By Jessica Guthrie
Why a new food collaboration is flying the FernMark in China.
How does a household New Zealand food brand tell its story and reach 656 million Chinese consumers?
Don’t do it alone: be part of the FernMark family.
In April this year, a collection of 18 of the country’s favourite household brands launched a flagship store on Tmall (the world’s biggest online shopping site) and banded together under the FernMark.
Called the New Zealand Food Basket Coalition, the store draws on the kete metaphor and includes Pics Peanut Butter, Babich Wines, Vogels, Rockit Apple, Future Cuisine, Pamu, Zealong Tea Estate, Fiordland Lobster and Oha Honey. A further nine brands, Zespri, Sanford, Kapiti, Lewis Road Creamery, Sealord, Pure South (Alliance Group), Shott Beverages, New Zealand Wild Catch and Cherri will launch within the next three months.
A condition of entry to the NZFB is that all brands must be covered by a FernMark licence (either individually or via the Coalition FernMark Licence).
NZFB chair Nicola O’Rourke says it has been an incredible experience in the three months since launch and early sales results are promising.
“We are seeing early conversion rate success from site traffic, with the average purchase around 200 RMB ($45 NZD) and average units per purchase of 2.5-3 units across brands.”
The key to this success is the power of the collective brand, and uniting under the FernMark. It makes sense. Research shows that Chinese consumers are very discerning, looking for six-to-eight ‘trust’ or ‘proof points’ before they will invest in a premium product, especially from other countries. “When Chinese consumers come to the site, they see FernMark, and can see that it is a legitimate New Zealand Government-backed licence and this is hugely important,” says Nicola.
Pier Smulders, Alibaba’s New Zealand Country Manager says the FernMark provides consumers with a credible indication of trust and authenticity.
“We encourage Kiwi brands to explore the options for how the FernMark can be used alongside their individual branding when reaching Chinese consumers,” says Smulders.
The brands also use personalised QR codes to connect with the Chinese consumer with a more detailed and rich brand story, a branded website and a branded WeChat (a social media and mobile payment app) – all proudly sporting the FernMark accreditation.
The NZFB is working with Alibaba to drive consumers to the flagship store through innovative marketing programmes.
“It’s a diverse, fast-moving and noisy marketplace, and you live or die by traffic. We are looking at several marketing initiatives – for instance, we expect to use influencers in the Chinese marketplace to help sell the products, such as a high profile chef using our products in an ad campaign,” says Nicola.
Tmall provides data insights into what is being sold, and to who, which region, and what consumers think about the product.
“It is a real hotbed of learning, and there is ample opportunity for the brands to respond and curate their marketing to consumers,” she says.
NZFB is focused on building a successful marketing and promotional platform and expect to add other premium New Zealand food and beverage brands in the future.
It seems knowing your roots has its advantages. Especially if you come from New Zealand.
5 reasons to use the FernMark