When Nurhanis Abu Hassan took over her father’s cosmetics business, it became unrecognisable from what it had been during the previous decade. But rather than railing against the changes she brought in, he was thrilled, the entrepreneur says.
The first thing she did, back in 2013, was to move into an entirely different category. She had realised the margins being made from his moisturiser and serum products were too low because of a combination of the high costs charged by suppliers for the raw materials and the low prices the Malaysian consumer market was willing to pay.
“So we moved into natural healthcare supplements in 2013,” Nurhanis, who is now 33, said. “From then I had five main products covering the skin, the body and men’s and women’s health After a while I choose which one people are most likely to buy so I chose detox drinks.”
Next, the young entrepreneur from the northern, largely rural state of Kedah changed the business’s approach to marketing, from entirely offline to a digital-based operation.
Nurhanis is among a new generation of entrepreneurs in the state who have embraced online marketing through channels such as Facebook and Instagram, through which she runs her business entirely.
Her father, who had been anchored to offline marketing in his business life, even after digital had started to soar, approves of the move and even dabbles with his own e-commerce hobby during his retirement.
Kedah, which is known as the rice bowl of Malaysia, is largely remote and is not blessed with the logistics the more populous and developed states to the south enjoy, so digital marketing and online retail are perfectly suited for businesses there.
Nurhanis’s business, Vitanyys, which has grown to employ 15 staff and manufactures and retails a number of men’s and women’s health supplements costing from MYR80 (US$19.15) upwards.
“The cost of advertising is obviously cheaper than the traditional method,” she explained.
"If you want to buy a page of advertising in a newspaper, it could cost RM50,000 for one day. Through Facebook advertising, that RM50,000 could last me a month, so it represents much better value, which we see convert into sales.
“A lot of my friends are converting from traditional to digital because it makes things easy for us in Kedah. And you don’t need premises to start off with.”