Chloe: Chia began as an endurance drink for athletes; my dad is a world champion swimmer and my sister a New Zealand champion triathlete, so I was creating a drink for them. I wanted to create a drink that had the highest level of naturally occurring nutrients I could find without the added sugar or artificial ingredients. We spent the first two years establishing ourself in New Zealand, so we had a strong base here, we had production under control, cash flow under control and then we started looking at our export markets.
Florence: We knew that Chia had potential, but we didn’t know how to tap into that potential. I think the key challenge that we were facing before we entered Australia was doing the right research, knowing the exact channels that we were going to be entering, knowing the right distribution model and knowing the margins that each party should be taking. It was while we were considering Australia that our Customer Manager suggested that we go on Path to Market. Path to Market is a one week course in Melbourne and also some preparation days in Auckland before that Melbourne trip where you get the background to understand what you need to be doing to enter into these markets. No one in our team had marketing experience so this was a really valuable time for us to learn exactly what marketing means, especially in the Australian context. NZTE provided a lot of information at the Path to Market course. The Beachhead advisors really challenged me, they picked apart my business strategy, particularly for exporting to Australia and made me think about a whole lot of different aspects of exporting that I hadn’t considered before.
The trip to Melbourne was absolutely fantastic! We spent two or three days having sessions with social media experts, distributors, people that were freighting products, and then the best part for me was getting in market. We were taken across a whole variety of stores in Melbourne from Costco to cafes to small independent supermarkets. I made a lot of contacts on the Path to Market course and this was across the board. I made contacts with potential stockists, potential distributors, potential customers and also a lot of contacts with other Kiwi companies who have done this before us or were in a similar stage of exporting to us.
We went to the Fine Foods Expo in Melbourne and this was a really valuable experience. It was here that I got talking to a distributor who is now our distributor in Melbourne.
Chloe: My top tip would be to spend time in market and really get to know your customer. The work doesn’t stop when you find the right distributor, that’s when it really begins, that’s when you need to support your distributor and understand what’s going on in market to help get the product off the shelf.
Florence: The three most important things I learnt about the Australian market was firstly not treating your customer like it is in New Zealand, take the time to know your customer, think about what channels you’re entering and also make sure you treat Australia as seven different markets because each state is so different. I would absolutely recommend any company to take part in Path to Market at the right stage because it has given us the ability to understand what research we should be doing before we enter the market. It is crucial to understand the steps to export before you dive in and do it. Another key take away is that it creates a template that you can use for other export markets. We do have plans to expand beyond Australia, but something that Path to Market taught us was to concentrate on the markets that we’re in at the moment and we really want to focus on increasing our presence in Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane before we move any further.