New Zealand oral care brand thinks big on China market in CIIE

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — Boosted by the China International Import Expo (CIIE), China is becoming one of the fastest growing consumer markets for the New Zealand oral care products, New Zealand entrepreneurs said on Thursday.

Mark Hitchcock, general manager of New Zealand oral care brand Grin Natural, who is now busy working on the company’s presence in the upcoming CIIE in November, told Xinhua that the Chinese market represented about one third of its export volume and was growing fast.

“China is such an exciting market for us as we are seeing a huge increase in the awareness of the importance of oral care. A generation ago Chinese consumers would only see a dentist when they had problems, now people are more proactive and take better care of themselves and their families,” he said.

“China market has bounced back from the impact of COVID-19 better and faster than we have expected, which provides huge opportunities for us. China market is now expected to be our fastest growing overseas market,” added Hitchcock.

Started from 2015, the Auckland-based company, which exports oral care products as toothpastes and toothbrushes made with natural ingredients, now boasts annual sales volume worth of 26.7 million New Zealand dollars.

According to New Zealand statistic department Stats NZ, New Zealand goods exports to China performed steadily despite COVID-19. From Feb. 1 to the end of September, 10.12 billion New Zealand dollars’ worth of goods were exported to China. It was only 3.34 percent drop when compared with the same period last year, but was still 17.9 percent higher than the same period in 2018.

Last year, the company participated in the CIIE for the first time through its local partner. Their products were well received by the Chinese consumers. This year the company decided to make a bigger move at the CIIE, by having its newly established China team all out at the event.

“We have high expectation on the CIIE, which is the largest of its kind in the world. We are hoping that by featuring our flagship products at the CIIE, the Chinese consumers will get to know more about our brand and products,” said Leo Liu, Grin’s co-founder, who was already in Shanghai to prepare for the CIIE.

According to Huang Yuefeng, economic and commercial counsellor from the Chinese embassy in New Zealand, dozens of New Zealand companies will participate in the CIIE with their premium products including food and beverage, agriculture, health and consumer products, to showcase a healthy and pure New Zealand brand to China and to the world.

“The CIIE in the past two years has witnessed tangible profits for the New Zealand companies. They have also found huge potential in working with China as it sends a strong message of opening up to the rest of the world,” said Huang.

It is this potential that Liu and Hitchcock have been endeavoring for.

“China is the world’s largest consumer market. It is also the world’s most diversified and inclusive market which gives platforms and opportunities to potential new brands like us. Chinese consumers chose products by its quality rather than how established in the market your company is,” said Liu.

He is also amazed by the ample human resources that China could provide to overseas entrepreneurs and the fast growing digital marketing platforms in China.

“Several minutes of online live-streaming could translate into several thousands of sales volume, which is unimaginable for New Zealand market,” said Liu.

Liu is also proud that his products feature the New Zealand national brand of safe, natural and sustainable. He believed that his company could explore a new pathway for New Zealand export industry, which is now heavily relying on primary products.

“We expect our company to find a pathway for exporting New Zealand light industrial products besides the dairy and primary products that New Zealand has already been doing well in its exporting category,” he said.

Fiona Acheson, regional director in Greater China of the government body New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), is working closely with the Grin Natural team in Shanghai to support the company in exploring market opportunities in the CIIE.

“Interestingly the area they are in is oral care. Not only that, hand sanitizers and things like that is definitely a growth area. In some ways it’s like an extension of the sort of healthcare category extending into oral care and to hand sanitizer. A number of New Zealand companies are looking at that area as an opportunity,” said Acheson.

“NZTE have been amazingly supportive to help us with our ambition to make a difference and become a global business. Within China, NZTE have helped us increase our understanding of consumers so that we can make a positive difference to their lives,” said Hitchcock. (1 New Zealand dollar equals 0.67 U.S. dollar)

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