Spreading the Word

23 November 2015

Pic Picot / Founder of Pic’s Peanut Butter / New Zealand

Consumers are becoming more discerning about what’s in their food and, unsurprisingly, demand for real-food offerings is on the rise. That’s certainly been our observation as we increase production of our all-natural Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter to meet demand.

"Looking to future trends is also important for Pic’s. We’re seeing some fascinating changes with the advent of things like driverless cars. It’s quite possible that sometime in the future the whole supermarket model could disappear."

Expanding horizons

The product that I began making eight years ago out of my garage for the local Nelson farmers’ market is now New Zealand’s best-selling peanut butter with more than 30% market share.  Eventually we’ll reach our maximum sales in New Zealand, so we’re using the local market to test new products like our cashew and almond nut butters, and our peanut butter slugs – demand for which is currently exceeding supply. A new production line will increase our daily output to 40,000 jars of peanut butter, and allow us to dedicate the existing line to almond and cashew nut butters.

While new product development will see us double our sales in New Zealand over the next five years, our real growth will be driven internationally. Our products are sold to online customers around the world, via distributors to specialty health stores and direct to supermarkets through brokers and agents. Fifteen to 20% of our revenue now comes from exports.

Taking it to the world

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise has been really helpful in our expansion into offshore markets. We’ve gained a lot from services like the Path to Market programme, and their market intelligence has been very valuable.

We’re currently putting most of our efforts into Australia where we have distributors in each state and product in 750 Coles stores nationwide. Expanding sales and distribution in the US is the next step –Pic’s Peanut Butter is being sold through Bristol Farms stores in California and we recently listed on Amazon in the US –after which we’ll focus more on the UK, with our first full container due to arrive there by Christmas. The goal is to get a well-known chain like Whole Foods Market stocking Pic’s Peanut Butter, and our loyal customers are crucial in achieving this.

Doing it differently

We’ve taken a somewhat unusual sales approach. Our path to market generally involves building mail/online orders first. Once we have groups of Pic’s customers and are ready to enter that market, we send our enthusiastic customers off to pester local stores. That’s a key part of our strategy –driving demand from customers asking stores to stock our products. It’s simple but highly effective.

Harnessing the value of ‘pester power’ and building a positive perception of the Pic’s brand by reaching customers directly forms the backbone of our marketing. We’ve learnt that the more real engagement you have with your customers, the more they’ll buy your product. And what’s important for our distribution is being able to direct them to our product in a store they know.

Pic’s Peanut Butter is also selling very well through our distributors in Singapore –despite being told that a product like peanut butter would never sell in Asia. It’s not a market we actively pursued, but we were introduced to a Singaporean couple who now manage our distribution there.

We’ve also learnt that simply keeping your customers engaged gets results. For us, what’s worked is people-to-people communication, whether that is at food shows, in-store tastings, on social media or in conversations with taxi drivers, not fancy marketing plans. And, of course, nothing can stand in the way of enthusiasm.