Australia is such a large place but has such a small population. Therefore, it only made sense to branch out into other countries. Everyone always thinks about getting into America, but when I looked at other regions, I realised that our closest neighbours in the Asia pacific would be perfect place launch my brand.
China has such a large population I only really needed to capture a small percentage to make a big impact to my yearly turnover. Also, because I was already manufacturing my swimwear in China, it made logical sense to try and sell into the Chinese market too. Asia is now one of our biggest markets. Rashoodz Swimwear is sold in China, the Taiwan Region and Thailand.
My top tips to getting your SME into the Asia market are:
1.Go to international trade shows. I actually met my China distributor at the ABC kids trade show in Las Vegas in the USA. I then had discussions with them for three years until we finally signed a distribution contract, needless to say persistence is key.
2.Modify your product to suit the Asian market’s needs. It isn’t a one size fits all world when it comes to your product. So in regards to my swimwear I modified sizing, packaging and even colours in a collaborative effort to ensure sales of my swimwear go well for the distributor.
3.Have clear and effective communication. We chat and QQI chat is essential to communicate efficiently and effectively. Always confirm and reconfirm what you understand is the deal. Be careful as the language barrier can sometimes cause hiccups along the road.
4.Brush up your Chinese business traditions. China is very modern in terms of business, but every country has their particular business culture that you should be mindful of, so not to offend or misinterpreted. The best way to find out about this is contact Austrade. They offer great summary guides to what to expect and the do’s and don’ts.
5.Go to the CHINA trade shows. Set up in the Australian pavilion and show your wares. The Asian market loves anything Australian designed and owned or even made. Just make sure you know your limits and don’t over commit and under deliver.
6.Documentation is essential. There is a lot of emphasis on documentation in the Chinese market. Awards you have won, or words you use to describe your product in marketing , need to have documented proof to back it up. Even saying it is the “most popular” or “award winning” needs to have official documents and certificates to prove your claims. Company seals are usually required to authenticate any signature documentation. You MUST have your company and product name trademarked in China and this can be lengthy, so make sure you get this done in advance before entering the Asian market.
7.Tell and sell your story as well as your product. The Chinese market loves a good story with a product just as we do. A mum who created swimwear for her kids who is now creating swimwear for your children resonates with everyone. So, don’t be afraid to tell your story.
It is all about creating relationships. I had the pleasure of meeting my distributors in China only recently. We went to dinner together with my family and got to have some laughs and identified common ground in our personal lives. This helps forge relationships, to help build and work together in harmony.
Laura Furiosi, Founder, Rashoodz Swimwear