The Journey of Metamorphosis Orchestrates a Symphony of Taste and Health
Specialised in hand-made cookies and palmier since 2008, Cookies Quartet has created over 50 flavours, offering seasonal flavours in accordance to different Chinese solar terms. Charlene Tse, one of the founders of the bakery brand, pays special attention to healthy eating tips that correspond with various nature’s patterns, so they can bring out the best ingredients and provide the best care to consumers’ health at different times of the year. “As we enter into Fall/Winter season, we will offer health cookies with ginger and red dates which will help warm the stomach and body. Earlier during Spring/Summer season, we had Sakura-flavoured cookies that brought a refreshing and delicious taste to consumers, immersing them into the atmosphere of Spring.”
The Symphony of Taste and Health
Apart from preparing healthy food at different seasons, Cookies Quartet also selects ingredients with the best quality. “Though margarine is a cheaper hence common choice for making cookies, we insist on using natural butter despite its higher cost, as this brings a richer aroma to our cookies and relatively a healthier choice.” In addition, the brand also uses organic whole wheat flour from the US, with less sugar, so the cookies are less sweet and less greasy. Charlene says, “My mother-in-law is my biggest fan, she eats a pack of our palmier or cookies every day.”
Healthy diet is moving up the consumer agenda, but actually Cookies Quartet has made cookies that are suitable for babies, infants or even diabetic patients in their early days of operation. “My mother was suffering from serious diabetes, therefore instead of white sugar, I used coconut flower sugar and trehalase which have lower glycemic index, so even diabetes patients like her can try my cookies.” Charlene also pays huge attention to the quality of food production. As the production of palmier involves a lot of manual labour and workmanship, random check on samples are conducted regularly to ensure the quality.
Cookies Quartet is named with the emphasis of the four elements - “Color, Scent, Taste and Health”, Charlene explains, “Everybody in my family plays piano, the symphony of the four elements can best represent my beliefs and experience.”
“Taste Before you Buy” Composes the Splendid Quartet
At the time when they opened the first store in Kowloon City, they had already offered shoppers with free tasting, and they are still doing the same. “Our store is close to a lot of schools in the area, therefore a lot of parents and students would come visit and try out the new flavours. We are grateful to see their smiling faces, as this proved the success of our tactic. We were the first cookie company to offer free food tasting way back in 2008.”
As time goes by, Cookies Quartet now nurtures little chefs and storekeepers with cookies making classes, and offers membership scheme for loyal customers. The quality products and excellent consumer care offered by the company perfectly matches with the objective of GS1 Hong Kong’s “Consumer Caring Scheme” – a Scheme recognising local rganisations that demonstrate excellence in consumer care by creating consumer value, with the ultimate goal of uplifting product and service quality of industries.
The Local Souvenir Goes Global
It usually takes long-term brand building and a great deal of rave reviews for a product to become a signature souvenir for travellers. With minimal marketing budget throughout the 10 years, Cookies Quartet has successfully built a market presence simply using media interviews and word-of-mouth referrals, attracting local connoisseur and tourists from Japan, Taiwan, Mainland China and Korea to purchase as souvenirs. The brand has also opened a store at the Hong Kong International Airport to meet such demand. Cookies Quartet has garnered an even split between local and foreign customers in terms of sales volume, and has entered the Canada and Taiwan markets through distributors. Charlene learnt the importance of the globally recognised GS1 barcodes during her journey in expanding to overseas markets, as barcodes can help share real-time product information with overseas sellers. Noticing that her products are sold by third-party on the e-marketplaces in China, she is considering expansion to China online markets with the help of barcodes.
The brand is currently applying for Halal certification, so they can enter the Muslim market. The certification is very strict to assure products are in compliance to the procedure defined by Islamic Law – without pork and meat of carnivores, and has to be processed and cooked according to Islamic law.
Treat Customers Like Family
Throughout the interview, Charlene shared a number of anecdotes about her family, which were in fact the reason why she set up her business. “We moved to a foreign country after getting married, but my family missed the food of Hong Kong so I started cooking for them using the freshest organic ingredients. After divorce, I used my cooking skills to set up my own business, together with my most original intention and principle ‘cooking for family’.” Staying true to herself, Charlene believes the brand will only thrive and become a legacy if she dedicates the time and effort in perfecting the one thing that she knows best.