Six barriers to trade
Over the past few years of talking to brands and producers on what they have experienced exporting, I have identified six barriers to trade and competing for brand recognition, and elaborated on ways to reduce these through better choices – across brand strategy, brand story and experience, export strategy and plan, packaging, expos, and partner strategies.
1. Brand strategy
Consumers don’t buy into a product; they buy into the brand. So when you look at the importance of a product, you really need to step back and look at the bigger picture that is the brand piece. Your brand position, voice, story and the look and feel all need to be right to give your product a point of difference in the marketplace.
2. Brand story and experience
This is why people buy your product and it’s never been more prevalent than today. Even before the pandemic, the farm-to-fork and paddock-to plate-movements were gaining momentum, with people wanting to be educated on what they are consuming and using. How the products are made, where they are from and how sustainable they are. In addition to this is innovation in product quality assurance through traceability of foods, particularly within the fresh produce sector. It’s a great time to be a brand with so many gadgets and ways to bring your brand story to life and create a brand experience for consumers.
3. Export strategy and plan
I tip my hat to every producer wanting to sell their product into an international market, particularly within the agribusiness, food and beverage sectors, as there are so many variables from bushfires to floods, to frost and drought. And that’s even before you look at export tariffs, taxes, trade agreements and the cost to freight when a pandemic hits. Just the tip of the iceberg.
It always makes business sense to have an export strategy and plan for the short, mid and long-term growth of the company, an allocation of resources and funds over that time and SWOT analysis so you are prepared for the good, great and not so great times. An export strategy needs to be agile enough to lean into market trends and changes, internationally. If we use the current pandemic as an example, changed trade relations have altered a number of existing export routes for some brands and the need to pivot to new markets has caused many brands more than a few sleepless nights.
Brands relying on one export market often build a niche within a single market and increase their product range to expand across different cities and regions, without looking to new markets to de-risk their export growth plans. At the time it sounds like a great strategy until the rules are changed and a pandemic sweeps across the globe.
Therefore having one or two additional markets within your export strategy allows brands to pivot when there is a shift in their current market. The key for brands onboarding this approach is to adopt a global lens when looking at their social media and marketing landscape so they can target the new audience from their existing export market. This enables brands to test the appetite and “brand fit” for that market through targeted consumer demand. Researching early and being prepared is a must, as all markets are different when it comes to labelling, legal and operating requirements. What is right for one market may not be right for its neighbouring markets.
With so many channels through which to sell your product, you need to ensure your packaging fits both offline and online spaces. You also need to do a number of communication tasks, including selling the product, telling the consumer what’s inside, how good it is and where it’s from. Packaging is that last moment where you can grab a consumer’s attention, so it’s important to keep it on-brand while keeping it simple. It’s the balancing act between where a product often lives or gets left behind, or worse, left on the shelf.
Every health, beauty, food, beverage and agribusiness you could find around the world are at expos, even if they aren’t the right fit or aren’t ready. Bands can spend days at each expo competing for their 2 x 2 metres of space, pitching to potential buyers about why their products are good, handing out samples, business cards and keeping an eye on competitor brands from other parts of the globe. Some brands are ready and look amazing, while others potentially have amazing products but miss the packaging, branding and look that a buyer wants or needs to sell the product into their market.
Looking forward, the expo and seminar space is shifting in its offering and it needs to, particularly as meetings and everyday office work has had to change due to the pandemic. What we need to see more of is intimate experiences, where brands have different ways to bring their products to life and innovative ways to promote these experiences to buyers globally.
6. Partner strategies
Over the last 30 years of travelling around, talking to companies, brands and service providers and experiencing the good, the great and the not so great, I have found that the right partners are integral to your export success. Identifying the not so good ones early on and acting on that sooner, rather than later, is absolutely integral.
There is a lot of support offered by both industry and private sector for small businesses wanting to grow through exporting goods. It makes businesses competitive, innovative and raises productivity. Successfully exporting overseas is key for companies to kickstart growth and prosper in the marketplace. So it is more important than ever that you make sure to have your export strategy and plan in order before you start.