Claudia Batten – NZTE and ASB-hosted event for FGC

Monday 16 March 2015

picThe partnership with NZTE and ASB is very important for the Export Forum and will help us to deliver some excellent speaker sessions as well as providing some strong networking opportunities for members. In the first of our series on unlocking how to get results in key markets, NZTE’s Regional Director for North America, Claudia Batten (pictured at right), talked of her experiences and strategy for the North American market. Her key insights and those of participants in the audience made for an extremely interesting session.

I encourage all exporters or those considering expansion into export to attend the next sessions in the series:

  • May FGC AGM: Peter Crisp – NZTE CEO
  • August: Doing Business in Asia
  • November FGC Conference, Sydney: Cracking the Australian market

Steve Jurkovich, Executive General Manager of Business at ASB, welcomed Claudia and FGC members to the ASB centre for the first of the Export Forum speakers for 2015. Steve is passionate about export growth and highlighted the new opportunities for the food and grocery industry resulting from the tripling in the middle class in many countries.

ASB is keen to engage and is working with exporters on three key areas:

  1. New markets – innovation
  2. Connecting with the right people/partnerships
  3. Providing capital and capital structures for developing scale to meet global demand.

Claudia introduced herself as being the queen of dreams and ambitions, with agility as her first, middle and last name. She has had an extremely interesting, varied, dynamic and impressive career which started in law in New Zealand. After four years with Russell McVeagh, she packed up and went to New York where she started MASSIVE media in New York. The business was then acquired by Microsoft, but she stayed on and worked inside the business for three years. She then left to create an advertising agency from crowd sourcing, followed by her most recent venture, a start-up gaming business.

Claudia has just been appointed to her role as Regional Director for North America, and is extremely excited about taking her passion for marketing and business into assisting New Zealand companies to succeed in the United States market.

She noted some key challenge areas for brands in North America which companies could apply to many of our markets.

Firstly, the ability to stretch across channels – social (all components), digital (website, data), and mobile (predominant channel). She said she believed it is all about the moments – consumer problems are now typically solved by mobile. The key challenge we all face is how to get closer to consumers. Facebook is now very expensive to engage on scale. ‘Likes’ are not good enough. Pinterest is second largest and now of large influence – are you aware of and engaged in Pinterest?

The second challenge is authenticity – this drives brand marketing today and helps to get penetration into digital and social. It must be genuine and integrated. Air NZ is a great example, and Claudia accentuated their bravery to commit to the creative and deliver an authentic vision.

So now brands must harness an authentic brand message and stay true to delivering their marketing strategy through this. Next, companies must develop a mobile focus to marketing and drive customer engagement. They must meet consumers through their touch points – this will give them a chance to win share of voice.

Marketing is becoming more tactical and specialised; therefore thinking about talent is very important or critical to success. Companies need real specialists, otherwise they will get lost in the online wash.

In her new role, Claudia intends to help New Zealand exporters through collaboration as she said that Kiwis typically tend to do their own heavy lifting. She encouraged companies to learn from those who have been successful. Don’t steal their playbook but take parts of it and apply it to your business. She believes that NZTE can help companies access the right channels and buyers in market, so use them.

Claudia addressed some audience concerns:

Distribution models

  • Establish your unique selling proposition before looking to enter a market and establish a distributor.
  • Look into online channel first – cheaper and easier to gain market entry.
  • Once you have chosen your distributors, don’t step back. You need to drive them and include them on strategic process, including marketing. They have the in-market expertise which you need to use and learn from.
  • Work to ensure product mix is suited to markets and stores. You need to verify your market validation model – this is key to ensuring they are well placed.
  • Ensure values are aligned.

Beachheads programme – advisor programme in North America

  • Keep raising challenges and be specific around requirements (Claudia intends to build a larger team).
  • Influencer networks – this is a new initiative where samples are sent to some key influencers to tweet and share on social networks. Will drive back-door opportunities.

Provenance – important and useful in some markets but not in others

  • Don’t lead with it but it can be part of your brand image. Can be a helpful piece.
  • Would advise to lead on technology, innovation, brand story and USP for products.
  • Focus investment in marketing first. Don’t want to fragment marketing spend. Work to build brand in New Zealand first.

How do you gain a media and brand presence in the USA?

  • Start with USP and social media.
  • When you know brand love and awareness exists then work on consumption penetration – shopper purchase understanding.
  • Then develop strategy based on channels where you believe your opportunity lies but be tactical and focused.
  • Take a similar approach to having an app – needs to be engaging and have repeats. Mobile similar to marketing.

Other tips

Your message must be either useful, provocative or entertaining. Social media gets people talking from understanding the brand. Drive ideas with sharing.

Marketing 101 is more important now. Previously it was about doing a TV ad well. It is the opposite now – cheap and easy execution to gain mass media.

Online retail is a cheaper and easier way to enter markets. Build digital distribution capability and you will also get great data back. Start with Amazon. Multi-channel is still important – you need retail to grow the base and cover overheads while growing.

Be agile and think like a start-up – build a love connection. Don’t think that you are driving penetration and consumption quickly. Be patient – it is a ripple/network effect.

Members are encouraged to attend our next sessions. They are a great opportunity to hear from excellent quality speakers but also provide an opportunity to extend your FMCG and export networks.

– report by Kelly Smith