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Vietnamese ceramics boast world-level craftsmanship

Released at: 13:39, 06/09/2019

Vietnamese ceramics boast world-level craftsmanship

Photo: Minh Long I

Local branding expert Mr. Vo Van Quang tells VET how Vietnamese porcelain enterprises have built their brands in the domestic market as well as expanded overseas.

by Huyen Thanh

Mr. Vo Van Quang

How would you comment on the position of Vietnamese enterprises in the local ceramics industry?

The majority of enterprises focused on exporting to major countries and then returned to the domestic market to build their brands. The local market has substantial potential, taking account of the food and beverage tourism and local household consumers. The US - China trade war has made Chinese ceramic homewares a more sensitive issue among local consumers. Vietnamese ceramics have been well received around the world for a thousand years. Hai Duong and Minh Long I are among the key players and have focused on both exports and the local market, competing against Taiwanese brands at home.

What do you think about the huge investments made in promoting product quality in Vietnam?

Minh Long I has been an outstanding phenomenon, and CEO Ly Ngoc Minh is truly a perfectionist. He has combined ultimate production skills with a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture, as well as knowing how people attain a high-profile life with ceramics, by creating high-end chopsticks and convenient tea pot sets. Mr. Minh has brought about a new level of enjoyment of traditional culture in modern living. Having known JiangXi ceramics for years, with high-end “see-thru” tea cups or well decorated, complex high temperature treated products, Mr. Minh and others have also become sophisticated ceramic makers and stand at the same world level of craftsmanship.

Applying technology in production lines as well as innovating products is how Minh Long created a quality standard for their products. Is this a path that others should follow? Why?

Yes, they should follow Mr. Minh’s philosophy of skillfulness and perfectionism. However, from a marketing point of view, we would advise new players to follow but not copy. They can follow Mr. Minh’s advanced production lines but should not copy the creative element, instead creating new products or new ways of decorating products. Though also bearing the same Vietnamese cultural characteristics, they could apply new techniques or new artistic languages, from design to decoration and even new color formulations and curing processes.

Minh Long has been a well-known brand in the market and targets the high-end segment, while others, like Cuong Phat and Chu Dau Ceramics, have gradually built their brands for the low to medium-end segment. What challenges do you see for brands trying to affirm their position among local consumers?

With Cuong Phat and Chu Dau, they know their own level of technology, which may not be up to Minh Long’s level. But they also know how to use the skills available in their own production lines. They may not be able to follow Minh Long’s high-end know-how, but they can go different ways, such as art-by-item, taking advantage of non-uniformity in making unique products and unique pieces of art and being more creative in making products at low output. The boundaries for creating new things are wide open for all new players, and I personally foresee that the world market still has space for them all. For hundreds of years, people only thought of China for ‘china’, or porcelain, but they may not know that thousands of years ago ancient Vietnamese people were as highly-skilled as the Chinese. In the time of Chu Dau ceramics, many items were globally-recognized but many items and skills were lost and need to be recovered. 

How will marketing strategies play a role in helping local brands approach and understand customer demand?

A real marketing strategy has two key directions. First, marketing is looking at market trends, both new and old, and even ancient values. Second, marketing should combine value chains with technological advancement to create innovation. We understand how marketing can combine with high-technology to form processes that inherit old skills to create new fashionable items. Making ancient arts must pass on a contemporary message to the world and new consumers.

  • Plastic is being replaced by porcelain, which can be seen all around us, for example in household items and toiletries. I have seen items such as ceramic shampoo and hand wash containers at high-end cafés and hotels. Many plastic bottles are now being replaced by durable ceramic and re-usable containers.
  • Big companies like Minh Long can open many new markets around the world, with billions of consumers. As a lover of New York, I haven’t seen any of the beautiful products of Minh Long (or Chu Dau) in the city yet, but that is a market they could approach.
  • For hundreds of years, mainstream English tea serving wares have endorsed an English style and a China style in porcelain items, but not a Vietnamese style as yet. And this, again, is a major market.

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