Guest blog: from Denmark to South America – an exporter’s journey
If you have children of pre-school age or younger, you are very likely to have bumped into FlexiBath®, the iconic product from Danish company A Real Cool World. This multi-award winning company designs and manufactures some amazing innovative products that make life easier for parents. And it seems it is not just European parents: I was impressed when I visited Uruguay and Argentina back in April to see their products in both countries.
Many manufacturers would have stopped at two hurdles before getting into these markets. First of all, import duties for these products will be very high, and for an already premium product, pricing would be an issue. Clearly, their distributors targeted the right market segment and the right retailers, and the products have overcome these barriers. It says a thing or two about listening to consumers and finding a partner that really know the market.
The second hurdle would have been the usual “but what if someone copies the design?”. Yes, it can happen, but will you let that stop you? Can they also copy the quality of your manufacturing and your branding? I doubt it.
Back in the UK, I had to contact the brain behind these products, Mr N P Estrup, who was very kind to reply and share his company’s experience. A few lessons here on entrepreneurship and the value of attending trade shows:
“The company was just own by me and I invited my old partner and friend into this venture back then. After a while testing… we ran out of money and we needed a new partner, and my other old friend joined and together we did the tooling and finished the design. Already in 2008 we realized that this product was a success immediately. The award at the Kind und Jugend fair in 2008 stunned us and we were surrounded by keen distributors all over the world. This was a perfect beginning of a sweet adventure for an entrepreneur like me”
So how did it all happen for Latin America?…
“Latin Americans were keen as well but we started up launching near our location in Denmark in the beginning, we could not, of course supply all at once anyway! After a period of time we got the right distributors for the region and we just started up, them dealing with the local regulations and us supplying with the products.”
That is another obstacle that companies from confectioners to chemical cleaning manufacturers ask me about: what are the regulations? Labeling? Packaging? And my advice is: “if you are going to go through a distributors, they should take care of it. Of course, you need to have a basic understanding from the start, but it is them who should deal with the nitty gritty of it, and liaise with you in terms of requirements. They should make it clearly before you even appoint them what the requirements will be, because they might have an impact on your profitability (say, if you need to print packaging in a different language) and pricing. But ultimately, it is in their best interest to advise you often and accurately, so trust them and listen to them”.
Our interviewee adds: “If you got the right product you will find the right distributors in the market. If you expose you brand honestly you will find the way. Who would say NO to a great product, that makes everyday life easier?” and he adds, cheekily, “of course the price is always an issue!”. Final words? “My advice would be “go green and go for it“.
We will be at Kind und Jugend this year in Cologne visiting past and current clients, such as Silver Cross, and are happy to have a chat with businesses in the sector regarding expansion into Latin America. Just let us know beforehand and we can schedule to visit your stand. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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