‘Make or break’ in Asia: What to consider in 2018

‘Brand Australia’ is synonymous with fresh air and clean soil – and that presents incredible opportunities for Australian brands interested in the Asian market.

Guy Mendelson, ANZ Small Business Banking General Manager, says that the growing online demand from Asian consumers for Australian products is providing lucrative opportunities for small businesses: “Throughout Asia, the ‘Australian-made’ certification is synonymous with world-class quality and the burgeoning eCommerce channels present an opportunity for every small business to trade directly with Asia’s growing middle-class populations.”

Based on top takeouts from ANZ’s Opportunity Asia report, we share with you considerations that may make or break your success.

Always make quality your top priority

There is a growing middle-class population (predicated to reach 3.2 billion consumers by 2030) that prefers Australian products to those locally made, because they are seen as ‘premium’, ‘trustworthy’ and ‘safe’. In fact, 15% of active Australian businesses operating in Asia between 2015 and 2017 believe that quality has been a primary driver of success. Unpolluted natural resources? Yep. Robust quality checks? Sorted. Products that thrive in Asia highlight these aspects in their packaging and marketing strategy.

Research how tastes differ across borders

What works for one market may not work for another. This is one lesson that David Worth, CEO of Go Natural, has learnt: “Interestingly, we have discovered that we can never assume taste buds. One of our moderately popular products in Australia is of high interest in Taiwan, which confirms the differences in taste preferences.” Further to that, China is one big place! The combined population of major cities is over 150 million people alone and each region has its own characteristics. David says persistence and “failing fast” are key.

Consider cultural context

Understanding what day-to-day activity looks like in a foreign market will help you plan, manufacture and distribute accordingly. As homes in Asia are typically much smaller than those in Australia, product size will impact sales. Allan Hood, CEO of Bulla Cream, recalls: “A two litre ice-cream container just didn’t work. We struggled to sell them. We looked into it and found that most households simply didn’t have a large-enough freezer, so consumers were actively looking for smaller sizes. Also, they didn’t want to carry large bags of shopping.”

Ensure eCommerce is part of your 2018 strategy

A key theme in the Asian market is convenience. When people are busy and deliveries are easy, online shopping is a no-brainer. Carolyn Cresswell from Carman’s Fine Foods explains: “Consumers across China can already purchase a wide range of food or beverages online and have orders delivered to their office in two or three hours before heading home from work. What people don’t understand in Australia is the true power of eCommerce in China. There are literally bike couriers everywhere in Shanghai making deliveries all over the place.”

Create a dedicated team

Although there are many agents that help foreign entities conduct business in Asia, Carolyn from Carman’s recently took five members of her team to Shanghai. She says, “There’s lots of opportunities out there but for us it’s not about how many countries you’re in – it’s about building your business and your brand in the countries you’re focused on.” That’s a sentiment that Allan from Bulla agrees with: “You’ve got to have people on the ground. We’ve brought more of that capability in-house to handle export demand. You can’t just rely on an agent to do it for you in a new market. It shows commitment when you get in there with your own people.”

Use technology to your advantage

ANZ is aware of the opportunities for small businesses in export markets and has developed Be Trade Ready. It’s a digital tool that uses data-driven insights to help Australian businesses prepare for international expansion. If you’re looking to seize opportunities in Asia, check it out today.

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