Well-respected Thai firm rebranding using celebrities and social media campaigns to tap youth and show how holistic medicines can trump Western medicine
- By Jaream Samruat -
A picture of actress Natapohn “Taew” Tameeruks promoting the herbal medicine Fah Talai Jone — which contains natural anti-inflammatory antipyretic used to reduce fever, flu and treat infections — highlights the recent rebranding of Ouayun Osoth.
The Thai brand, a leading manufacturer of traditional medicine, will enter its 72nd year in business in 2019.
The actress’s popularity is being used to help the company gain access to the hearts, purses and e-wallets of millennials who are still not very familiar with its Oriental-sounding name.
This reflects some of the efforts now being made by the third generation leadership of the brand as its executives work tirelessly to refresh its image and appeal to younger generations and overseas markets, said company owner Sitthichai Sombunwetchakan.
He is now watching his successor modernise the decades-old business, just as his forefathers did before him.
Ouayun Osoth Co picked Taew as a presenter for its two key products — Fah Talai Jone, which is the Thai name for the medicinal tropical plant, and is also considered a popular remedy for sore throats in Thailand; and Bai Makham Khaek, or senna leaves, which also come in capsule form and is claimed to help people suffering from constipation.
Making these traditional medicines more well-known and keeping their quality in line with internationally acceptable standards are two issues that the company takes very seriously from generation to generation, Mr Sitthichai said.
He recalled the business lessons passed down to him by his father and said these have been the company’s core values since it was established in 1947.
Ouayun Osoth must “make quality medicines at affordable prices and not take advantage of customers,” he said.
His father, Sathian, a traditional doctor, first opened a family-run drugstore in 1947. Located near Memorial Bridge on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River, Ouayun Osoth soon made itself known among customers seeking alternative or “holistic” medicines.
In 1986, Mr Sitthichai succeeded his father. It was during this time that Ouayun Osoth went through many major changes that enabled it to grow further in the traditional medicine industry.
Nine years after he took over its management, Mr Sitthichai changed the small pharmacy into a company and relocated its office to Bang Kae.
He built a factory and used new technologies to reformat and repackage traditional medicines in more easy-to-take and Western-friendly capsule forms.
In 2015 the factory was granted the good manufacturing process (GMP) standard for medicinal products by the Food and Drug Administration.
This helped improve public recognition of the company and its products, sending sales and revenue to the next level.
However, the company said it will continue to develop as it strides confidently into the digital age.
“This is an age when things are changing very quickly,” Mr Sitthichai said, adding that Ouayun Osoth must constantly evolve to keep pace with new trends and forms of customer behaviour.
As the company’s third-generation management, Ouayun Osoth is not willing to just let it rest on its laurels.
Instead he is making efforts to ramp up the company’s popularity on social media and networking sites including Facebook, Instagram and the messaging app Line.
Many customers are also now able to buy the company’s products online.
One of the current goals is to show people that the brand is reliable, effective and backed by a company with a strong sense of integrity and commitment to getting results, Mr Sitthichai said.
It is these changes that will drive the company forward amid heightened competition and the challenges and opportunities a fully digital society brings, he added.