From the array of snacks offered in supermarkets large and small, most people have their go-to potato chip brand. For me, it’s Pringles just because of how easy its packaging allows for storage if I don’t finish it in one sitting.
Yeou Shen, while being a self-proclaimed chips lover, is also health-conscious. He elaborated that he finds value in non-commercial handmade chips, crafted without any preservatives, flavour enhancers, and colouring.
Wanting to prove to Malaysians that chips can be tasty without relying on any artificial flavourings, he invested RM15K seed capital to introduce his own snack brand, tudòs, named after the Chinese word for potato (土豆).
But what intrigued me most about this business wasn’t just its product, but its seemingly disconnected sexual branding that presumably takes food porn to the next level.
Just look through its Instagram page and you’ll find its products with flavours like Slutty Salted Egg Yolk, Horny Salted Egg Yolk, and Flirty Mala.
Was this meant to be some kind of aphrodisiac?
Behind tudòs is graphic designer, Yeou Shen, and his copywriter ex-colleague Sim. Both have experience working in an advertising agency, and given their backgrounds, they told Vulcan Post that there’s an old adage in the advertising and marketing world, which is that sex sells.
Yeou Shen explained that food and sexuality have been connected in various ways throughout history.
Good food has similar neural pathways as good sex; both are physically connected in the limbic system of the brain and they bring out dopamine, which is the hormone that signals cravings. Dopamine plays a huge part in humans and we have no stronger desires than to eat and reproduce.Yeou Shen, founder and creative director of tudòs.
Researching their intended audience, Yeou Shen and Sim discovered that young urbanites often have conversations around sex, whether as a serious discussion or harmless banter.
They further justified that talking about sex in the 21st century shouldn’t be taboo. This is because having comfortable communication about the topic helps develop healthy attitudes towards sex and encourages responsible sexual behaviours.
“These are the reasons tudòs’ branding has been positioned in a more cheeky and sexual light,” they stated. “To connect with our audiences, and to bring the enjoyment of sensual pleasure when eating a delicious bag of good quality chips.”
The risk paid off
As Malaysia is a conservative country comprising many who may not be accepting of a brand that has a more sexual identity, this may open tudòs up to repercussions.
The business partners agreed, and understood that they might face backlash for their choice of bold and provocative branding. However, after back and forth deliberations, they collectively decided to step out from a safe zone and take on the creative risk.
“We’re trying to draw attention to our brand and dispel the stigma of the conversation around sex in a humorous and light-hearted way, not vulgar,” assured the team.
And the risk paid off. So far, Yeou Shen and Sim reported that they have yet to receive adverse reactions from customers about tudòs’ branding. This may mean that their buyers have thus far been from a more open-minded group that also enjoy cheeky marketing.
While their customers are aligned with their initial target market, the duo was surprised to find that 80% of buyers were female, reflecting that this group is more receptive towards the brand’s message.
With that being said, tudòs did have some hard times when it came to public exposure.
“When we wanted to be featured in flea markets or bazaars, or when we were trying to boost our ads on Facebook or Instagram, we had some minor hiccups that we knew would happen,” said Yeou Shen.
He shared that while they are still on the lookout for bazaars that can accommodate their brand message, they’ve been able to advertise on Instagram by toning down the copy used on paid ads. Otherwise, tudòs is mostly reliant on word of mouth marketing.
Learning the ropes of e-commerce
tudòs’ products are sold individually for RM25 per pack and in 3 types of bundles:
- The 138 gift set (RM138) – 3 packs of tudòs chips with a bottle of wine and a limited edition tote bag;
- The 90 snack box (RM90) – 4 packs of tudòs chips;
- The 69 bundle (RM69) – 3 packs of tudòs chips.
As the brand is a side hustle and Yeou Shen’s first venture, he shared that selling the snacks online hasn’t been the smoothest ride. Handling all elements of e-commerce from customer service to packaging and logistics has even led to him missing an order or two.
“Since then, I’ve learned how to delegate and work on my planning and organisation skills,” said the 26-year old.
4 months in, the tudòs team of 2 credits their breakthrough moment to their repeat customers spreading the word about their chips.
They told us that most of their initial customers were merely intrigued and amused by the cheeky branding and packaging. After tasting tudòs’ chips though, they started coming back and referred the brand to their friends and family members.
The team’s proudest moment for the venture came on tudòs’ launch day, where they sold out their initial stock and had to go into production immediately to cope with demands.
Thus far, Yeou Shen and Sim reported that they’ve sold over 2,000 packs of tudòs chips since July 2021.
Still operating the business from home, Yeou Shen hopes to relocate production to a bigger facility in the near future as business scales.
The duo is also planning to expand their product offerings by coming up with more potato chips flavours, other types of snacks, and limited edition sets as well. Furthermore, they are working on expanding the delivery to East Malaysia and potentially Singapore too.
- You can learn more about tudòs 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