The CEO of King Coffee used market penetration strategies in a special way in order for the Vietnamese coffee brand to gain its presence in over 60 countries and territories.

From the position of “second-in-command” in the back office of Trung Nguyen coffee group, Madame Le Hoang Diep Thao became the President of TNI Corporation with the King Coffee brand exporting all over the world. In her New Year talk with VnExpress, she shared her passionate story of over 20 years with the Vietnamese coffee brand for the first time.

The connection with coffee from an early age

Born in Pleiku, the capital of coffee, Madame Le Hoang Diep Thao soon recognized that coffee may benefit the mountain town. Particularly, when working at the 1080 call center, the Post Office in Gia Lai Province, she had more of a chance to better understand the coffee industry.

“At that time, 1080 was just like Google now, people with any question called to consult us. During my five years working there, 80% of calls were asking about coffee. So I was forced to become a coffee industry expert, especially international pricing, to provide answers for everyone’s questions,” she said.

Realizing the potential development opportunities of the coffee industry in the context of Vietnam’s open economy policy in 1996, Madame Le Hoang Diep Thao and Mr. Dang Le Nguyen Vu founded the Trung Nguyen brand. The co-founders believed that suitable soil and weather conditions, abundant rural areas, the capacity and knowledge of farmers, and the passion of industry leaders would make the Trung Nguyen brand successful.

That confidence would be evidenced later by the continuous achievements of Trung Nguyen coffee group with the G7 brand in Vietnam and international markets. G7 became the number one coffee brand in the market, while the Group has 6 plants and coffee franchises spread across the country and the world.

Madame Le Hoang Diep Thao - CEO of TNI Corporation felt really excited about the New Year talk and her coffee story with VnExpress.


Paving a global path for Vietnamese coffee

In 2008, the world went into an economic crisis which caused many difficulties for coffee development in Vietnam. Trung Nguyen tried its luck in opening a new way by establishing a coffee export company in a foreign country.

“Since the beginning of 2008, I have attended over 200 coffee forums, seminars and fairs around the world. At first, few people knew about Vietnam coffee, and they even asked me whether Vietnam was still in the war or not,” the co-founder of Trung Nguyen recalled about her first days of exporting coffee.

By establishing the Singapore-based Trung Nguyen International in 2008, Madame Le Hoang Diep Thao continued to introduce the G7 and Trung Nguyen coffee brands to more than 60 countries and territories in order to affirm the taste, quality and scope of the Vietnamese coffee industry.

The popularity of Vietnamese coffee gradually spread and left the “second-in-command” of the coffee industry a beautiful memory. Madame Thao said someone cried when they saw a Vietnamese coffee brand in Terminal 1 at Changi International Airport (Singapore). They did not think that Vietnamese people could open a store in such a luxurious and first class space.

By establishing the King Coffee brand, Madame Thao made “the second startup” and continued to improve the Vietnam coffee brand’s status in the international market.

Launched in the United States market in October 2016, TNI King Coffee products were warmly welcomed by customers there. The interest of King Coffee brand has spread rapidly from overseas Vietnamese to native people. After that, the coffee brand rapidly gained a presence in many countries such as China, Russia, Korea, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Thailand.

Market-specific strategies

The CEO of TNI Corporation affirmed that there was no shared strategy for all markets. To bring the King Coffee brand to every country and territory, Madame Le Hoang Diep Thao set out a specific, different and trend-focused strategy that satisfied the coffee taste and demand in each local area.

"Think globally, act locally is our slogan across the company, from myself to all team members, everyone must be an expert in coffee and can carry out differentiated strategies for each market,” the businesswoman shared.

Madame Le Hoang Diep Thao excitedly recalled the 20-year journey of her enthusiasm in the coffee industry and her unforgettable memories.

For example, in the United States – the most demanding market in the world, Madame Thao laid the foundation for the King Coffee brand there by reaching out to the overseas Vietnamese community, bringing the brand onto famous music shows in the United States to attract customers, carrying out many testing programs, and putting coffee products into large supermarket systems. As a result, King Coffee brand gained a presence in the 19 states in the U.S. with the largest Vietnamese communities.

The coffee brand has had its branch in China, the world's most populated country, since 2017 by taking advantage of e-commerce’s strong growth there. The company carried out several promotional

In addition, in other markets such as Korea, Singapore, India, Russia, European countries, etc., Madame Thao used differentiated development strategies to meet the demand and find the way to elevate King Coffee’s status in particular and Vietnamese coffee in general.


The differentiated strategies also shown in promotion method in each product family. For example, in European countries such as Italy, France, the Netherlands, etc., drinkers prefered cappuccino, latte, mocha, but and fast-living lifestyle in the United States and Korea makes people drink such coffee types as espresso, americano, etc.

To develop a right strategy, Madame Thao said she has been attended more than 200 seminars, and forums all over the world. This was an opportunity help her to access the best coffee type and the most powerful brands in each market, from which, she learned the know-how and penetration method for markets that considered as “crowded with competitors”.

The passion of her childhood also motivated the businesswoman to penetrate deeper into the lives of the majority of people, learning their preferences from markets, roads and alleys, etc.

“I always collect coffee tools, coffee making secrets in anywhere I have been through. My baggage is always full of all things related to the coffee industry and work”, Madame Thao recalled her 20-year habits of a coffee enthusiast.

2019 remarked significant growth of the King Coffee brand as they aims to open 1000 coffee shops across Vietnam and continue to conquer major markets around the world.