NUS BBA 14 May 2015

“Think Sushi, Think Sakae:” Students Delve Into Sakae’s Recipe for Success

Sushi on conveyor belts. Customised menu apps on iPads to place orders. Efficient and speedy customer service. And a healthy quality food experience. These are some of the reasons why Singapore-based fast-food chain Sakae Sushi stands out as one of the top brands in the Food & Beverage industry today. Since its first store opened in 1997, the trendy restaurant that serves Japanese food has grown its regional presence, with 35 outlets in Singapore as well as outlets in China and Malaysia.

Sakae Sushi NUS Project

First year undergraduates of MKT1003 Marketing module were recently tasked to delve deeper into the brand’s marketing strategy, by conducting market research for two Sakae Sushi outlets – Sakae Sushi Scape and Sakae Sushi Ngee Ann Polytechnic. What are some creative ways for such an established brand to attract millennials to two of its outlets frequented mostly by youth? How can it better market and promote its products to a younger demographic, with a bottom-line benefit as well? Students got a chance to tackle these challenges for a class project sponsored by Sakae Sushi and present to its management team.

Management team of Sakae Sushi judging the presentations

And the teams did not disappoint. From creative and bold social media campaigns (“a ninja challenge”, a polaroid “wall of fame”), to new product innovations (“make your own protein-based Kurin Bento Box”),and sales tactics (campus delivery, QR codes) five teams proposed solutions through innovative marketing campaigns. The judges, which included Chief Executive Officer of Sakae Holdings Ltd, Ms Lilian Foo, Sales and Marketing Manager Ms Valerie Ong and Human Resources Executive Jazmine Oh, were impressed with the results.

Dept Camera Pics 102

“The quality of presentation by students was fantastic and very impressive; especially given the fact that as first-year students, this is their first marketing module. We do a lot of research at Sakae and in fact, a lot of the suggestions by students are what we’ve discussed in our internal meetings. But what I take away and admire from the presentations was the distinct spirit NUS Business School students demonstrate – resilience, teamwork and camaraderie.  This is what every youth today ought to have,” says Ms Ong, who planned the project and questioned each team about their recommendations.

“We work with a lot of educational institutions since students are often our customers too.  They are in tune with the various needs and ways to reach our target customers. Which is why I found today’s presentations excellent – it offered us some great insights into Gen Y and Gen Z. The calibre of students who presented and the quality of their presentations were very impressive and surpassed our expectations,” agrees Ms Foo . “It was really tough to select the winners, as all the students were winners in their own right.”


In addition to impressing the judges, students from two winning teams were also awarded internships at Sakae Sushi. This would give them an opportunity to not only learn from the best, but to also apply what they learn in real life.

“Such case competitions give students a semblance of how marketing works. Going beyond the classroom teaching and getting students to go on to the ground and practice what they’ve learnt in the classroom provides a more balanced approach to learning. Internships, such as the one offered by Sakae Sushi, help the company to identify talent, and for students to put their knowledge to practice,” says Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon, who teaches the class and organises similar case competitions almost every year.

Sakae Sushi Internships

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