Norma Chu, founder and CEO of Day Day Cook
She may not be a celebrity chef but Norma Chu, the analyst-turned-cook, is a familiar face in food-obsessed Hong Kong, where she has her recipe website to encourage youths to learn cooking
Today, her Day Day Cook is a fast-growing food business spanning Hong Kong and China. Besides offering thousands of recipes and cooking videos, its online platform also sells meal kits, as well as other food- and cooking-related products. Earlier this year, it raised US$5 million in Series A financing from Heyi Capital, 500 Startups and mFund.
Day Day Cook reaches out to users via social networks such as WeChat, China’s most popular messaging/social networking app, and video platforms like YouTube and Youku.
According to the combined statistics on YouTube and Youku, Day Day Cook has nearly 100 million views to date and about 900,000 followers. On Facebook, it has nearly half a million followers. In total, the company says it has 40 million followers.
“The core is really content; it’s the foundation of Day Day Cook. Everything else evolves or extends through content,” Ms Chu told CompassList in an interview during the Rise conference earlier this month.
Content is king
To create meaningful, engaging videos, Ms Chu focuses on understanding what customers like and packaging her content to cater to their tastes.
“All our content has to look nice; be very appealing, fun and enticing for young audiences,” she said. “We position ourselves as a lifestyle brand.”
Her success in building up a strong young following has made Day Day Cook attractive to merchants. They partner Ms Chu and her platform to sell to millennials and women in their thirties, from Panasonic promoting its latest line of ovens, to Bertolli with its olive oils.
Day Day Cook is hence a “one-stop shop” for those who love cooking and food, Ms Chu said.
“You come to Day Day Cook, you learn cooking, you learn the recipes, and you don’t have to worry about not being able to find the ingredients. We partner the best merchants and link you to them.”
Currently, the startup has two editorial teams – based in Hong Kong and Shanghai – with under 20 staff. In total, the company employs about 80.
According to Ms Chu, its audience in China tend to be more adventurous and are more likely to try new recipes and, for example, fusion cooking. She has also introduced Korean recipes to ride on the K-pop and K-drama craze.
Cracking the China market
Day Day Cook launched in mainland China last year. Video platforms played a big part in growing its reach in this new market, Ms Chu said.
“How do we cut into this market [China]? We figured it would be through video platforms, because all our content is video-based… [and also] we can get the cheapest, most effective reach.”
In Hong Kong, Day Day Cook gets its main revenue from advertising. China, however, being a newer (and different) market, warranted a different approach.
“The biggest opportunity in China is the integration between e-commerce and content,” Ms Chu said.
“In WeChat, if I show how to make laksa [a Southeast Asian noodle dish], for example, and you’ll need to use this kind of coconut milk, users will click on the link [that leads to Day Day Cook's online store]."
About 70–80% of Day Day Cook’s users on WeChat directly go on to visit the Day Day Cook store. “For us, that [conversion rate] is tremendous,” she said.
And while there are already many e-commerce sites in China offering attractive, imported foodstuffs and ingredients, consumers aren’t necessarily buying them, simply because they don’t know how to cook or use them.
The point is to “educate the customers,” Ms Chu said.
If you’re an average consumer in China, you go to [an e-commerce site] and find beautiful Norwegian salmon, but what do you do with it?
“But if there is a Day Day Cook video next to the salmon, you will go, oh I can do that, and now I want to buy it.”
As the conversation wound down, Ms Chu was asked about her experience as a young female entrepreneur in the male-dominated world of business.
Her reply was quick and firm: “I don’t see myself as a woman entrepreneur. You can’t see yourself [as that] or think you should be treated differently because you are a woman.
“Everyone is fighting the same battle or trying to get into this market as you are.”
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