Back to ba­sics

Sim­ple, ef­fec­tive, smart mar­ket­ing tac­tics are all you need to suc­ceed at ex­port­ing. Cather­ine Beard ex­plains.

Exporter - - VIEWPOINT -

Mak­ing an ex­cep­tional prod­uct or de­liv­er­ing an out­stand­ing ser­vice is one thing. Get­ting the world to take no­tice of it when we’re all the way down the bot­tom of the globe is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent chal­lenge, and a sub­stan­tial one for Kiwi ex­porters.

But you don’t have to look far to see cases of it be­ing done well – and some­times the so­lu­tion is re­mark­ably sim­ple.

Whangarei-based company Bee Kind, is a good ex­am­ple of how get­ting the ba­sics right can be all you need.

Bee Find is a small, fam­ily-owned business pro­duc­ing a range of nat­u­ral house­hold and skin­care prod­ucts, who are ex­port­ing suc­cess­fully to four dif­fer­ent coun­tries with­out any­thing more than a sound strat­egy and strong on­line pres­ence.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Rachael Ch­ester formed the business in 2009. She was al­ready run­ning an on­line store sell­ing healthy and or­ganic New Zealand-made prod­ucts, and look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive to chem­i­cal-based clean­ing prod­ucts.

“I suf­fer from asthma and pso­ri­a­sis, and used to re­act re­ally badly to the sprays. I started mak­ing my own prod­ucts so I knew what was in them,” Rachael ex­plains.

She used her in­ter­est in or­ganic hor­ti­cul­ture and herbal medicine to cre­ate a beeswax fur­ni­ture pol­ish, and the re­sult was such a suc­cess Ch­ester put it and sev­eral other prod­ucts she’d de­vel­oped on her web­site and on Trade Me.

To­day, Bee Kind ex­ports to Ja­pan, Swe­den, Aus­tralia and the United King­dom. There are two other com­pa­nies in the mix too – Ecochi, an on­line eco­s­tore, and Hon­ey­Bee Kind, a rather de­li­cious-sound­ing nat­u­ral skin care range.

Bee Kind was a fi­nal­ist in Buy NZ Made’s Peo­ple’s Choice Awards last year in the “Best on the World Stage” cat­e­gory. It’s a con­sid­er­able achieve­ment for a fam­ily-owned business up against the likes of Whit­taker’s, Re­sene, Wat­tie’s and Tip Top.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Rachael’s goal is to keep ex­pand­ing her business, but she’s in no rush to grow too quickly or lose the core strength of what she’s built. She’s care­fully man­ag­ing de­mand for the prod­uct so she can avoid con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing, which she feels can com­pro­mise the qual­ity.

“We know we’ve got the prod­ucts and in­no­va­tion; it’s just a mat­ter of iden­ti­fy­ing the best way to put it out there

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“I would like to grow it, have more staff, but still make it my­self. I want to re­tain the in­tegrity of the prod­uct.”

What is a lit­tle un­usual is that Rachael has achieved all of this with­out any cap­i­tal. Like her prod­ucts, the company’s growth has been an en­tirely or­ganic process. Her only mar­ket­ing is through their Buy NZ Made mem­ber­ship and putting prod­ucts on Trade Me.

Like­wise, all of the ex­port­ing has grown from e-com­merce sales and word-of-mouth. For ex­am­ple, Bee Kind’s en­try into the Ja­panese mar­ket came via a Kiwi ex­pat who’d been liv­ing in Ja­pan. He’d been us­ing the prod­ucts, knew the mar­ket well, and saw an op­por­tu­nity.

It’s not an ap­proach that would work for all busi­nesses, but for Bee Kind, the simplicity and ef­fec­tive­ness

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