Ready to reconnect? Here’s what you need to know
For four years Grant Caunter travelled the world as Global Head of Craft for Heineken Breweries. Based in the Netherlands Grant experienced first hand the changes in market as companies and consumers adjusted to lockdowns and restrictions and then readjusted once restrictions eased and businesses began to open back up again. He’s recently returned to New Zealand and set up his consultancy company ‘State of Play’. He tells Kea why it’s important businesses do a ‘warrant of fitness’ before reconnecting with their overseas markets.
‘A decade in a day’ that’s the term being used to describe how fast some markets have changed since the global pandemic forced the world to reevaluate how it did business. For example Grant says for the beer industry consumer change was instant with bars closed overnight and online sales exploding. Why, where and how consumers enjoyed a beer all changed.
Grant says these changes are common for many industries and as New Zealand businesses start to reconnect with the world it’s important they ask some really simple questions about their value proposition and their connection to consumers.
“If a New Zealand business development manager hops on the plane and tries to sell the portfolio they had two years ago to the same customers they are going to face some challenges, not only the value the portfolio offers, but also the cost to supply the same portfolio. Getting New Zealand products to market these days is more expensive and some products and services that Kiwi businesses may have been very comfortable selling even a year ago are now marginal.
However he says these challenges provide a great opportunity for Kiwi companies to really strengthen their end market, consumer first approach.
“It’s exciting because New Zealand has a lot to offer especially when it comes to premium products and services. Kiwi brands have such a great reputation overseas and the world has been starved of Kiwi banter for too long, so I really hope we can come out of the blocks swinging.”
Give your business a Warrant of fitness – Here’s what you should be asking yourself.
- Who is our customer and who is our consumer? This is such a basic question, but it’s important to revisit because things have changed so rapidly, if you don’t re-evaluate your business could be marketing to a group which no longer exists. And each international market is different.
- One size does not fit all – What’s changed and what are the new facts? Each market has responded differently and had their own local trends. Local data is required to assess the growth opportunities and premium value. What works in New Zealand will not work everywhere else.
- What scenarios could you be facing in the future? Past sales figures won’t predict the future in export markets. Time to reassess the risk and reward of international business with new cost pressures and value propositions.
- Is your international business focused, single minded and all going in the same direction? Make sure you are all on board with the game plan, pick the products that work and do them really really well. This takes focus, and cutting marginal SKUs to energise the portfolio that works.
- Do you have a focus on premium and is your value chain ratcheted as high up as possible? Things like supply chain delays and shipping costs have made it more expensive to do business from New Zealand. Combined with new consumer preferences the international market ranking for businesses will be different to two years ago. Time to look at the value chains of each market to reengineer the optimum route to consumer. Is it time to have a local presence in the lead markets to enter new premium customers, or time to consider a direct to consumer sales model?
- What markets will you be most successful in over the next year? Do not try to necessarily re-engage with every market at once, pick a few to focus on and test and learn fast. These will then become the blueprint for you to re-engage or move into other markets. Some markets you will crawl in to understand, some you can walk to finetune the proposition and in some markets where you are leading run, run, run!
- Are you prepared to fuel the flux? Take the state of flux that the world is in right now and fuel it, capitalise on the change. New Zealand will always be a small country, but we can be world class.
- Are you telling a story people need to hear? Right now it’s tough, and there is a tendency to see marketing as a cost, but a strong brand presence and story is so crucial as you re-engage. Have you tested the brand value proposition in each international market and does your messaging work (understood)? Are you using the best of New Zealand, do you have something that overseas companies can’t compete on? You will have higher costs, so make sure you have a solid value proposition that comes with a proven international selling story.