Cường Nguyễn, Giám đốc Marketing tại Biti's: Tạo nên dấu ấn đậm chất Việt | MAD EP07

Cường Nguyễn, Giám đốc Marketing tại Biti's: Tạo nên dấu ấn đậm chất Việt | MAD EP07

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Welcome everyone to another episode of MAD. MAD is an acronym for Marketing, Arts and Design. Today I have Mr. Cuong with me, who is the marketing director of Biti's. I know that he is very busy, so thank you so much for spending time joining the show. Can you talk a little bit about your career up to date? Thank you very much.

I also want to thank MAD for inviting me. Actually I'm also... Me being busy depends on the time period, this period is a little bit busy. So there are some troubles in my schedule with you guys. I just knew MAD through some recent episodes.

I really like your approach, especially the topics that look deep into the unique points of view of individuals or some guests that have their own insights in Marketing and Advertising. I have actually been in this field for 9 years, nearly 10. I'm lucky that I walk on a path that I've decided since the beginning that I'd marketing in client side.

I went from an international corporated, from Samsung Electronics, then I moved to an unrelated industry, which is beverage, at Suntory PepsiCo. After being at two very different environments, one is Korea, one is America mixed with Japan, there's a desire that never leaves me, which is somehow I can come and dedicate to a local business. Even though the paradigm is different, business structure is also different, the hierarchy in terms of alignment and the nature of ownership are different as well. So I can see those differences and it goes with my orientation, that I want to do something for Vietnam, for Vietnamese businesses.

So I chose to go to Biti's 4 years ago. That's the start of another chapter in my career, at a local, domestic brand. Before you joined Biti's, did you have any Biti's shoes? Tell the truth! Honestly, aside from being a marketer, I've always been a sneaker lover. Before working with Biti's, to be honest, I'm an Adidas fan. Next is Nike.

But not until I joined Biti's 4 years ago that Biti's Hunter, the brand with lifestyle for young people, especially focuses on sneakers, started to be developed. And it started to take over the market, with advanced designs, international look and feel and quality standards, along with advanced marketing programs. Since then, I've always kept one thing in mind. We have to be really confident in what we sell, and we have to really love it in order to convince the customers so. Since then, I've always considered myself as a customer, and see when I'm happy to wear that pair of shoes.

Maybe not everyday, because I know that nowadays footwear is representative, not only to protect the feet. It represents our characters. So forcing someone to always wear one pair, especially a sneaker lover, is very hard. However, among 7 days in a week, there should be at least a time when we wear Biti's snseaker.

I feel that I'm really confident and that I can really convince the consumers out there. Until now, for example, now I'm wearing a pair of Biti's. Honestly I wear Biti's five days a week now. I don't know if I understand it fully or not, because I've only came back to Vietnam for about 10 years. But before that I already heard about Biti's, or saw Biti's stores in the cities. When I started doing advertising, I heard about the slogan of Biti's, "Embracing every Vietnamese feet".

Personally, I think Biti's does something called brand revival, meaning it lost the relevant to culture, and now everyone that I know, even if they don't wear Biti's, they at least know about Biti's, about Hunter, know about your media advertising campaign. Do you think it reflects the right process of Biti's? It gradually loses the relevant and now gets it back? Actually Biti's is one of the rare brands in Vietnam that is considered a national brand. National here is not an official title that it shows outside but importantly, the consumers consider it like that and they give us, award us with that title. Because actually since 1982 until now, nearly 40 years, Biti's has grown up with many generations of consumers. As soon as 90s, 2000s, Biti's has actually been a so-called household products in Vietnam.

Many generations grew up with Biti's sandals and flip-flop. In terms of brand awareness, it's almost absolute, meaning that almost 100% Vietnamese people know about, even new customers. However, as you just said, there was a period of time when Biti's stayed quite silent, in terms of media marketing.

Since the legendary TVC of "Embracing every Vietnamese feet", Au Co, Lac Long Quan's steps into the new millennium in 2000s. At that time they remembered Biti's, and continued to use Biti's as a product that they were loyal to. But when Vietnamese market was opened, when foreign brands got into Vietnamese market. Nike, Adidas, Vans, Converse, many of them. And when it was opened, products from neighbor countries with cheap prices like China, Thailand took over a big part of our market. Customers started to have more options.

Obviously I don't say xenophilia is something bad, but importantly, those brands already had the heritage from abroad. They had been existed and developed for many year and their quality was guaranteed. So customers were ready to buy their products, because they believed in what the brands offered. In addition, the demand and the average incomes increased, they didn't just buy a footwear product because of its sustainability, they could wear a pair for 2, 3 years. Now it also represented my characteristics, my fashion. I could buy one or two pairs a year.

So the fact that they slowly drifted away from Biti's. There was also a time when Biti's only focus on doing well what they've been doing, that was the traditional products without catching up the new trend. For example, sneakers is not only the trend anymore.

It becomes a demand in terms of footwear selection, proving its product vitality. During that period, Biti's still witnessed a positive growth every year. But if you look at its sustainable development, surely when there was no way we could stay relevant to the generation, especially new young customers like Millennials, gen Z, they became familiar with foreign brands, they had higher demands and incomes, then they would lose the connection with Biti's. And let's imagine, Biti's is a brand selling footwear solution from first shoes for babies from 6-month-old learning how to walk, to middle ages and old people. But right in the middle part which is young people, we lose that connection.

So when they grow up, they don't have the attachment with the brand anymore. So if we see it in the long run, it's very risky for the business. Then we start to think that we need a brand, first of all, a product to stay relevant with the group of young customers, to bring them back to the product ecosystem of Biti's.

So the question now is, will that brand be Biti's or another brand? At that time we chose to do a sub-brand. Because the awareness of Biti's was absolute, it was good but was also a double-edged sword. Because attaching to that awareness was brand perception, like it's old, it's the sandals or flip-flops of our parents, it's something cheap. They didn't need it to be cheap, they needed something that was value for money. It should even be able to prove their images.

So we decided to create a sub-brand. It would still contain the original word Biti's, to inherit the awareness of the master brand. But the suffix Hunter was a completely different brand. Then we would build a separate image.

On the other hand, if that brand was built well, it would build back the lifestyle, the value-for-money, contemporary, modern factors and especially the quality standards and international image for the master brand Biti's. That was why the company decided to create a sub-brand called Biti's Hunter, to reconnect to young people. So I was wrong about it.

Actually business of Biti's never goes away. It's not a business revival, it's also not a brand revival, because the brand is always there. But there wasn't a long-term segment to connect with young customers, and Biti's didn't catch up on it at that time. But later on Biti's Hunter caught up on that. - That's right. - Okay. Actually we can say that...

Normally people would ask what the rebranding process of Biti's is. But to be honest, the value and position of Biti's are still the same as before. Biti's always defines ourselves as mass footwear solution for everyone.

And what makes us different is the value of "embracing". For example, brands like Nike or Adidas would talk about performances. They want to bring the best athletes inside out, or they want to bring the possibilities out, like Nike. But we don't want to talk about competing in that area. We say that we are always a companion.

And all of their footwear-related products since early ages to later, we would stay side by side and embrace every of their footsteps. So we're always there. To use the right word, I wouldn't say repositioning, I would say it's brand refresh. They will have a newer, more modern point of view, from the younger group of customers towards Biti's. That's what I want to say about the recent years of Biti's. Talking about Biti's, it's hard for me to separate Biti's from Vietnamese culture, through the media campaigns exploiting culture stories.

That's a thing. Another thing is about social. Do you think a brand needs a position in any social issues? For example, LGBTQ+, or freedom of expression or any issues. For example, Nike or Adidas, they would have a position of the company about that issue.

To Biti's, do you think it's necessary for the society? I think generally not only Biti's, but also all the brands that want to increase their levels, not just a consumer brand or a shelf product. Because once we are at that basic level, they would immediately use a rational mind, they use reasoning to compare between brands and products. Then they would look at what the price is, how the design and model are. So when we move up, surely that moving up needs to reconnect to the below, not that when you are here but you talk about something distantly emotional. The important thing is it has to connect to the value from the nature of the product that you offer. Biti's always determine that we want to head towards to be an iconic brand, not only an iconic footwear brand in Vietnam, but also on international market if it's possible.

So where is the iconic factor? The brand needs to represent a value, which has to have positive influence on a big enough group of customers. Then there will be social issues factors. There will also be other bigger factors like passion, dreams, desires, or the solution to the obsession or fear of customers. Then when the brand tells the story, it will be something people love. And once they love it, all the rational factors will not be considered because they are now loyal to their belief. So at Biti's, the story we always want to tell is embracing.

Biti's is a companion embracing the feet, in the past, because back then they needed those rational values. But along with the development, when there's more issues, Biti's recently wants to be seen with larger values. We don't embrace the feet only, but also embrace the steps of Vietnamese people. Those steps represent our position, the advanced and positive values of Vietnames people. It expands to many aspects.

Personally I think, if a brand wants to be iconic, actually there are many ways. But the most basic way is to view the brand as a human being. There is a paradigm called brand archetype. So when you look at a human being like that, when we personify a brand, the customers... When they interact with media stories, touch points, what the brand do continuously, repeated brand promise throughout many years, they imagine that brand like a friend, or a guider, or an outstanding hero.

Then it's easier for them to empathy and be close with the brand. So I think there's a type that is quite suitable for Biti's, and we are following, which is explorer. Explorer is not the hero type like Nike. But it's the type that we always go discover, always go ahead to find values, explore the world inside and out, the world out there and the world inside us.

And Biti's generally... Let's say Biti's Hunter. It talks about a group of young customers, and young people actually have many things going on around them. But there is a mega trend that young people always want to experience. Because young people want to know who they really are, or there's something called quarter-life or mid-life crisis.

They want to define who they are, what their values are, what the purpose of their existence is. And only by going out to the world, exploring and experiencing in order to know about those. So brand Hunter represents that value, it's the fact that a young person go and experience, and grow up from the awareness of the world, they develop their consciousness, thinking, feelings, they know who they are, which value is important to them.

So Biti's, or larger is Biti's Hunter, Biti's actually has many types of product, but there are 3 main types, focusing on 3 biggest groups of customer. That is Hunter for young people, that is Biti's Kids. Kids is the fundamental foundation of Biti's, because the parents were loyal to Biti's, now they continue to buy kid products for their children. And if we start from kids and attach that customer group to the brand, when they grow up, Biti's is still their choices. And the third group of customer is female. Why female? It's because of one aspect that the mother will buy shoes for the children, second aspect is the group of female customers in Vietnam or Asian in general, there is a lot of restriction and stereotypes on them.

As a brand, we are talking about exploring, we explore everything that can break off those restriction, explore the aspects where female can improve and work on their dreams and lives more freely. What about kid? Biti's point of view is that how to let children develop freely, not under any holding or impose from parents or the society says this way is right to raise a child. As an explorer, Biti's tries to find a way for Vietnames children to develop freely.

Obviously we stick to the standards to ensure the safety, but each child has their own potential. We look at that freedom to develop. Everything is around our type as an explorer.

We want to embrace the values, the advanced steps, heading towards the front of Vietnamese young people, kids and female. I want to propose a specific example. Let's say... Biti's is closely related to Vietnamese culture, right? Then I'm curious that if there's a social issue within that culture, should Biti's take a position? For example, if there's a very big scandal, let's say about #MeToo, should Biti's come front and take a position, like we support feminism or we support everyone not being harassed at workplace? Is that what Biti's will do? Or Biti's won't talk about that? For example.

At Biti's I think there is a clear orientation that when we want to tackle, tap into a social issue, number one thing is that surely it has to be meaningful and affects the majority. Majority here doesn't need to be a subject in that matter, but the social point of view about that has to be big enough. That's the first thing about scale.

Because when there's big enough influence, point of view, involving of a social group within the society. Then we can see the scale of the impact that we have really does bring... The second thing is the aspect of the brand. Like I shared before, our brand, because with the same issue, there are many ways to talk about that value or that issue, or to solve that problem, or simply just to spread out awareness.

But the important thing is brand's point of view needs to be clear. Because you never want your brand with the root of footwear products, which expands to going, experiencing, exploring, to talk about another issues. That's the second thing to be considered, does the brand have their positions, their roots, their distinctive zone to talk about that issue? For example, in #MeToo, there are various aspects of #MeToo in the world. It first starts from the aspect of harassment in workplace. Then there will be some other perspectives. When everything goes too extreme, it will become toxic.

There normally are aspects like that. There are many points of view to look into. The important thing for business is that if you choose a view, you should choose an authentic view. We never want to tell a story or deliver a dramatizing message. Normally in advertising, we have a dramatizing method to see everything as impactful and it strikes into our mind.

But Biti's doesn't choose that method because we are initially a companion, a friend, someone who speaks for the consumers' feelings. So we always need to get the authenticity factor. It has to be real, and what their feelings actually are. And we will try to either speaks for their feelings, or to help taking an action towards that issue.

Those are 3 factors when Biti's choose to involve in an issue. Firstly, it's the scale of impact. Secondly, it's brand role. We really need a brand role here.

Brand role needs to be strong and relevant. Thirdly, it's the authenticity. We always need to keep that in mind. I want to talk about a trend, or a movement in marketing and advertising.

That is using music to deliver our messages. It's normally showed in an MV. Do you have any thoughts on that technique or message delivering method? Personally I think... Right, music is something...

Vietnamese people sing karaoke a lot, we can see their passion for music. Music has a power that if we insert the message cleverly, people will sing it repeatedly. When they repeat it, it will stay in our mind.

From here to here. That's the strength of music. So since 2017, I can see that Biti's is one of the pioneers in using music marketing. We deliver our messages through the series "Di de tro ve".

That's right. Before that is "Lac Troi" collaborating with Son Tung. But "Lac Troi" is more about PR stunt, how the shoes appear in a historical MV. But to actually insert it... There are two things, product placement in music marketing; the second thing is actually using music as a message deliver. That's the story about "Di de tro ve".

To me, there is a lot of ways to use music marketing depending on the objectives of the brand. People often criticize that, why this MV is so commercial. But I think people from the brand also realize that. But the important thing is what their purposes are. For example, they just need you to remember their message. I have big media exposure.

I can even be really commercial but you listen to it over and over again and remember my message still. That's okay. Some people, for example, they say that they are afraid of commercial, so they make it very subtly. Then they watch the whole MV without knowing the brand. So the question is that where the IOI factor is. I think that there is a lot of ways to do it.

But importantly, Biti's always chose one thing is authenticity. I don't want to tell a commercial story. In Biti's perspective, I don't want to commercialize through music. Because music is really a way to express their feelings.

We somehow insert our message, the message that we want to really deliver. But they need to remember that is of our brand. Because if it's so true, so natural but they forget about the brand, then it's like we are doing charity work. It's charity for the singers. So "Di de tro ve" is actually a good case study that the Biti's team ourselves reflect on it regularly.

The factors that we did at that time, and what we can check on a fundamental check-list, and if we continue to use music marketing as a tool, we can continue to be able to deliver. Those are authentic messages. There is a clear brand role in it.

And the third important thing is that we really need to respect the territory of composer and creator. This will expand further is how Biti's collaborate with artists and partners. Biti's always respects the creativity of the artist. It can be from composer, director, musician,...

Or even the singer. Because they need to feel their work first, they are not stuffed by everything from the brand. Therefore they can creative and show that the best they can. When they can empathize, the listeners sure can empathize too. My job is to balance that. You are going a little bit ahead because I wrote in here that, Biti's collabs with many artists, musicians and directors very well.

We can talk about it again later. It's true that I can see the communication of Biti's, especially when you work with other artists, music composers, musicians, etc. I see that it has their own vibe in your piece of communication. And I think that's a reason why the communication is successful.

I want to talk about "Di de tro ve". That campaign is the first time I start to think again about Biti's. Because, I don't know if this is your intention. But when I listen to that campaign, I think about many aspects as someone who emigrated then came back to Vietnam to do business. Maybe you don't think about people like me when you write that campaign, right? Like they went abroad, then someday they come back to Vietnam. Is there anything from that perspective or it's just accidental? To be honest, there actually is.

But "Di de tro ve" is actually.... Because I want to somehow speak to the youth out there, the majority of them. So when we craft the story, finding the insights, it will come from the local young people who are far away from home. Because you know in Vietnam, there are only two main central areas, Saigon and Hanoi. Most of Vietnamese young people will move out away from their hometown.

They will come to big cities from other places to build a career. And most of them are away from home. Actually to Asia countries in general, especially Vietnam, the most important time is New Year. New Year is the time for reunion. No matter how far, how difficult it is, they will always try to find a way to come home.

It's like a saying, young people are always excited about all the trips they can go in a year, but there's a place that they are never bored of, they never feel like they've been there for so many times, that is home. There's always a repeated journey of coming back home every year. but it will keep happening. It comes from an observation like that. It's from a bigger foundational insight, which is if there's no going, how can there be coming back? There will be nothing like people forget about the family value. Not until then, when they interact, learn, experience a lot of things, that they realizes the most important thing is that they always have a place to be back.

There's always a place where they are welcomed back, they can share a lot of things, no matter success or failure they have, they can always come back. That's the foundational insight of the series "Di de tro ve". We can divide it into many sub-insights to use for next years. Because we surely don't want to tell a repeated story. It always needs a new aspect.

For example in first year, we tell a simple story, which is going far away to grow up and appreciate this value more. What story did we tell in the second year? That is among many trips we go in a year, there will always be one most special trip. It's special because it's repeated, as I said. It's special because we always want to go back, to share a lot with our family members, to bring this and that to our family members.

That's the most special trip in the year. An individual can go thousands of trips in a year, but there will be a trip repeating every year. We showed a smaller insight in the third year. Now we start to tap into a smaller group of customer, but their story is still empathized by the big group.

In the third year, we start to talk about people being a little bit older, like 25 years old up. When they go out with their friends, they go out with their small family somewhere, there will be moments when they wish for their parents to be there with them. For example, they enjoy the food in Taiwan, or go to Thailand, to the market there, suddenly they miss them. Don't say that young people always miss their parents.

That's surely fake. We might miss our lovers more than our parents. But there will be a moment or a spark that they think back. So the insight of the third year is quite niche more than the first two years.

But when you talk about it, people still feel like yeah, I actually have that feeling. In the 4th, 5th year, we will explore new angles. The 4th year is the story of being back soon for Tet.

Generally speaking, we exploit an ambient, which is Tet only starts for young people in the pre-Tet period. Tet when they already arrived home, firstly, it's not the area of Hunter. When you walk inside, it's for Neptune, Pepsi, Cola for celebration or Omo. We are out on the street. So arriving home is not Biti's anymore.

We only stand in front of the door. Secondly, young people have a lot of negative things when they arrive at home. Like they don't know what to do in 3 boring days of Tet, as well as the tricky questions like how much you earn and when you are getting married. We can't solve those things, so let's put it aside. But we dig deep into the time before Tet. When we are busy at the end of the year, preparing to travel home, feeling nervous.

So in that pre-Tet time, we find out that Tet only really starts in young people's mind when they receive the call from their parents. Parents living far away normally are overworrying. About a month or more before, they already ask if you book the ticket.

We find out that small observation and find out the insight. "Did you book the ticket?" So Tet of adults is the fact that young people return. We focus on that connection in the 4th year. In the 5th year, we focus on the occasion of COVID. Just back then, many people living far away can't return home. The last thing they realize that, you're lucky as long as you can come back home.

So if you can, please try to come back. That's another aspect suitable in the year of COVID. So the story of "Di de tro ve" is continued like that, still based on a foundation insight but is elaborated in different ways in order to continue speaking for the feelings of young people, delivering through music marketing which is easy to listen to and empathize with. And specifically that we can respect the artist's creativity, because I believe that when we dig deeper into the insight, if the artist can empathize with the story we are telling, we don't need to do a lot of seeding and it's what the brand wants.

That's a formula that Biti's normally applies. Turns out as an outsider looking into that campaign, linking that to the story of me going abroad then coming back is completely wrong. It's actually not wrong because people can understand it differently. That's actually a very interesting interpretation, another angle that Biti's can view from. Cool! Throughout those campaigns, I think there is another story about your career.

I feel like there are still many opportunity from the client side to be creative. Do you think that, for example, a young person wanting to do creative contents normally assumes that they needs an agency. Should that be changed? Actually, I think in marketing, advertising and communication, there always has to be two aspects. The first one is deeper and more long-lasting in terms of brand, which is the client side. That's what helping to leverage the data, from the internal data, everything and more importantly, somehow come back to generate itself.

That's more about numbers. And the client side should be able to define the insight of consumers. It's like a teacher of mine always remind me, the most important job of marketing is finding out the insight and giving it to the advertising agency. There were some times in my career, some places would leave the insight completely for agencies.

Clients only gave businesses and challenges, okay, now agencies proposed it. We were supposed to lost a big part as the client, from all the data we have, from the business team to marketing and communication team, we really have to be clear. And we need to find out, to dig deep, that's our consumers. We need to find out the insight. When we dig deep enough, everything meets, everything that we need. Then when we give the brief, the agency has a lot of space to be creative.

So the creative factor in this field is always important to me. Because as time goes by, I can see the bigger competition between types of product and brands. And the consumers have higher levels of shopping information. Like something was for awareness long time ago, scandals, PR stunts, now sometimes...

Because they receive a lot of information in a day, a lot from entertainment news, scandalous news, so how can creative stuff without being crafted from both client and advertising sides catch their attentions? So the creativity in advertising needs to be digged deeper and deeper and worked thoroughly between both sides. To me, the field of creativity, if you pay attention, agency world is still a place for you to be blooming. Some specific careers like footwear of Biti's, there will be very different creative requirements.

An example is product. How to adapt the creativity into product making process? Because Biti's is different from... There's a fact that Vietnam manufactures a lot of footwear.

- Top 3 in the world. - That's right. Sometimes top 3, sometimes top 2. Exporting is in top 2, manufacturing maybe in top 3. But what's important is that we are manufacturing to order from other brands.

So at Biti's, because we are actually the number one footwear brand in Vietnam. We are truly big in the domestic market, and we offer the designs actively being developed from scratch. Then the question is where the design inspiration comes from. Doing marketing at Biti's has a luxury privilege, which is I can be involved in many processes, including product development. I'm not the one who can draw or be creative, but I know that to this point, for example a pair in the series project "Proudly made in Vietnam". I want to bring the values in terms of Vietnamese people identities, but through the territory of streets in Vietnam.

And how can I put all of that materials on the product to create something really distinctive, that no brands have done it the same or similarly before? And I'm actually in a position to say that. Then I would talk to creative team, and especially I collaborated with the artist Viet Max, I give out the question. Then the creativity is deployed in thinking about the materials, linking them together, combining with the fashion aesthetic to create a pair of shoes. It's aesthetic and fashionable, and it contains the cultural factors, signature factors of Vietnam.

Let's say fashion in general, creative factors, if you are specialized in it, you can go straight into being a designer. Then you have a lot of space to work with At some brands, especially Biti's. It's great to see recently that more and more domestic brands are established in footwear field.

It might be that I'm bragging, to some extents, Biti's might stir up this market, - Inspiring them. - build a position of domestic brands versus all the international or fake products out there. I think the more developing domestic footwear brands are, the bigger space for creative specialty is in product development. Maybe it goes in-depth in that area, but it will go beyond the framework, not only marketing or outside communication, but it will start deeper right from the products. I think there are still spaces like that in this career for those who want to go deep into one specific specialty.

If you want to approach various different careers, you want to do different creative orientations in different territories, agency world develops more and more now. Surely clients will have higher and higher demand for creativity. I think creativity is something that can be replaced by machines or AI any time soon.

Because the sense of art, the sense of creativity, especially the sense of locality in Vietnam depending on the market is extremely important and is required in creativity making people. Do you think... a creative director of an agency working with a national brand like Biti's needs to be a Vietnamese person? Actually at Biti's, we are very open. At the moment we work with Dentsu Redder, actually I'm working with many different CDs. There are Italian, Vietnamese people, also a French person.

Actually I think no matter who you work with, the important thing is you need to give them a clear brief. Especially it's always the story of identity at Biti's. Because a brand like Biti's, we don't sell only footwear, As I said before, we want to embrace the advanced value of Vietnames people.

And recently Biti's launched the platform "Proudly made in Vietnam" to talk about values that we deserve to be proud of, not only for the youth generation of Vietnam to have an inspiration about the Vietnamese identity, but also with a clear inspiration, and when we can express clearly Vietnamese identity, we can tell that story to the world. Biti's is the number one brand in Vietnam, but there is no Vietnamese footwear brands making any footprint in mind of international consumers. And that's what Biti's always want to do. As we want to do it, we have to harmonize two things. One is telling a story that the global market can feel connected and appealed to.

That's why we need the mindset of international people. International CDs can give a totally refresh mind, an inspiration from abroad. The second thing which should never be compromised is the factor of Vietnamese signature identity. And that's why we need a very clear brief to give them, not only to Vietnamese people but also expats. So that you can create whatever you want, but don't make me a pair of shoes similar to Nike, Adidas.

That's American, French or Italian story. It has to be Vietnam signature. It has to honor Vietnamese values under the brand's perspective. Biti's embracing advanced values means that we go ahead, we don't look back, we don't copycat or replicate things in the past. Because we tell the story of young people, we tell how we recreate, we give a different lens to the foundation and inspiration from the past. But this is how young people view it, how contemporary views it.

So I notice that the story of "Proudly made in Vietnam" or what Biti's do recently, from creating the image of dragon. We don't tell the story of creating dragon image from the past, we get the inspiration, the core values and add it to the modern perspective. So that we create the insprition for the pride of Vietnamese youth to Vietnamese identity and characteristics. That's what we need to make clear. They don't care what nationality the person is, as long as you keep the Vietnamese signature for me.

And you need to understand and love it. If you didn't understand and love it yet, ask me. That's what I do to ensure the outcome. So I don't know if we already established the design identity of Vietnam when we get to the global market. For example, if we talk about Japan, there will be some perceptions about Japanese design identity.

One is minimalism, for example. Two is super maximal, super crazy anime. So Vietnam, for example. If we go to Thailand market, what do you think we can talk about the design identity of Vietnam? I think there's a thing when we look at Vietnam. There's a lot of areas we can talk about. We can talk about the area of famous landscapes.

Vietnam has a lot of beautiful sightseeing. We can talk about culture, especially food culture. Vietnam is actually a great nation in food culture. No place has the balance and variation in food like Vietnam. You can find Michelin-classed food on the street. That's just one area in Vietnamese culture.

Vietnamese people also have a lot to talk about. We can talk about the optimism, about the resilience, many aspects. What's important is we choose a path to go, to paint that image. Currently with the platform "Proudly made in Vietnam", we are choosing the factor of street signatures. All of that represent an identity of Vietnamese people. At the moment, "Proudly made in Vietnam" has been launched for 3 years.

For example, in season 1, we chose the location of Saigon in order to find out what the signature is. And I can see that in Vietnam, everybody lives on the street. In foreign countries, street is only for commuting to work, back and forth, go to work and stuff.

But in Vietnam, we eat on the street, not mentioning drinking, sleep on the street, like the motorbike driver lying on the bench, express love, like holding hands on the street. It's a bit dirty but even pee on the street. Generally speaking, our lives happen on the street. So I can see that street is actually Vietnamese signature. But importantly, that street has to have a connection with humans. Because identity is what human express it out.

So when I look deeper in Saigon, Saigon streets are very chaotic. Traffic jams, air pollution, construction sites, messy electric lines. But the important thing is all of that chaos is the background for us to see beautiful points in Vietnamese people identity. That is optimism.

They go on there everyday but they are still happy. If it's sunny then suddenly rainy, just put on the raincoat and keep moving. It means that there are aspects we normally see everyday, but if we analyze it, we can give it a name, that is optimism of Saigonese specifically, and it can represent Vietnamese in general. Or in season 2, we talk about Hanoi. I see that Hanoi is a place having such big interference between the 1000-year historical culture and the modern continuance at the present.

Contemporarily, I can see the extreme in terms of construction or the lifestyle of Hanoi people. Something like to a real Hanoian, flower arrangement needs to be like this or that, eating Pho needs to be like this or that. I mean very sophisticated things. But when you go out, there are very aggressive things. Like cursing food stalls, it's very expressive.

It can be very sophisticated, but at the same time very expressive. It's an interference between classic and modern. I'd say Hanoi is a culture patchwork, an interference between different cultural extreme points.

Contradiction. I have to use the word "extreme". Hanoian really go the whole way. They don't stop in the middle. It has to be cultural extremes.

I called the season 2 "Hanoi Culture Patchwork". We tell those stories, we analyze those signature factors and put it on the products. To talk about that, we can see that Vietnamese people have the sophistication within the culture, which was the factor in season 2. Season 1 was optimism. Season 2 was this story. Season 3 is coming soon.

Was it released? Not yet, I will keep the secret for now. People will see another aspects that Biti's Hunter look at the identity of Vietnamese. Is that Da Nang? To be confirmed. Da Nang is my hometown. So each aspects like that, we will try to analyze and bring out an identity factor. And indeed that idenity, through the products, we can really raise the interest of international customers.

Because surely when they come to a design, they don't want to find something look alike compared to what they are having. They want to find things that create surprises for them. Asia in general and specifically Vietnam is a arising country, arising nation. Not only because we did very well with COVID, but before that economically, our growth rate was the top of the world every year. In terms of tourism, in terms of food or people, Vietnam creates a implication and impression to foreign customers, to the world in general.

So now I can see that it's time for us to step up, together with the new generation of Vietnamese young people. We shout out, we spread out, we proudly show the world, those are what we are proud about through what Biti's do very well, which is products. So that's about business wise, brand wise. That's what we can really convince foreigners. If we tell the rational story like I'm light, my package is pretty, compared to things like... I'm a Nike fan, what's the point of you telling me that? I'm having the best pair of shoes in the world.

Surely we can't compete like that. So the factor of Vietnamese identity, the cultural factor will set a distinctive zone in mind of foreign customers to help us get in the global market. You mentioned quarter-life crisis before. Did you go through that phase? It's actually hard to say, because I define my own life as a little bit pinky. Luckily! The path I go is quite smooth, or maybe it's because my point of view.

I've always been the balanced type. I mean everything has its own solution, we don't need to be panic. Let's just sit down and take a deep breath, and the universe will show us the way. So I think there will be some crisis moments or some going down, but I will keep the mindset that all is well eventually and continue to move forward.

So I don't know if I had it or not. Didn't have it. Let's wait to mid-life crisis. You said you are a sneaker head, right? How many pairs do you have at home? I don't really remember as in counting, because I just buy it... A year ago it was around 70 pairs. I don't buy any new pairs recently.

Because I start to realize the consumerism factor. Fashion is actually the second polluted industry after oil. I start to realize that, consumerism. And I only buy the pair that it's necessary. Recently I only buy Biti's.

Your boss is watching. Which is the most expensive pair in your collection? It's hard to define the most expensive one. There is Balenciaga Triple S, Nike collaboration with G-Dragon, Alexander McQueen, a few like that. But expensive as in like the rarest one, there is one that I made use of relationship. There is sample version that is not released afterwards.

Some very rare Biti's pairs, only 1 or 2 pairs in the world. Vietnam is a bit small, in the world. Those are what I really appreciate and keep it at home. Those Biti's pairs that have never been released, maybe in the future. Those remind me of the fact that I have the power to create things at Biti's.

That's a great privilege. Thank you very much for joining the show today and sharing your experience and perspectives about marketing and Biti's. I learned a lot today about Biti's and marketing. Thank you everyone for listening to the show. Thank you Cuong once again, bye bye and hope to see you guys next time. Bye bye everyone.

2021-05-27 21:24

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