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