristics of the brand, such as determination and humility will also be etched in the back of their mind after hearing the moving story.

The second social media campaign will be reviving their social media pages, such as Facebook, Twitter and creating an Instagram account. There is an increasing number of Singaporeans as “more than 3 in 4 Singaporeans now use social media” (Tan). This will be a good means to reach a mass audience and first step to modernising Khong Guan. Social media will reach out to the youth who are unaware of Khong Guan and will allow them to form an opinion and understanding of Khong Guan as they are digital-centric. To kick off the social media campaign, there will be posts that feature employees working at Khong Guan. Employees will give testimonies and share about their experience working, why they chose to work there and recount stories of their best memories of working at Khong Guan. This will inculcate awareness on the working culture in Khong Guan and attract potential job candidates. It communicates your brand identity as an organisation to others as employees are ambassadors of the brand.

After a sufficient number of posts about employees, the social media page can start a movement where consumers take a walk down memory lane and share about their best memories of Khong Guan when they were children. (Refer to Fig 4.0) As 57.7% stated that they got to know Khong Guan as it is a childhood snack, it is important that they use this as a leverage to connect with people. (Refer to Fig 4.1, 4.2, 4.3) The use of the hashtag #TheGoodOlDays will be used to generate awareness on the campaign and grow Khong Guan’s following. Each post by a consumer will be for a worthy cause. With each post, a goodie bag with Khong Guan biscuits as well as childhood favourites such as games like “pick-up sticks” and “capteh” will be donated to aid a family with children in need. This is to enhance their corporate identity, positioning Khong Guan as the childhood snack. The rationale behind this is to reconnect consumers with Khong Guan’s value of giving back to the community. This will inspire them to post as it will make a difference in another person’s life, and is meaningful and contributes to society. By sharing their childhood memories with Khong Guan, consumers connect on a nostalgic platform. Through sharing the packet of biscuits with children in need, the nostalgic sentiments can be perpetuated to the less fortunate children and shape their childhood memories with Khong Guan as well. Furthermore, it is done through word-of-mouth, which the audience will deem as authentic.

The third social media campaign will be “Pass It On” which emphasizes the heritage of the brand. (Refer to Fig 4.0) 22.5% of respondents stated that they got to know Khong Guan through family and friends. This highlights how Khong Guan is a family friendly brand and relies on this identity. However, (Refer to Fig 4.4) 25.4% of respondents said that they would not continue to buy this product and share it with their loved ones as they grow older, it poses as a threat to Khong Guan as relies on word-of-mouth marketing from family and friends, which is how they got to know about the brand. To ensure that all generations are exposed to Khong Guan, the objective of the campaign is to establish the tradition of passing the brand on, from generation to generation, employees to customers and from a family to another family in need. This campaign is targeted mostly to the youth and the new generation, who may not be as familiar with Khong Guan. Hence, #PassItOn will be featured on the three social media platforms (Refer to Fig 4.5, 4.6, 4.7) and will gain brand awareness. The campaign hopes to achieve the same sentimental value and attachment the older generations place on Khong Guan. Firstly, users of the platforms can post about the campaign and how they are gifting it to their loved ones to pass on the tradition of good taste. It will feature Khong Guan’s Corporate Social Responsibility. (Refer to Fig 4.8) 43.9% of respondents stated that they would support Khong Guan if they were to do a community relations programme for poverty. To kick start the campaign, employees will participate in their Corporate Social Responsibility where they go door-to-door to gift Khong Guan biscuits to aid the underprivileged. This falls under community volunteering. It will benefit employees as it boosts their morale because they are doing something meaningful. It will also be earned media for them as a press release (Refer to Fig 4.9 & 5.0) will be sent to media outlets about their programme in hopes that they will cover the story. The content of the media release will include details about the programme, testimonies from employees and Khong Guan extending and encouraging the public to follow the campaign and do the same by gifting Khong Guan biscuits to someone in need or to their loved ones and post about it on social media, using the same hashtag #PassItOn. The #PassItOn campaign can also be linked to #TheGoodOlDays campaign, in which consumers reflect on their childhood eating Khong Guan biscuits, and convey that they want to pass on the heritage brand to loved ones ensure Khong Guan’s tradition does not die off for the next generations to come.

(Refer to Fig 4.0) 8.5% of respondents stated that they discovered Khong Guan through store display. (Refer to Fig 5.1) Point of purchase stands can be placed in supermarkets such as NTUC, Cold Storage and Giant. The distinctive Khong Guan biscuit tin will take the form of a stand to build visibility and prompt purchases and improve sales as a result. (Refer to Fig 2.3) Respondents state that they associate Khong Guan with their biscuit tins, hence, consumers will be able to recognise their distinctive biscuit tin and associate the tin with Khong Guan upon seeing the stand. The point of purchase stand can also tie in with Khong Guan’s Corporate Social Responsibility. This is done through cause-related marketing, in which 20% of the funds for each tin of biscuits bought will to Food from the Heart, a non-profit food distribution organisation for every tin of biscuits bought. To raise awareness, there will be detailed information about the campaign on the point of purchase stand and exclusive packaging in which it states, “Enjoy this packet of biscuits, straight from the heart from my family to yours” which is the main slogan of the campaign. It promotes Khong Guan’s corporate identity of being a family business and prompts consumers to buy the products for a worthy cause.

In 2005, it stated that “The hottest ticket in town is… for a tour of the Yakult and Khong Guan biscuits” (Ng). This shows that Singaporeans take interest in going to their biscuit factories. They can also open their heritage building to the public. Hence, Khong Guan can promote their factory and heritage building by expanding and opening it to schools for learning journeys, community centres for excursions and even promote it as a tourist attraction. By targeting these groups, the younger generation, especially students attending the tours will be enlightened about Khong Guan biscuits and their brand. It will spark an interest in Khong Guan and has potential in developing the same bond older generations have with the brand. This also addresses the issue of consumers being concerned about their quality. However, with factory tours in place, they are able to witness the biscuit making process first hand. They can also actively update their social media pages when they go on school and community centre visits. This will reach their target audience, the youth and captivate their attention.

Through the survey, (Refer to Fig 5.2) 22.5% of respondents stated that they would like to see Khong Guan partner with Milo for joint marketing. This is to shift their perceptions that Khong Guan is not traditional as Milo is a fairly modern and popular brand among youths. Furthermore, it serves as an accompaniment for Khong Guan biscuits. Khong Guan can sponsor schools for children’s day, family days and big carnivals to ensure that their presence is felt on ground.

The recommendations are in place to continue Khong Guan’s popularity among the youth, attract potential employees and to portray Khong Guan as an authentic brand through their Corporate Social Responsibility.

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