Wahaha, 32, too old?

2019-05-31 12:08:50 source: wzs.org.cn; Translation: In Zhejiang

'Wahaha Princess' or an inspiring young entrepreneur? 

Kelly Zong: I'm still learning 

Kelly Zong has gone beyond the label “Wahaha Princess,” and today she has two identities, President of Hongsheng Beverage Group Co., Ltd. and Head of Wahaha’s public relations department. Recently, Kelly accepted an exclusive interview with our reporter on recent issues. Like her upright father Qinghou Zong, her answers were also short and straightforward.



I am the daughter of Qinghou Zong and a new entrepreneur

Q: You established Hongsheng after studying abroad. Today, Hongsheng has become an expert in the food and beverage industry with a full industrial chain, accounting for one-third of Wahaha’s operating revenue. Why did you choose to start a new business by yourself? Why did you choose the beverage industry?

A: Perhaps my dad is not rich enough. I don’t like being considered as someone born with a silver spoon! My dad is my angel investor. He offered me some money, and with the money, I started a business by myself. I admit that I enjoyed the advantage over others in starting a business. The reason why I choose the food and beverage industry is that my family is in this industry. Moreover, at that time, there were not as many new options for enterprises in China today.

Q: Your father is an outstanding representative of the first generation of Zhejiang businesspeople in the first forty years of reform and opening up. You are one member of the new generation of Zhejiang businesspeople. Your knowledge structure, educational background, and growing experiences are quite different from your father’s. How do such differences affect your operational approach and market judgment? What have you learned from each other?

A: I am not in the same era as my dad’s. He encountered the generation of reform and opening up. His wisdom, courage, and boldness allowed him to do a lot of things that others could not do and to make a great success. I finished most of my studies abroad. I pay more attention to legal regulations and processes in my operations. What I have learned from my father is the reason behind his marketing success - he relied on intuition.


Q: Your father once said, “Wahaha is proof of my existence in this world.”  What does Hongsheng mean to you?

A: Hongsheng has always been a subsidiary of Wahaha (Group) and has undertaken the entire manufacturing process of Wahaha. For me, she is a small experimental field.



Has Wahaha “got old” now? I wish to restore its glory...

Q: After Wahaha turned thirty years old, the world began to realize that it was changing. Especially after you became the head of its public relations department, the brand image of Wahaha was refreshed. Why did you start the change from Nutri-Express? Were you satisfied with the effects?

A: Since 2012, Nutri-Express has been our most important product. However, things that happened afterward, for example, the online rumors about it, had some impact on the product and the sales volume diminished. Of course, I don’t think it was because of online stories alone. There were various factors. Anyway, I realized that I should do something. So, I chose to make innovations and attempts for this product, of which its sales had declined the most. I wished to restore its leading status.

Q: The 32-year-old Wahaha is no more a young brand. In the future, to attract more youthful and more individualistic customers, what adjustments do you think need to be made?

A: After Nutri-Express renewed its package, some 20-year-olds who never drank it before became our fans. We pulled these people back by changing our image. But this is not enough. More changes need to be made, such as strategies and tastes, which have not changed much so far.

Q: How will you change them?

A: In terms of tastes, I think that mixing the juice with milk is not a healthy trend. Nowadays, people prefer pure milk and yogurt. In terms of strategies, there are more changes to be made. I think my dad has been somewhat “shackled” by his past marketing success. In Hangzhou, it is not easy to buy a bottle of Nutri-Express. To solve this market reach problem, I am now exploring how to reach customers through the internet. This is where “our opinions split.” Of course, this is just my opinion. I am not in charge of strategies.


It’s challenging to be a young leader, but I will learn patiently

Q: You must be very busy at work. How do you allocate time?

A: I work for three to four hours per day. During traffic jams on the way to work or back home, I would check public accounts and collect information. In other times, I would do what I like, such as watching American TV shows, as you guys do. (Some co-worker of Wahaha interrupted and said that Kelly was the most efficient senior executive in handling official documents at Hongsheng).

Q: Many of the new generations of Zhejiang businesspeople are reluctant to develop the real economy. You have established Hongsheng through developing the real economy, but now you also make some financial investment. How do you understand the relationship between the two areas?

A: If you did not develop the real economy, where will the money come from? The money earned from investment can be invested back into the industry. I think this is an effective combination of trade and finance.

Q: Your father is an excellent example in the first generation of Zhejiang businesspeople. Other than your father, which of the domestic entrepreneurs do you admire?

A: I have become a fan of Huawei recently. I have just read more than 20,000 words of Ren Zhengfei’s talk, which are inclusive and excellent. Inclusiveness changes one’s decisions and judgments. Only when one is inclusive can he/she improve faster. It is worth learning.

(Executive Editor: Xinyu Xie)

read more