MADE IN MALAYSIA
Walk into any convenience store or petrol kiosks in Malaysia, chances are you will find sparkling fruity beverage Hausboom sitting on the shelfs amongst other bigger and international brands.
Proudly Made in Malaysia, Hausboom is the brainchild of Kampung Gajah-raised Azri Zahir Azmi.
The beverage, a clever take on the word ‘Haus’ - translating to ‘thirsty’ in Malay, are in over than ten thousand outlets nationwide, available at key distributors like 7-Eleven, myNEWs, Petronas Mesra stores, as well as cafes and restaurants.
But what’s unique about Hausboom’s strategy is it focused on selling abroad, before penetrating the Malaysian market.
“We focused on building the brand first. We participated in a lot of lifestyle events in Kuala Lumpur and Johor and we caught the attention of a distributor in Singapore,” says Azri.
The brand is available in Europe – of all places; Berlin and Birmingham – as a result of his participation in a Malaysian trade mission to these two cities in 2017.
But Singapore was the big break Hausboom needed to ‘go abroad’. Azri first exported Hausboom to the island republic, and soon demand were coming in from other countries.
“Because of how we branded ourselves, plus the look and the feel of the beverage, people thought we had been around for a long time.”
Hausboom is now available in six overseas market, including Brunei, Maldives, South Korea and Sri Lanka.
‘Is it Made in Malaysia?’ is often a question posed to CEO and Founder, Azri Zahir Azmi, a comment that exudes pride within the young entrepreneur.
There were plenty of detractors when he first started three years ago, says Azri. This is, afterall, a market where shelves tend to be dominated by legacy brands, while super thin margins are a norm in the fast-moving consumer good (FMCG) segment.
“You need to think big the moment you start anything. You need to have a very clear journey,” says Azri. He draws inspiration from Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestle - the biggest valued FMCG brands globally - and he dream to be the success story from Malaysia.
Azri admitted to slashing Hausboom’s RM 8 retail price by half soon after its launch, in order to gain market share
“Don’t just go with the flow - you need to have a proper plan and you need to plan it big.”
Azri admitted to slashing Hausboom’s RM 8 retail price by half soon after its launch, in order to gain market share. He took a financial loss in the first two quarters - but the strategy has worked in his favour. Hausboom was profit making by the end of the first year.
He shipped 750,000 bottles of the Halal-certified fruity beverage from his factory in Besut in the first year. For 2019, Hausboom is getting ready to expand into five new markets - Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
“To start a brand is always difficult but you need to just do it first,” says Azri.
When Hausboom started, Azri employed the help of friends and celebrities to create a ‘hype’ surrounding the brand.
“In order to compete with the larger corporations - where they have big budgets for marketing and promotion - I needed to be a little bit more creative. For the Malaysian market, we all love celebrities. That’s why they are called influencers.”
One marketing strategy involves giving out boxes of Hausboom to celebrities, who will then serve Azri's products to guests who visit the celebrities' events and homes.
“We always participate in events, weddings, and car boot sales. We came up with custom labels on Hausboom for celebrity weddings, just to get the brand out there,” says Azri.
“We used that strategy to penetrate into the market because it is the cheapest and easiest movement we can do back then,” he adds.
I’ve been telling everyone that Hausboom is not just a drink, Hausboom is a lifestyle
“I like to compete,” admits the ambitious lad. “We have crazy marketing strategies.”
There seems to be no stopping Azri who has his sights set on making Hausboom much more than just a beverage company. “Since day one, when we developed this brand, it is not to be just another beverage or drink brand. I’ve been telling everyone that Hausboom is not just a drink, Hausboom is a lifestyle.”
“That’s why we have a lot of merchandises - we have our t-shirts, skateboard decks, and even have our own motor helmet that is customised for our brand because we want to create a following for the brand,” says Azri.
“I’m always hungry for more. Since we already have our distribution points, we want to create more products, perhaps coffee or soy milk.”
“I don’t like businesses that have a limitation. I ventured into this line of business knowing that Hausboom has no limitation at all.”
When asked about his secret to success at a young age, Azri doesn’t downplay that it took a lot of sacrifice and long nights at the office to get him to where he is today.
“There’s no secret to success besides hard work,” he says with a laugh, adding a strong support system from his family allows him to focus and work on Hausboom ‘24/7’.
“In order to grow Hausboom to be really big, it consumes a lot of time and energy. I sacrificed my family at first but I told them, give me a few more years and I will reward you,” says Azri.