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Reclaiming instant noodles
Independent study + Live client

Ask: Increase growth and engagement with "in-the-know millennial foodies," letting them know about Omsom's new product line, Omsom Saucy Noodles. 

Problem: Instant noodles are historically seen as a “value” buy with little nutritional value. People struggle to see the significance of another noodle brand.

Solution: Reclaim instant noodles, and celebrate Omsom Saucy Noodles as the graduated, elevated premium noodle that can be eaten whenever, however.

My Role:
Research

Strategy

Business case + brand audit 

Survey + interviews

Creative ideation 

Client management

Project management

Creative Executions By:

Kendall Boron (Art Director)

Mark McColey (Copywriter)

Francis Phan (Experience Designer)

Background

Om sòm: Vietnamese phrase, "noisy or rambunctious"

Often used by parents to scold their children. 

Omsom launched in May 2020 and quickly emerged as a pioneer, "rising tides" and "raising all boats" with its innovative products and unapologetic messaging. Its current product line includes sauce starters that range in various Asian cuisines, such as Thai Larb Sauce, Vietnamese Lemongrass BBQ Sauce, Korean Spicy Bulgogi Sauce, and more. 

As one of the first Asian brands unafraid of speaking up and speaking out, Omsom became the pioneer of proud and loud Asian brands, breaking the stereotype that Asian people are quiet and submissive. 

The brand quickly gained a following because of its brand story, design, and products, resulting in a growing community of supporters. Despite only launching DTC in May 2020, the brand expanded into retail shelves within just two years.

Now, Omsom is launching into a new category with Omsom Saucy Noodles, premium, luxe knife-shaved noodles that are made in less than 5 minutes and topped with an Omsom Saucy Noodle Sauce. Sauces include Chinese Chili Sesame, Chinese Soy Garlic, Vietnamese Garlic Black Pepper, and Thai Coconut Lemongrass Curry. 

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In-The-Know Millennial Foodies

As Omsom's design target audience, this group is spreading food culture. To them, Omsom is their "Asian flavor trainer." They're purchasing Omsom for palette exploration, convenience, and accessibility (of Asian flavors). 

When looking at their perception of instant noodles, this audience sees noodles as a convenience food, not Asian cuisine, and are all the same

95% of survey respondents who do eat noodles eat them when they're in a hurry.

Quantitative Survey

98% of survey respondents said "no" they do not consider "instant noodles" to be equivalent to an Asian meal.

Quantitative Survey

Instant noodles are historically seen as a “value” buy with little nutritional value.

People are used to eating noodles when...

  • They were in college and couldn’t afford meals.

  • There’s nothing left to eat.

  • They’re tired and don’t feel like cooking.

Because of their experiences and perceptions of “instant noodles,” they struggle to see the significance of another noodle brand. 

Instant noodles are associated with times when they didn’t have money and neglected their health. 

Tension 

The societal expectation is that Asian food is cheap and lacks quality yet simultaneously has complex and bold flavors.

Despite the ingredients and time put into cooking Asian dishes, as well as the adoration of various cuisines, people are shocked to see when an Asian meal has a "high" price point. An example of this can be seen when ordering phò from a Vietnamese restaurant. 

Insight

When people are looking for a high-quality, elevated meal, they’re not making or ordering Asian food, they’re probably having a Western meal.

Opportunity

Show this audience that quick-prep noodles are more than just a convenience buy; they can be premium too.

Strategy

Show the value shift of noodles by reclaiming instant noodles and celebrating Omsom Saucy Noodles as the shortcut to a graduated, elevated adult meal with premium Asian flavors -- turning you into your next best chef. 

This audience is eager but needs ways in. 

They're looking for:

  • Shortcuts to being a home chef with products taking away tedious tasks

  • Ways to engage with brands that reflect them 

  • Easy and approachable ways to expand their palette 

People like to be creative with their noodles. 

To many, "dressing up" noodles makes it an Asian dish. They're adding vegetables and protein to round out their meal. 

The various packet ingredients are being repurposed to create new and different meals, such as stir-fries.

A lot of this culture stems from TikTok "hacks" and trends. With hundreds of millions of views on the various "ramen hack" hashtags, people are using TikTok to find ways to spice up their noodle meals. 

How can Omsom win this audience over? 

To be successful, Omsom needs to: 

  •  Find new and engaging methods to distinguish Omsom from the crowd

  • Revolutionize the customer journey

  • Encourage personal exploration

  • Reimagine the concept of expertise and authority

Omsom can show this audience exciting, new, and classic ways to eat Omsom Saucy Noodles, rounding out their meal and experience.

Omsom Saucy Noodles are the elevated meal that noodles are and always have been. Now, it's just accessible, quick, and easy to cook. 

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Through various tactics across the funnel, Omsom can take this audience from noodle novices to brand loyalists.

Social Media

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Omsom can use both organic and paid social media posts to promote Omsom Saucy Noodles. Organic posts include channels like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and paid social includes the previous channels plus Pinterest and YouTube.

 

By creating high-quality content and effective product marketing, this audience will be reminded that Omsom Saucy Noodles are the best choice for anyone looking for a premium, delicious noodle brand to elevate their meals.

Podcast Ads

By tapping into popular podcasts, Omsom can introduce its brand and Omsom Saucy Noodles to new audiences. 

Out-of-Home Ads

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Wheatpaste posters placed in major cities with Whole Foods Market locations. 

In-Store Demos

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Hold in-store taste testings at Whole Foods Markets to showcase Omsom Saucy Noodles with branded promotional materials. 

Merch

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Continue pushing fun merchandise to create loyalty with current consumers and raise awareness with new consumers.

Brand Partnership with Chunks

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Partner with a brand like Chunks, another female-Asian-owned brand, to reach new audiences.

Brand Partnership with Butcher Box

Partner with a brand like Butcher Box, another company that delivers high-quality flavors, to reach new audiences and continue to elevate meals.

Digital Experience

Create an app that further enhances the Omsom community, pioneering as the only Asian-food-based app in the market.

Brand Partnership with Ace Hotel

Partner with recently acquired luxury lifestyle hotel brand Ace Hotel to further elevate the Asian cuisine experience. Opportunities include a lounge and bar menu at a new Ace Hotel or an Ace Hotel Pop-Up at a current location, such as the Brooklyn location. 

Takeaway

This strategic rationale and thought-starters:

  • Connects with both of Omsom's target audiences and beyond 

  • Touches current and potential consumers at all levels of the funnel 

  • Evolves the Omsom brand as it grows competitively and with consumers 

  • Furthers Omsom's purpose and mission, continuing to be an entry point for Asian flavors

To many cultures, noodles are and always have been an elevated meal. With Omsom Saucy Noodles, we're bringing this perspective to new audiences in ways that are engaging and easy to follow while still uplifting the stories and flavors of Asian communities. 

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