Earlier this month we partnered with KPMG and the Export Council of Australia, educating brands on how to get ready for export. It was a fascinating evening of discussion and debate, which touched on everything from market research to logistics.
We were joined at the event by Fatou N’diaye, NSW Lead for KPMG’s Trade & Investment team, Kristen Mulligan, Business Development and Membership Manager of the Export Council of Australia (ECA), and Erica Stewart, founder and CEO of the hugely successful marketplace gift store Hard To Find, which has recently started exporting.
Tiny Hunter’s creative director Emma Scott offered branding advice, while our client services director Jo Gossage chaired the panel discussion. Below are our key takeaways, relevant whether you’re exporting already, or looking to take the first step.
If there was one key takeaway from the evening it was to make sure that your brand is strong in the Australian market before you make the leap internationally. As Tiny Hunter’s creative director Emma explained, people will look to the Australian story for trust and provenance. If your brand is not consistent, authentic, and respected here, the reason to buy diminishes. KPMG’s Fatou listed more practical reasons too, such as ensuring that there is a clear succession plan in place, that everyone in your company shares the same vision, and that you have a strong, competent team who can handle the growth.
One of the most important things to consider when exporting is your brand name, tagline, and tone of voice. Does your brand name translate correctly into the languages of your target markets? Perhaps it’s already been copyrighted by another brand? Your brand name could even mean something else entirely in a different culture or language. Hard to Find’s Erica explained how they’re currently in the process of creating a new tone of voice for Asia, as the irreverent humour of the Australian brand doesn’t have the desired impact in this new market.
Exporting is complicated and expensive, which is why it’s important to make sure the returns are worth it. KPMG’s Fatou recommends trying trade shows and conferences as a way to test the market in an inexpensive manner. Try setting up meetings and events with potential buyers and get their feedback on your product, positioning, and pricing. If you’re aiming for the Chinese market, Export Council of Australia’s Kristen suggests using the local Chinese Australian market as a way to test your brand. Using platforms like WeChat you can create paid campaigns to assess interest. If it performs well with the Australian Chinese, you know there is potential in mainland China. In China, social influencers are also incredibly important and a good way to test and trial.
There was a lot of talk about China, which is no surprise considering its proximity to Australia and the growth opportunity that it presents. But, although the opportunity China presents is vast, it is not without its challenges. Every participant on the panel shared their experiences of the complex legalities and branding issues faced when entering the market. The advice was clear; if you’re not sure that the returns are worth it why not start with a smaller market such as Singapore? Or look at other burgeoning markets such as South America.
From the chilled foods company that signed a deal with an Asian trucking company to later discover they didn’t have refrigerated trucks, to a distribution deal that turned out to be for the wrong half of the country, there are a myriad of stories of export attempts gone wrong. All of our experts urged the audience to seek advice and guidance from professionals and to ask, ask, ask along the way. As Export Council of Australia’s Kristen said; think of the worse case scenario and then plan for it.