Executive Interview
Michael Kwan
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   Executive Interviews   
An Interview with
Michael Kwan
Maxx Group
Chief Executive Officer

Established in 1997, Maxx Group has 3 businesses, the combined services offer end-to-end brand marketing and merchandising solutions to some of the world’s most recognizable brands, Licensing Matters Global, YuMe, and Maxx Marketing, with a global footprint in North and South America, EMEA, and APAC.

Publish Date: 
19 August 2021
Hong Kong
Location:

Tell us about your background, and how you came to found your company?

I started in 1986 as a finance clerk at Simon Marketing HQ Los Angeles, the agency responsible for the creation, implementation, and massive success of McDonald’s Happy Meal and Monopoly campaigns. Over 10 years at Simon, I worked up the ranks within the departments of Finance, Operations, and Sales & Marketing. In 1996, I was recruited by a leading international marketing agency headquartered in Hong Kong, the agency was well-known throughout APAC, especially for their in-house manufacturing facilities. I was intrigued by the prospect of working in China, the emerging epicenter of manufacturing and innovation. Up to that point, my exposure to product manufacturing was limited having built my experience on the ground in the USA. With my wife’s encouragement and her desire to relocate back to Hong Kong to be closer to her family, I accepted the job. While having hands-on knowledge of China’s manufacturing industry and supply chain experience was invaluable, I became disillusioned by the single-dimensional nature of a manufacturing-focused marketing agency contrary to the consumer-centric marketing model that I was trained in. Within a year, I quit. Shortly after, I started Maxx Marketing. Maxx was established in 1997 with headquarters in Hong Kong. Around 2001, we were approached and ultimately acquired by UK based, public company, WPP Group PLC, a world-renowned marketing communications group company. In 2018, I regained controlling shares of Maxx through a management buy-out.

What is most important to you and your organization – mission, vision, or core values? Why?

It is our core belief that we exist because of our customers, we see ourselves as brand stewards and our approach is rooted in a customer-centric philosophy. Our passionate team of creative and strategic practitioners has what it takes to create captivating brand experiences that connect with the consumer through innovative, fun, and memorable products while delivering profitable business for our brand clients.

Can you explain briefly how your service(s)/product(s) works?

Maxx Group offers fully integrated services through three core businesses:


Licensing Matters Global

Provides inbound and outbound licensing consultancy services across multiple markets and industries.

Creates partnership alliances in sports and entertainment with corporate and retail brands, generates incremental and new revenue streams through brand extensions, new markets, and distribution channels. Clients include Tasty, Shell, ESA, Buzzfeed, Harvard, Yale.


YuMe

An award-winning consumer brand with a catalog of over 300 SKUs targeting the children and family sector. YuMe creates, develops and mass distributes thoughtful and innovative consumer-centric licensed merchandise leveraging popular entertainment brands, including Harry Potter, Batman, My Little Pony. Retailer partners include Walmart, Target, Barnes & Nobles, Tesco-UK, Aldi-Germany, and Amazon to over 60 countries and 200,000 stores worldwide.


Maxx Marketing

Creates global scaled marketing programs to promote consumer engagement through innovative and memorable products. Maxx has successfully delivered over a billion promotional products and executed global scale campaigns to over 100 countries for clients including Kellogg’s, Coca Cola, Nestle, HSBC, Shell Oil, Dannon, Huawei, KFC, and others.

How has the industry been changing in recent years?

Multinational consumer products companies have been engaged in decoupling supply chains strategy since 2006. This focus on short term benefits through cost-cutting measures on all aspects of agency compensation forced professional service providers to undercut and lower quality output to compete. Rather than cut costs, Maxx implemented technology applications into all aspects of our company processes, reduced redundancy, and increased speed-to-market up to 6 months. We also bundled all 3 core businesses under one roof, realigned the global structure to speed up decision cycles and brand assurance lead time, cross-trained our people, integrated digital marketing strategy to our creative, strengthened in-house capabilities, and streamlined supply chain. The experience not only resulted in substantial cost savings internally but more importantly transformed our company to become more agile, efficient, and multi-dimensional.

What makes you different from what’s currently available in the market?

Maxx is a leader in the industry it operates, and known for its diverse capabilities. The key advantage over our competitors is our unique expertise and successful track record in delivering fully integrated services.  As a multi-dimensional organization, we have over 23 years of experience working across markets, regional and global for multinationals, and we have deep category experience across multiple industries. We have consistently delivered on promise and generated significant and profitable results for the brands we represent.

What does the future hold for your company?

Being privately owned gives us the flexibility to form meaningful partnerships and alliances to build upon our success. As a small-size company operating globally, for long-term growth, we welcome matching with companies that can benefit from our brand marketing and consumer products expertise, such as entertainment content platforms and other content providers who look to extend their brands beyond digital to tangible products to further enhance the consumer experience while creating new revenue streams.

Contact

Michael Kwan

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