Of the variety of snacks offered in supermarkets large and small, most people have their flagship brand of potato chips. For me, it’s Pringles only because of its easy-to-store packaging if I don’t finish it in one sitting.
Yeou Shen, who claims to be a chip lover, is also health conscious. She explains that she finds value in non-commercial handmade chips, made without preservatives, flavor enhancers, and coloring.
Wanting to prove to Malaysians that chips can be delicious without relying on any artificial flavours, he invested an initial capital of RM15K to introduce his own snack brand, tuds, named after the Chinese word for potato (土豆).
But what intrigues me the most about this business is not just the product, but also its seemingly disconnected sexual branding that might take food pornography to the next level.
Just look through his Instagram page and you’ll find his products in flavors like Slutty Salted Egg Yolk, Horny Salted Egg Yolk, and Flirty Mala.
Does this mean it’s some kind of aphrodisiac?
Behind the tudòs are graphic designer, Yeou Shen, and his former co-copywriter Sim. Both have experience working in advertising agencies, and given their backgrounds, they told the Vulcan Post that there’s an old adage in advertising and marketing, which is that sex sells.
Yeou Shen explains that food and sexuality have been linked in various ways throughout history.
Good food has the same neural pathways as good sex; The two are physically connected in the limbic system of the brain and they secrete dopamine, which is a hormone that signals cravings. Dopamine plays a huge role in humans and we have no stronger desire than to eat and reproduce.
Yeou Shen, founder and creative director of tudos.
Examining their target audience, Yeou Shen and Sim found that young urbanites often have conversations around sex, either as serious discussions or harmless banter.
They further confirmed that talking about sex in the 21st century should not be taboo. This is because having comfortable communication about the topic helps develop healthy attitudes towards sex and encourages responsible sexual behavior.
“This is the reason why tuds branding is positioned in a more naughty and sexual way,” they said. “To connect with our audience, and to deliver the pleasures of sensual pleasure while eating a bag of delicious, good quality chips.”
Risk pays off
Since Malaysia is a conservative country made up of a large number of people who may not accept brands that have a more sexual identity, this can open the door to repercussions.
Business partners agree, and understand that they may face strong reactions to bold and provocative brand choices. However, after deliberation back and forth, they collectively decided to step out of the safe zone and take creative risks.
“We’re trying to grab our brand’s attention and de-stigmatize conversations around sex in a way that’s funny and lighthearted, not vulgar,” assures the team.
And the risk pays off. So far, Yeou Shen and Sim reported that they haven’t received any negative reactions from customers about the tudos branding. This may mean that their buyers by far are from a more open-minded group who also enjoy brash marketing.
While their customers were aligned with their initial target market, both were surprised to find that 80% of shoppers were women, reflecting that this group is more receptive to brand messages.
With that said, tudo does have a hard time when it comes to the public.
“When we want to be featured at a flea market or bazaar, or when we are trying to improve our advertising on Facebook or Instagram, we run into some small obstacles that we know will happen,” says Yeou Shen.
He shared that while they are still looking for a bazaar that can accommodate their brand message, they can advertise on Instagram by reducing the copy used in paid advertising. Otherwise, tudo relies mostly on word of mouth marketing.
Learning the ropes of e-commerce
Tuds products are sold individually for RM25 per pack and in 3 types of bundles:
- Gift pack 138 (RM138) – 3 packs of chip tuds with a bottle of wine and a limited edition tote bag;
- 90 snack boxes (RM90) – 4 packs of chip tuds;
- Bundle 69 (RM69) – 3 packs of chip tuds.
Since the brand is Yeou Shen’s side business and first venture, he shared that selling snacks online was not a smooth journey. Handling all elements of e-commerce from customer service to packaging and logistics even cost him an order or two.
“Since then, I’ve learned how to delegate and work on my planning and organizational skills,” the 26-year-old said.
4 months later, a tudos team of 2 commends their breakthrough moment to their regulars who spread the word about their chips.
They tell us that most of their early customers were simply intrigued and amused by the cheeky brand and packaging. After tasting the tudòs chips, they started coming back and referring the brand to their friends and family members.
The team’s proudest moment for the venture came on tudos launch day, where they sold their initial stock and had to get into production quickly to keep up with demand.
So far, Yeou Shen and Sim report that they have sold more than 2,000 packs of tudos chips since July 2021.
Still running the business from home, Yeou Shen hopes to move production to larger facilities in the near future as the business scales.
The duo also plan to expand their product offerings by bringing in more potato chip flavors, other types of snacks, and limited edition sets as well. In addition, they are working to expand shipments to East Malaysia and potentially also to Singapore.
- You can learn more about tudo here.
- You can read about more Malaysian F&B brands we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Yeou Shen, founder and creative director of tudòs