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Aromatherapy brand spreads wings


Support from the HKTDC’s T-box programme helps healing scent maker expand its footprint.


Marketing to eyes and ears is relatively easy – you can send sounds and images around the world in an instant.

Marketing to the nose is more challenging and selling to clients who could not physically walk into a store and smell the treatments on offer was the challenge confronting Kat Lai, Founder of DK-Asia, DK Aromatherapy by KAT LAI.

Branding and experiential marketing through events such as workshops are essential for DK-Asia. The firm’s unique products also require IP protection.

DK-Asia turned to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s (HKTDC) Transformation Sandbox SME support service for advice on branding and IP, as well as help expanding into new markets.

T-box, along with other HKTDC programmes, connected DK-Asia with the Federation of Hong Kong Industries (FHKI) for a free IP consultation, which gave practical insight into IP laws as well as legal advice on trademark. FHKI also advised on patent registration for a line of aromatherapy products distributed in capsules.

Using the advice, KAT LAI has since registered its trademarks and submitted the patent application.

T-box helped the firm showcase and introduce its brand to a wider audience, both locally and internationally. T-box referred them to the Product Showcase at the HKTDC-organised Lifestyle Mezzanine in ASEAN in Malaysia in 2022, for example.

“The exposure and networking opportunities provided by T-box have greatly contributed to increasing awareness of our experiential product and establishing a strong brand presence in the market,” she said.

E-commerce and increasing the number of physical retail outlets have rapidly grown the brand’s market, and T-box introduced DK-Asia to the HKTDC’s Design Gallery consignment service in Hong Kong.

“This step helped us in building brand awareness. Additionally, they linked us to JD International’s cross-border e-commerce solution, opening up opportunities for us in the Mainland China market,” Ms Lai said.

DK-Asia has identified the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, ASEAN and India as key markets for expansion.

They joined seminars and events organised by T-box focused on these markets, allowing the firm to gain relevant insights and connect with key stakeholders.

One of these connections was with the Consulate General of India last October, to explore the Indian market for their high-end aromatherapy projects.

“Considering the vastness of the Indian market and the abundance of high-end hotels, this event has established a network for us, which will help the future development of the brand. These connections are especially important for small and medium-sized enterprises.”

DK-Asia is also exploring using workshops to establish itself in remote markets. Workshops and physical presence have been effective in expanding sales, but the firm recognised the challenges of establishing a presence in remote markets.

The goal is to find innovative approaches, such as leveraging technology, local partnerships or virtual platforms, to overcome the barriers of physical presence and effectively reach customers in remote markets.

DK Asia plans to draw on traditional Chinese medicine, when developing new product lines.

T-box had helped them establish valuable connections and navigate the unique challenges of expanding into new regions successfully.

The firm is now working on a new aromatherapy project with hotels in the region, and targets to launch the range at the end of this year.

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