Robam CMO Ye Danpeng (Ye Danpeng) accepted an interview with WARC and shared how this kitchen appliance company responds to uncertainty with corporate strategic determination and long-termism, and how it returns to the special consumption perspective of the Chinese. This is the opportunity for local brands to solve problems for Chinese people. Focusing on Chinese cooking culture, ROBAM can also encourage the sharing of culture and content by recreating an interactive platform, and use this culture as a carrier to practice effective cooking. value of public welfare and education.
WARC: Robam released its first ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) report this year. It has good practices in terms of business model, innovation, supply chain, etc. In your opinion, the impact of the three-year epidemic on the company’s sustainable development strategy What impact has the implementation of , and how to better implement the strategy within the enterprise?
Ye Danpeng: Sustainable development has been promoted in all walks of life around the world. Among the values that Robam adheres to from beginning to end, "sustainable operation" is more important than "growing overnight". In my opinion, the short-term epidemic or other uncertainties in the environment can only bring about some tactical adjustments, and there is no wavering in the strategic focus.
Robam Electric has gone through 43 years, which is a very long life for a Chinese private enterprise, especially for a brand in the kitchen appliance industry. A very important point for a long-lived enterprise is to see what kind of business philosophy and thinking it has adhered to. Obviously, Robam Appliances is working hard to be a century-old enterprise, not for short-term attention. What we think more about now is not to pursue more commercial value, but to coexist harmoniously beyond commercial value, so we are thinking about what value we can create and how to use our main business to generate more social significance.
Our main business is kitchen appliances, cooking. This can make our family life and kitchen life healthier and more fun. Cooking can also promote harmonious relationships among family members, which in turn can lead to harmonious relationships in society. In today's environment of uncertainty, cooking also has the power to heal social emotions. People's family values are becoming more and more important, and they are beginning to learn to taste life in ordinary and simple days, so more and more people walk into the kitchen and find that cooking is healing and valuable. So we also hope that cooking will become a harmonious bond linking family members and society, so as to inspire more people to participate in cooking and create a better social atmosphere. It is very meaningful to do this well, and it is also something we have spared no effort to promote in recent years. This is our philosophy on sustainable development.
In terms of specific measures, we have three major social responsibility projects outside our main business:
The first is food education. The Ministry of Education issued the "Compulsory Education Labor Curriculum Standards (2022 Edition)" in May 2022. The original intention is to let children learn simple cooking. In fact, Robam Electric has been doing this since 2016. It has established food education classrooms mainly in primary schools. The correct concept of diet, while harvesting the joy of growth, and to enhance the communication between parents and children. We will export standardized classroom design, cooking equipment and rigorous curriculum development, instruct teachers on how to take such cooking classes, and do classroom activity operations, which is a complete system. We plan to implement the food education project in 100 schools in the future, gradually radiating from Zhejiang Province to the whole country, as a long-term social responsibility activity. In a school we have been operating, students in grades two to four have one of our food education classes every week.
The second is the macro "dual carbon" strategy matching, which mainly falls on two levels. The first is green production. Our first unmanned factory to be completed in 2021 has improved the level of automation. Although it has not yet achieved zero emissions, it is very close to ensuring that the entire link of the manufacturing end minimizes the impact on the environment and society. burden. The second is the green manufacturing of products, which involves the entire product list. No matter from the selection of materials, or the measures we are currently vigorously promoting such as energy efficiency and water efficiency that are higher than national standards, we can bring a healthier kitchen lifestyle to more families.
The third is common prosperity. It is mainly some assistance actions carried out by the corporate charity foundation of Robam Electric. At present, it is more about enabling some poor and low-income families to have the conditions and ability to use good kitchen equipment.
WARC: When it comes to the mentality changes of more consumers entering the kitchen under the epidemic, how can brands like Robam Appliances grasp these changes and match new demands?
Ye Danpeng: Changes in user mentality also lead to changes in brand mentality. In the past, many brands were very utilitarian, including ourselves, thinking more about how to create more new users, rather than maintaining and retaining existing users.
In the stock era, users cannot grow unconditionally. We followed users back to their homes and found that they walked into the kitchen with a lot of questions and needed help. For example, people who are just learning to cook don’t know whether to put the oil in a hot pot with cold oil, a hot pot with hot oil, or a cold pot with hot oil, or a cold pot with cold oil in the first oiling process. For many similar questions, consumers can also find professional answers, but after searching, they will get many different versions, and things become very complicated.
At this time, it depends on how the brand is defined. It turns out that we are a company that manufactures kitchen appliances, products, and equipment. We only need to solve product problems, but today we cannot define it that way. Users want to complete cooking through kitchen appliances to achieve a better kitchen life, and the product is just a medium and a tool. Therefore, the brand should appear at the right time and in the right scene at this time, and be able to effectively provide help where users should receive help.
Brands need to return to the perspective of users. Our strategic boundary is in the kitchen. Part of the problems that may be encountered in the kitchen are solved by products, and the other part is solved by services. Doing all of these can create value for users. So Robam redefines itself as a platform for better solving users' cooking problems. In this way, the boundaries of what we have to do are expanded, and the angle of thinking about problems is also different. There are many values that can be created.
WARC: You gave an example of user insights like cold pot and hot oil. How does Robam Electric gain insight into users and discover new business opportunities?
Ye Danpeng: We have a dedicated user research department to conduct regular and irregular user research. The survey method is more traditional, but the frequency is very high. We basically conduct research on Chinese kitchen trends every year, looking at the overall fundamentals to see what kind of yearning the emerging crowd has for the kitchen, and putting it into each subgroup, and then down to each subcategory or subdivision scene , and then do specific research projects accordingly.
Compared with the past, the logic of research has changed a lot. In the past, it was more about verification, and companies threw existing ideas in front of users to gain their approval; now it is a switch of perspective. The logic we adopt is Clayton Christensen's "Jobs to Be Done", which proposes to divide the user's entire life scenes into specific tasks. We divide the entire link of cooking from pre-cooking, cooking to post-cooking into 34 actions. For example, flipping a spoon is an action during cooking. Every action means that the user needs to complete a specific task, and behind each task we need our product help and support. We need to find unsatisfied value from these specific scenarios and tasks.
When we fully put ourselves into the user's entire cooking journey and specific scenarios, and the scenarios and granularity can be cut very finely, then enterprises will find more and more opportunities.
WARC: In the past two years, many companies have faced various survival problems, but how does Robam Electric maintain its performance on the basis of combining its category with current consumer demand?
Ye Danpeng: Under the impact of such an environment, many companies are more concerned about the issue of survival, at least we do not need to consider this issue. Behind the joy, we have to plan dividends for the future. In the past few years, everyone has been reflecting on what kind of long-term things should be done. Looking at the performance of Robam Electric, it comes from several aspects:
First, the bonus of environmental changes to top brands is the strengthening and increase of industry concentration, which is an opportunity.
Second, the era of stocks is beneficial to top brands or brands with good reputation, because stock users have experience in using products, and when it comes to the replacement cycle, they will choose familiar brands again.
Third, the value brought by our strategic reserves in the early years. This reserve is more at the level of emerging categories. We found that emerging categories, represented by all-in-one dishwashers and steam ovens, are growing very fast. So we seized the dividends of new categories.
Why can we seize this dividend when all brands are making reserves? Let’s go back to the product itself. Today’s kitchen appliances are actually imported products, and none of them were invented by the Chinese. But our product-based technological innovation has achieved good localization. The high-suction range hood made by Robam more than ten years ago combined with the cooking habits of the Chinese people has made a revolutionary breakthrough in product technology, making it a product more suitable for Chinese kitchens. The same is true for the current emerging categories. If you simply copy foreign technology, you will not be able to adapt to the environment. Over the past few years, national brands have undergone rapid changes in localized transformation and innovation, and ROBAM launched dishwashers that can wash pots in emerging categories, as well as three-in-one products that integrate disinfection cabinets, dryers and dishwashers. , which ignited the market all of a sudden after its launch, all of which show that the product is defined by the soul that understands Chinese cooking and Chinese kitchen better. Chinese kitchens are not suitable for imported products. Only with such insights and innovations can Robam Electric grow in these emerging categories and have the opportunity to seize category dividends.
WARC: In terms of the logic of long-term development, what other innovative points have you found for Robam?
Ye Danpeng: The first level is to grasp the essence and the underlying technology. For example, whether a dish is well cooked or not, temperature and time are the two most important dimensions other than ingredients in the cooking process. We have to study these two things thoroughly, and start to lean towards basic research in the direction of the entire R&D and experimentation. In the past, it was more applied research. Our basic research laboratory specializes in the relationship between ingredients at different temperatures, times, cooking methods and combinations of different cooking settings, to find a good result, for example, a vegetable changes at every degree from 60 to 90 degrees How about the nutrient loss in , we find the key variables. What users want is delicious food, not how gorgeous the process is.
The second level is soft technology. In the past, what we did was hardware, and more improvements were made from the dimensions of machinery and structure. Nowadays, the creation of soft power is more and more prominent in products, such as service, interaction, user interface or user operation, so we should put it in the same important dimension as hardware technology. It's a big way of thinking and reframing of organizational capabilities.
We recently released ROKI, a digital kitchen appliance. Its difference does not lie in technological breakthroughs, but opens up a new interface and new product interaction logic. The relationship between products and users is accompanied throughout the process. Users have high-frequency interactions in the process of using ROKI. As a non-standardized product, ROKIi has continuously evolved a complete set of solutions during the interaction, that is, through OTA upgrades and version iterations. The user's changes to this product are just like the mobile phone will receive the message of version update.
In addition, we also need to inspire users to use the product to create more content. Our role is to build a platform, connect to users, and connect the relationship between users. Therefore, we hope to develop ROKI into a self-organizing, self-propagating, and self-growing content development mechanism, allowing users to create and share content on this platform for the purpose of communicating and cooking, forming a small ecology. I think this is a reconstruction of the user relationship in the kitchen appliance industry.
WARC: For traditional e-commerce platforms and emerging interest-based social content platforms, how does Robam deploy? How to use them to achieve the desired effect on the AIPL journey?
Ye Danpeng: In terms of platform e-commerce, our job is to combine the rhythm of channels and make good use of their tools.
I think the current state of emerging e-commerce is that the efficiency is not high and the scale is not large, but they have to do it. The reason for the small scale is related to the category attribute. After all, we are relatively heavy and decoration-related products, and the category attribute determines the limited scale and volume. But what cannot be ignored is the huge traffic bearing role of emerging e-commerce itself, as well as the role of closed-loop links after marketing. For platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou, we naturally position them as platforms for marketing activities, with the purpose of brand exposure and user operation, and then we will enrich and close the loop on the back link. On these emerging e-commerce platforms, we do not regard sales as the first goal, but we have also seen their growth. For example, Douyin, our brand can also make hundreds of millions of scale, so we take it as an important complement of e-commerce channels.
But emerging e-commerce is a supplement to offline channels. Offline channels used to rely on product recommendations from shopping guides, but now there are no people in stores or stores, and there are more shopping guides than customers. Under the traffic bottleneck, it means that our people and stores have to go out. If people want to go out, they may go to the surrounding decoration companies and communities to expand their business scope; when the store goes out, it means to make the store online and do live broadcasting with the store as a unit. Therefore, emerging e-commerce is a new tool to help offline channels connect users. Through live broadcasts, more people can get in touch with our emerging categories and complete the education process of new categories.
AIPL's tools are very mature now, but the biggest challenge for us is the management problem in the process. The core is to turn the efficiency of each link into a set of indicator system and use it to manage the internal. For example, the cognitive crowd represented by A cannot be unlimited. If the funnel is less, the efficiency of each link will be improved, thereby improving the business results.
WARC: For the private domain, what is the goal of Robam Appliances?
Ye Danpeng: At the private domain level, we still need to establish long-term relationships through data. I think there are no successful cases in the home appliance industry. In the stock market, we must do private domain. But we are not fast-moving consumer goods, and the repurchase rate is very low, so the efficiency of doing this is not high.
There are two things that need to be understood when doing a private domain: first, what value can I create for users, and what can I create to allow users to actively have a relationship with the platform; second, how to maintain activity, that is, create playability. There must be a feedback and reward mechanism to encourage everyone to actively create content, so that everyone can grow and organize themselves. This is difficult, and we haven't fully figured it out yet, but we have already begun to do it.
We are now trying to use the digital kitchen appliance ROKI to maintain the first batch of seed users of ROKI, and study how to explore some mature models in this relationship, and then enlarge it to the level of the entire ROKI user operation. In the end, it must be a process of co-creating content, products, ideas and growing together with users. I think this is the highest level in the current community relationship.
WARC: So when it comes to the specific creative form and content, what kind of things does Robam hope to make?
Ye Danpeng: From the perspective of brand marketing, we have calmed down a lot in the past two years, and found that we still need to settle down and do it with a main line.
What we continue to do every year is to operate our brand according to the logic of the platform and as an IP. This platform should be scattered but not scattered, focus on one point, do things that are 1 meter wide but 1,000 meters deep, and do a thorough job of cooking.
We have now identified several major platforms, such as the "Chinese Cooking Competition", which we will make into an annual event; the "Culinary Creator Conference" is also something we do every year. The purpose of these initiatives is to help Robam Electric build a cooking ecology in the future and link partners in this ecology.
In terms of brand IP, we have the food education project for teenagers mentioned above; there is also a variety show "I heard it is delicious" customized with Zhejiang Satellite TV in 2021. Next, we hope to make it a "cooking" " The voice of China". A series of similar practices are ultimately building a platform to focus on cooking to make continuous content.
WARC: Omni-channel is also a more prominent marketing method due to the limited offline activities in 2022. What is the investment ratio and revenue ratio of Robam Appliances in this regard?
Ye Danpeng: Robam has three channels: 2B, 2C and 2G. 2B mainly cooperates with real estate developers, 2G cooperates with government agencies and has just started to grow, and 2C is divided into online and offline. In terms of scale, the user scale of 2B, offline 2C and online 2C services is divided into three parts of the world. We need to determine investment based on the current problems and challenges encountered by each sector, as well as its market size and trends.
In terms of 2B, the entire refined decoration market is currently highly uncertain, so we operate with the purpose of maintaining stability and preventing risks.
For the online 2C part, in addition to platform e-commerce, we still have further opportunities to capture dividends in emerging e-commerce.
Offline 2C is the place most in need of reform. We used to be dominated by offline channels, but now we encounter traffic bottlenecks and low efficiency offline, and we need to redefine the value of offline channels. It will definitely be a highly integrated with online, based on user experience as the logic, to provide users with a good scene, a good way of life, and become a space carrier that more closely maintains user relationships. Therefore, offline reform and investment are what we need to do most.
Stores will not open more and more like in the past, but will open more and more refined, open large stores, open good stores, this is a big change. Of course, the same is true for online. In the past, our online logic was biased towards sales channels. Now online channels must be well integrated, more closely matched with the overall brand marketing rhythm, and play the role of the post-marketing link to further improve synergy. promote.
WARC: In 2010, Robam started to transform into digital and intelligent, replaced people with machines, and later invested 500 million yuan to build a future factory. Why should we continue to invest in this area under the current environment?
Ye Danpeng: Around 2012, the Zhejiang provincial government called for replacing people with machines. We responded to the call and realized the initial intelligence of the equipment. From 2015 to 2016, we started to build an intelligent manufacturing base and realized full automation in some production links. , but there is no connection between equipment and equipment, between people and equipment, between the background and the front desk, and there are still information islands; in 2020, we built the first unmanned factory and realized the digitization of the entire value chain. From the supply chain, orders, to manufacturing, logistics and users, all are connected.
We were able to do this because the government attached great importance to this matter and provided financial support, which gave us a lot of help. Robam Electric is the first batch of future factories in Zhejiang Province.
Secondly, thanks to the development of technology, some new infrastructure technologies such as 5G and edge computing are mature, which gives us the conditions for infrastructure construction. Our factories basically apply these new infrastructure technologies.
Finally, it is the result of the company's strategic traction. Robam proposed digital upgrades in the last strategic cycle, covering all aspects of the company's business chain, including marketing digitalization, user digitalization, product digitalization, management digitalization, manufacturing digitalization, R&D digitalization, and operation digitalization. Data guide decision-making to ensure business integrity. Data management of the value chain. Therefore, our unmanned factory and data manufacturing are only a part of the company's overall digital upgrade.
The effect of unmanned factories is obvious. Our data shows that the unmanned factory has improved our product quality to 99%, increased production efficiency by 45%, shortened the product development cycle by 48%, and reduced production costs and operating costs by 21% and 15% respectively. At present, although the overall investment of unmanned factories is large, with the long-term return and government support, it is no longer a pure investment project.
WARC: Do you think "de-globalization" is an opportunity for local brands?
Ye Danpeng: I don't really support the idea of "de-globalization", but it is indeed an opportunity. Local brands must truly establish the influence of national brands, but not every industry has such an opportunity, and it needs a cultural matrix that can be relied upon.
Today, if Chinese brands are to be strong, on the one hand, they still have to rely on the endorsement of the country, to see what can be talked about in China's extensive and profound cultural assets, such as food culture related to us, and calligraphy art, etc. I think these are all You can lean on your back. The kitchen appliance industry has such natural conditions. It can thoroughly study Chinese cooking culture, and then make corresponding products that conform to cultural concepts. The dishwasher and steam-oven integrated machine I mentioned earlier are also made according to this logic. It must be attractive.
Many consumers think that Siemens is better and German brands are better. This is an existing mentality, and we do not deny it. But we found that many consumers of Robam Appliances originally loved Siemens. In the end, they were moved by Robam because Robam truly considered consumer needs from the standpoint of the Chinese and launched corresponding solutions.
So it is still necessary to attract users with real skills and good things at a real price, not just because now that the country is strong, companies will have opportunities, which is not that simple. Users no longer buy this brand because of its prestige. Brands must have real solutions that can be recognized by users. This is the kingly way.
WARC: As a local brand that has developed to a relatively mature stage today, Robam Electric can give other local brands any advice or confidence boost?
Ye Danpeng: I dare not say that it is a suggestion, but I will talk about my impressions from the perspective of practical operation of the enterprise.
The first point is long-termism. If these things that happened today are placed in the long river of history, although it is a major change unseen in a century, it is still a normal phenomenon in the development of history, and it is not a destructive disaster. Therefore, it is necessary to have long-term concentration, which is the prerequisite for an enterprise to be able to "sustainably operate".
Enterprises must do strategy, and doing strategic work in the past few years has been of great help to Robam Electric. But in terms of strategic direction, instead of looking for variables, it is more about looking for invariants. Just like Bezos, the founder of Amazon, said, he doesn’t want people to ask him what will change in 10 years, but what will not change. Finding unchanging things allows us to look at problems with the "end" as the "beginning". We can have such concentration today, more because we have found something that remains unchanged. The cooking track is the direction of the vision of a better life, and it will become wider and wider.
The second point is the change of mentality. Many things have entered an uncertain state, so we cannot think about things with linear thinking, but must return to a rational state.
The third point is focus. The Chinese market is very deep, and no matter how small and granular the market is, it is still huge. Although the demographic dividend is not as rich as it used to be, it is still huge. How do we become the leader in the segmented market, how to specialize, instead of making more articles on making it bigger and wider, focus on the ability that the company is best at, and polish it deeper and penetrate it. Every company needs to identify its own longboard, and then think about how to make it last longer.
WARC: Then in terms of talent structure, because in 2022, leading Internet companies will set off a wave of layoffs, and the "chill" proposed by Huawei Ren Zhengfei will affect "talent", which may become a wave of talent redistribution in the market. You How do you see the changes in the enterprise talent structure?
Ye Danpeng: I mainly talk about two points. First, challenges and adjustments will necessarily involve organizational restructuring. If so many things just mentioned are to be implemented and implemented well, the core still depends on people and organizations. Therefore, the organization needs to be restructured, or a new organization is born, and the core is user-centered.
Organizational restructuring involves a series of things: whether the company has such a strategy, whether it has designed a user-centered process, whether it has matched the corresponding mechanism to empower front-line personnel to handle user relations, and whether there is a cultural atmosphere within the team to encourage everyone To create value for users, how to measure respect for users, how to invest and allocate resources, from the physical strength of the top management to the code of conduct of each employee. We need to think through this series of things to design such an organization. Robam Electric is currently making adjustments in this direction.
Second, all walks of life are scrambling for talents. We must do a good job in the links of selecting, educating, retaining and employing talents. Robam Electric has a large number of fresh graduates coming in every year to keep our organization alive. In fact, ROBAM’s attitude towards talents is very open. We have the gene of sharing. Internally, we talk about "platform empowerment, mutual achievement, and endless life." Ren Zhengfei has a saying that "the direction is generally correct, and the organization maintains vitality." Boss Electric basically follows this direction. Give young people sufficient space and opportunities, and the organization will naturally be healthy.