By Michael Ang
He was one of Malaysia’s most sought after marketing leaders on the Information, Communications and Technology scene, helming various campaigns during his time at IBM, Oracle and Microsoft.
Courts Mammoth Berhad headhunted him and, during his tenure as its Country Director, he successfully turned around the electronics and furniture retail giant’s domestic operations in less than three years.
This enabled new shareholders to buy over and privatise the company.
To professionals in Malaysia’s ICT and retail industries, the name Chris ‘Rolling Thunder’ Yong is indeed a very familiar one. (‘Rolling Thunder’ is a marketing term for continuous product/services momentum.)
Yong’s latest venture, however, could come as a surprise to admirers who have tracked his career. He has taken a leap of faith into the world of vanity – skincare for women (and I suppose men, too, although we would never admit to this…) – by launching his own Neesya brand earlier this month.
So what prompted Yong to move from helming MNCs’ and leading top marketing teams to being an entrepreneur in his own right? At the launch of Neesya Skincare’s first outlet in Subang Parade, the youthful-looking Yong told Business Circle that, after 21 years in the corporate world, he wanted to do something different that would take him to the next level of self-achievement.
“After much introspection, it became clear that the answer was going to be something outside a corporate career. Being an entrepreneur, building a new brand from scratch, really excited me to the core,” he said, adding that “inner fulfillment comes from making customers happy and partners successful.”
“Skincare is indeed new to me – very new to me. But marketing and branding wasn’t! Retail marketing is something that I am passionate about – business to consumer marketing – and skincare was exactly that,” Yong elaborated, sharing that this is also an industry with healthy margins.
The market is estimated at RM1.5 billion yearly in Malaysia alone.
“Being a relatively young and developing country, Malaysia’s masses are spending exponentially more in skincare today,” he further said. “Our aim is to make premium skincare products affordable to Malaysian women from all walks of life.”
“What’s more, every single Neesya beauty product is 100% halal.”
The promise of “skin that shines from within in just 14 days”
As Yong walked Business Circle through the product demonstration at the media launch, he assured us that – regardless of skin type, age or lifestyle – users would have “skin that shines from within” in just 14 days.
He enlightened us that a lot of research and product development has gone into product development; the ‘secret ingredient’ is what he terms “LumiScience° TM Techology” which helps in “brightening, protecting and renewing skin to give it a ‘diamond-like shine’ within a fortnight.”
“LumiScience° TM Techology employs a 360° approach to achieve remarkable skin clarity and radiance. This technology combines the in-depth understanding of skin physiology and radiance factors with the most advanced brightening, hydrating, anti-oxidative actives ingredients,” he elaborated.
“This skin translucence active is scientifically proven to prevent the oxidation and degeneration of the topmost layer of the epidermis (stratum corneum) to the enhancement of the skin’s transparent appearance,” said Yong, apologizing for the scientific jargon (although Neesya’s tagline is “the science of beauty”!)
Providing affordable skincare products throughout Malaysia and beyond
When asked by Business Circle to elaborate on his retail strategy, Yong explained that his business channel strategy is a straightforward one – going direct to consumers without spending unnecessarily on marketing and advertising costs, and thereby passing on savings to consumers.
“This is why our beauty products, without compromising on quality, only cost a fraction of the prices that counter brands command,” said Yong (prices range from RM29 to RM79).
Starting up a Neesya outlet is straightforward: working capital of about RM100,000 (inclusive of RM50,000 licensing fees), with Skinworkz Sdn Bhd (which owns the Neesya brand) providing all the necessary support to agents.
Speaking from experience, he shared with us on how this strategy caters for professionals looking to move out of the corporate world to own their own businesses.
“As I shared my vision with the many people I networked with, I discovered that there are many corporate career folks who secretly harbour ambitions of being their own bosses. However, most of them are hesitant of making such a move – either because they did not know how, or thought they didn’t have the funds to do so. That is why we deliberately kept the start-up fees relatively low at RM100,000 for aspiring agents.”
Yong finds inner fulfillment in helping other discover their full potential: “Throughout the course of my corporate career, one of the things I spent a lot of time doing as a senior executive in multinational companies was coaching and counselling colleagues on their careers. And I continue to do this today as an entrepreneur for all my valued agents and partners.”
“No dream too small, never too big a dream. As I planned for my transition from a corporate career to entrepreneurship, I talked to a lot of people – friends, family, business contacts – and I became amazed at the number of people who share my dream of starting something on their own.
“Many simply do not know how to start thinking about it or are just too worried to take action. I dreamed. I planned. And now I am executing – and I hope to bring like-minded people with me on a fulfilling journey.”
“I believe that a key measurement of my success will be in making others successful. And that’s one of the key foundation blocks of the Neesya growth plan,” he said.
Disclaimer: Michael Ang is a seasoned public relations practitioner and spent the last two decades at Microsoft Asia-Pacific, IBM Malaysia and Multi-Purpose Holdings Berhad. He worked with Yong while at Microsoft and IBM.