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Pearls of eComm Wisdom: The Bubble Tea Club Story | #166

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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

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Pam has spent the last decade immersed in marketing & building online communities with experience in agency, corporate & start up environments. She’s currently cmo & director of bubble tea club. Her purpose is to close the gap between asian representation in western societies through edutainment.
Her curiosity for marketing, community & brand universes has been recognised by facebook APAC’s vice president (Dan Neary), A Current Affair, Insider Retailer, Business Insider Australia, Apple News Spotlight, Herald Sun & more.
You can contact Pamela at LinkedIn

Pamela talks authenticity, edutainment and the coolest club in town. Bubblers unite!

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Pamela Yip from Bubble Tea Club.  When Covid hit, within a week of losing most of her marketing clients, Pamela Yip had conceived and launched a new business with her friend Jenny Le.  Their idea – DIY bubble tea – was timely and a huge success – if the people can’t go and get bubble tea, then bubble tea must come to the people!  Bubble Tea Club has now had over 40,000 customers or  ‘bubblers’ as they are known and the company is generating over $2m in revenue.  They’ve also been voted in the Top 20 Coolest retailers by Inside Retail, alongside Culture Kings and Country Road.  In this chat Pamela shares what it’s like to be a young, Asian, female entrepreneur, how she and her Co-founder nailed their crowdfunding campaign video and tells us all about ‘edutainment’, which is at the heart of her marketing philosophy.

“We learned alot from our customers, but the most surprisingly thing was that most of our demographic was actually Western”

Pamela Yip

Questions answered in this episode include
  • What has surprised you most about launching your bubble tea business?
  • How did you approach your super-successful crowdfunding campaign?
  • As someone with an agency background, what advice would you have for agency people thinking of moving over to the client side?

Be different

“Traditionally, people usually start a brand pack first, but we didn’t. When we launched the business, we had no name for the business and we had no packaging.  Bubble Tea Club came from (the desire) to build a community. So Tim, one of our Co-founders actually came up with the name. And so for me, I thought about it in terms of  “How can I evolve the brand and what people know of bubble tea in our logo and in our branding?”

Because bubble tea has actually been around for 40 years. I knew about it from my parents. And the bubble tea brands, they are very traditional…you show logos of the actual bubble tea cup. So for me it was, “How could I develop a brand that suits today’s time and suits social media?” In terms of then pulling in the colours, we did a lot of A/B testing on our social media and in our Facebook ads.

So we ran creatives that had yellow background versus taro and we were starting to build our brand deck off of what converts online. So it’s a very different approach to traditional. Our brand is still evolving now.”

Be authentic

“…that pitch video, we actually ended up shooting that across two days until 12:00 a.m., even past midnight. I scripted a lot of humour into it because that’s how Jenny and I actually talk in real life. We were just standing there, we had trench coats on and it looked professional.  

And we recorded that first half and then we looked back at it and went, “What are we doing? We look so rigid. It’s not us.” And we showed our team and they called us out on it too. They’re like, “What are you doing? This is not you.” 

So I was like, “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s go back to our original scripts. Let’s move, let’s go to Jenny’s apartments and just be ourselves.”  And I think that was really important to us. And we’re really glad that we made that decision.  Because you just get the message across emotionally a lot better,  because it’s who you are.”

Be assertive

“When you’re an Asian female, there’s still a lot of tradition around you. You should be quiet. You should be a lot more feminine. You shouldn’t be assertive. It comes across as very dominant.  So in some ways I had to overcome that myself first.  I also don’t look like my age. People don’t take me very seriously.  So I’ve had to really learn to build confidence. 

My business partner for my digital marketing agency is a male. And in those meetings they would just talk to my business partner, even though I was the one that was running the client and running the ideas. 

So I actually had to learn to be a lot more assertive, a lot more confident in what I’m saying, but it was very hard for me, because I didn’t like the idea of coming across as, what’s the word? It’s not assertive, but aggressive.  I had to learn the difference between the two, that I was being assertive, not aggressive. And that my contribution to this conversation is going to benefit everyone. So yeah. As a whole ballgame, I’m still learning it. I challenge a lot of my team to do that as well. Because I’ve been in their shoes.”

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