We introduced a completely new oil concept in a crowded market by positioning a heritage natural oil as a modern must-have cooking ingredient for the west.
Tea seed oil has been cultivated, produced, and used in Asia for centuries. Rich in antioxidants, packed with healthy fats and zero trans-fats, it is known as ‘olive oil of the East’; however, unlike olive oil, it is virtually unknown in the West despite the widespread popularity of Asian food. We saw tea seed oil as an untapped product proposition, with the opportunity to create a culturally relevant and modern brand that would help shift perceptions of Asian cuisine away from the stereotype of being ‘unhealthy’, ‘dirty’ or ‘fast food’.
The difficulty lay in the competition. In a hugely cluttered market with hundreds of product SKUs, let alone brands, how can a relatively unknown product like tea seed oil enter the American market and create a unique positioning?
In the past 5 to 10 years there has been a steady growing consumer interest in asian food, particularly amongst millennials and Gen Z in America. Recently, with restaurant closures and restrictions in place due to the pandemic, people are increasingly looking to recreate their favourite Asian restaurant experience in the comfort and safety of their own home. Cooking has moved from being simply about feeding oneself to becoming more of a hobby that people are willing to invest time and money in — often by buying the products that enable them to get inspired and cook more adventurously.
As modern amateur cooks become increasingly aware of cultural appropriation in the kitchen, there is also a growing desire to use authentic ingredients from the region, which in theory also elevates the flavour (a concept known in French cooking as ‘terroir’). Eating and cooking ‘better’ used to mean ‘healthier’, and while the latter still matters, ‘better’ is now about cultural knowledge and sophistication as well. With this, and leveraging the oil’s properties of being a high-heat cooking oil, we found a unique positioning for the brand to present tea seed oil as ‘the oil to elevate everyday Asian cooking’.
We knew that the barrier would be too high if we tried to compete with olive oil as a healthier alternative (when in reality, tea seed oil can be used in place of olive oil). In positioning it as the only oil people should consider when cooking asian food, whether it is stir fry, or dumplings, or Korean fried chicken, we positioned YóuYóu to build the association of tea seed oil as consumers’ go-to oil for any Asian cuisine.
Market sizing & research
Venture position building
Brand Identity Design
Packaging & Prototyping
Content Strategy & Direction
Cooking oil is one of the less exciting and perceived as an insignificant ingredient for many home cooks, but it is the foundation of flavour building. Being the first thing you put on the pan or wok, we want to give it the attention it deserves.
Tea seed oil is packed with health benefits, interesting characteristics, and cultural history. We designed a business positioned to be the Asian cooking oil, just like olive oil for Italian cuisine. We want to inspire people to cook better Asian food through a humble ingredient.