Other Existing Nutritional Label Designs in Malaysian Hypermarkets

In my research proposal I have talked about the existing nutritional label design in the market. Many studies on improving labels were made mainly in the Europe, UK and U.S. looking at whether people read them correctly; is the information sufficient to the readers or does the information on the labels comprehend the meaning to the readers. They have also roped in well-known designers to gain feedback on the newly design nutrition labels in the process.

However, there has been no in-depth design project with the goal of finding a suitable nutritional label for the Malaysian market, in the area of how the information is designed and presented whereby the aesthetic value and attention are the prime commodities for a product to meaningfully inform the consumers to make educated purchase. Hence, I’m interested to draw a significant contribution towards making the existing nutritional labels a more conducive selection of well-informed choices.

At this early stage of research, I’m looking at some existing nutritional label designs in Malaysian hypermarkets. My intention is to find out if these existing design can work as an example or guideline to better improve the Malaysia government-mandated nutritional label design on local products. There are a few common elements used on existing label:

  1. Verbal banding – This format use verbal description to define nutrient values as high, medium and low. They are used as additions to the numerical values in nutrition table to qualitatively evaluate the nutrient.
  2. Traffic light scheme – Shares the same cut-off points with verbal banding of presenting values using colour (red for high, amber for medium, green for low).
  3. Colour coded Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) – Numerical systems that present nutrient amounts in relation to recommended daily values for average women.
  4. Integrated labelling – A single symbol to evaluate the quality of food, trying to qualitatively evaluate a product as a whole instead of presenting a breakdown of specific values.
  5. Health logo/ F&B related logos – Used to point out healthier products in specific food category/ specific diet such as vegetarian/ in Malaysian context, Halal logo shows the product is suitable for Muslims.

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KR1M – A joint effort of Malaysian Government & Mydin as CSR programme

In recent years, Mydin worked very closely with Malaysian government’s transformation programme on a social responsibility basis to give back to the society, which is to emphasize on the citizen through the official slogan “Rakyat Didahulukan”. This initiative has helped formed a national brand of “1 Malaysia.”

This programme is formed not just for the sake of unity of various races, but also to provide basic fast moving consumer products that are necessities at affordable prices. The main objective is to ease the burdens of the lower income earners in the urban areas and also to help Malaysian entrepreneurs who want to embark on opening a retail business.

KR1M is a joint effort between the Malaysian government and Mydin to help and enhance the overall revenue of small medium enterprises that sell products through this national brand. The branding concept of this national brand is almost similar to hypermarket brand extension. Their products are highly controlled by a particular retailer and can only be seen in 1 Malaysia store. However you can still find one or two 1 Malaysia products in Mydin hypermarket.

With a clear objective to help ease the burden of urban lower income earners, an obvious low cost packaging can be seen on 1 Malaysia products. Besides the logo of 1 Malaysia that applied across all their products, the packaging labels are mostly in white. This approach has helped made their products sellable at 30 to 50 percent lower price than other well-known manufacturing brands. There is also almost no effort paid to advertising in order to avoid extra cost.

Nutritional Label Design

The similar nutritional design format – monotone table is used on all their products. Minimal information can be found on their nutritional labels; mainly the energy, fats, sugar, carbohydrate and protein are stated. Despite this minimal approach, all of their products have 2 main endorsements, namely the Buatan Malaysia (products of Malaysia) and the Halal logo.

KR1M

Mydin

Mydin started as a small shop selling toys and general merchandise. In 1979 they made their first presence in Kuala Lumpur as a wholesale and retail shop. Since then they have emerged as one of the top players in Malaysia’s competitive hypermarket industry and still keeping their core business role – wholesale and retail. Set aside hypermarket, they also have a few categories of business that comprises of emporiums, mini marts, and convenient shops namely MyMart, Mydin Mart and bazaar.

They emphasize on low pricing strategies and economically priced goods with a clear motto “Why pay more, buy at wholesale price.” Many advertising boards are displayed around the walkways reminding their customers the objective of buying at their stores. In order to maintain their products that can be bought in bulk with lower price, they work closely with their suppliers or vendors on a win-win situation to source its products directly from manufacturers and through bulk purchase. This act has helped them to maintain the low pricing strategies with varieties of local produced products.

Mydin strongly embraces Halal concept that stresses on honesty, sincerity and with good price. This is the only hypermarket store that dominates over the Muslim market, which comprises of 60% of Malaysia population. Tabung Infak (donation box) can also be seen outside of their pay counter. This initiative is to enlighten those who are in need of help in terms of food. On top of that, they are actively participating in the Buy Malaysian Campaign. They do not have their homegrown products but mainly the local products that are packed in large portion and quantity.

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Tesco

Tesco is one of the largest British food retailers in Malaysia and they operate Tesco hypermarket and Tesco extra stores that cater for the mass market. Besides carrying locally sourced products, widest selection of price competitive products imported from UK can also be found in their stores.

Their core business is to target the mass market with its competitively priced products; hence you can find 3 different ranges of home brand products namely:

  • Tesco Value – selling basic needs at cheapest price because they spend less on advertising and cost-effective packaging to ensure more savings for customers.
  • Tesco Choice – made to match the market as a leading brand quality at lower prices. They focus on brands quality, taste and performance. Hence you can find Tesco Choice often displayed next to other leading brands. this is to help customers to compare their products with others and knowing that Tesco is helping them to save more without compromising on the quality.
  • Tesco Light Choice – focus on healthier living with lower fats and other undesirable contents without compromising on the quality and taste. It is tailored for the health-conscious customers, those who are undergoing diet plans or are careful with their nutrition intake due to medical reason.

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Set aside shopping in their store, Tesco introduced Grocery Home Shopping (GHS) in a few Klang Valley stores to accommodate online orders. This service allows customers to select products on the screen and help monitor their total expenses as they shop. Customers get to choose the delivery time according to their convenience with a service charge at RM10 only. This approach has enlightened the shopping habits of many working adults to easily juggle with their busy schedule.

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Nutritional Label Design

As they are looking at the living expenses of daily lives by introducing the cost cut and striving to be the low cost leader in the market, Tesco has also put in extra effort on their nutritional label design. Verbal banding, colour coded GDA and integrated labeling format are applied across all of their homegrown products. This approach has made their products somehow more health conscious and helps customers to easily compare their purchase with other products.

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Giant & Cold Storage

The Teng family in Kuala Lumpur founds Giant, a Malaysian brand owned by Giant Capital Holdings (GCH). Giant is the largest hypermarket chain in Malaysia who also merged with Cold Storage in 2013. They have a slight difference in term of the target market. Giant is mostly targeting middle or lower income group whereby Cold Storage is targeting middle to higher income group. Hence a different range of their homegrown products can be found in each store.

Despite the fact that they are known as a homegrown trusted brand, both Giant and Cold Storage are well known to local shoppers as the stores that offer the best value-for-money products. While Giant offers a range of value-for-money home brands (cheap products with lower price); Cold Storage focuses more on food lifestyle rather than supplying necessities. Hence the home brands by Cold Storage such as First Choice (premium quality with higher price) are meant for customers who prefer premium goods. Having said that, First Choice products can still be seen in Giant hypermarket but not vice versa.

Home brand – Giant

Green as their corporate identity, it is applied across all homegrown products packaging. Similar to Aeon Big, they paste a simple printed ad with Giant logo on the shelves under their home brand for easy recognition and also to inform the price cut on selected products. However, they practice a constant reminder statement “Tukar & Jimat Lebih” (change and save more) on each shelf. A minor usage of wobbler sticking on the shelves stating “Hanya di Giant” (Exclusive to Giant) can also been seen on a couple of products.

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Cold Storage Home brand – First Choice

On the other hand, wobbler strategy cannot be seen in Cold Storage store neither do they have a specific statement reminding the customers of their home brands. However they have a wide range of dairy products offer in store with the First Choice logo on the front packaging. The design of their labels is rather clean and consistent with only 2-selected range of colours – orange and blue.

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Nutritional Label Design – Giant & First Choice

Similar to Aeon Big, Giant and Cold Storage applied monotone table format as the nutritional label design at the back of the package. There is no extra information appear at the front package to better inform the customers. However, the nutritional information provides a longer list compare to other homegrown products.

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Carrefour to Aeon Big

Carrefour started in 1994 as the pioneer developer of hypermarket concept in Malaysia. Due to its mother company from French, this hypermarket carried a wide variety of local products as well as imported products especially from Europe. Carrefour had two homegrown product ranges – Carrefour Big Value and Carrefour Quality Line. Each range was catering different quality of products with value prices to customers to meet their spending capabilities.

In 2012, Carrefour was taken over by Aeon Big as their strategy to relocate it resources to other mature and emerging market. Since then, Carrefour has been renamed to Aeon Big, which holds the root meaning of “eternity” in Latin but originated from Japan.

They do not only offer great value products but also offer a one-stop shopping concept such as self-service, customer convenience facilities, free parking and low price on a wide range of fresh food products and non-food categories. One thing Aeon Big emphasizes on is they offer 100% refund policy that protects the customers’ right and against defective goods.

Set aside the hypermarket, Aeon Big also operates Jusco stores, which has the largest high-end department store chain nationwide in Malaysia. They carry the widest selection of products from Japan and the products are mainly targeting at middle to high-income shoppers.

Aeon Big Home brand – Top Valu

 You won’t miss their homegrown brand – Top Valu around the store. They paste a simple printed ad in either red or orange on the shelves under their home brand for easy recognition. Other than that, they also keep the initial Carrefour home brand – Big Value only with a change of corporate colour to Aeon Big’s orange. On top of that, they often use wobblers to inform customers about price cut for selected products or products which are imported. All in all, by walking around their hypermarket, you can easily identify the differences of products with high awareness of the price you pay for.

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Nutritional Label Design

As for their nutritional label design of their homegrown products, it doesn’t offer much differentiation compare to the old Carrefour products. A monotone nutritional table is applied at the back of all products. One or two Top Valu products have an extra nutritional display in front of the packaging, with simple elements such as a tick (contains), dash (does not contain) and triangle (may contain) to remind customers during their purchase. However, halal logo is applied consistently across products.

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“Everything Under the Same Roof” Concept

The retail market has shifted from the stand-alone department store or supermarket to department store-cum-supermarket operators that we now called the hypermarket.

Hypermarket means “everything under the same roof”, which combines supermarket and department stores with respect to the side floor space for the broadest category or products linked to discount price policy or self-service. Networking techniques on sales promotion methods, effective merchandising and large parking space are also offered to customers.

Despite Malaysians are mostly the middle-income earners and eating-out is a common phenomenon; Malaysian spent an extensive 37% amount of their money in hypermarkets, convenience stores and personal care stores. Most of the hypermarkets have their homegrown brands and are working closely with SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) to place their products on the hypermarkets shelves. They packaged these products using homegrown logo and labels using a similar price value message and objectives to attract their potential consumers.

In the early phase, the momentum of homegrown brands by hypermarkets was not fully accepted by Malaysians although the product prices are more competitive than other well-known products. This is due to the perception of the low quality of products sold in a hypermarket. Due to the rising of cost living, consumers are now giving more attention to paying appropriate prices rather than going for the best brands all the time. This has made the hypermarket became a dominant format in the city as 45% to 60% of household customers selected hypermarkets as their main outlets.

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I have shortlisted a few hypermarkets in Malaysia, looking closely at their background, home brand products, some minor advertising display and nutritional label design. These hypermarkets are also the highly visited places for grocery shopping within Malaysia. I will also be touching on the existing nutritional label design in Malaysian hypermarkets in my research.

  1. Carrefour to Aeon Big
  2. Giant & Cold Storage
  3. Tesco
  4. Mydin
  5. KR1M (Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia)