According to Alibaba Group (Australia and New Zealand) Managing Director Maggie Zhou, the New Zealand Country Flagship Store aims to allow for the pooling of resources amongst brands to ‘participate in campaigns and promotions, share best practice, and invest in collaborative branding’.
“The store also allows these brands to benefit from New Zealand’s strong country brand and the support of [the country’s trade promotion governmental agency] New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE),” she told FoodNavigator-Asia.
The continued rise in demand for imported food products by Chinese consumer, especially in the rising middle class, was cited as a key factor for this collaboration.
According to estimations from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Chinese middle class will grow to 850 million people by 2030.
“Opening this store allows Tmall to offer a greater product selection of unique, branded New Zealand products to Chinese consumers,” added Zhou.
Providing some background on the collaboration, an NZTE spokesman told us that: “In early 2018, Alibaba came to NZTE with the proposal for New Zealand to be the first country to open its own country pavilion on Tmall Fresh for premium New Zealand F&B brands.”
“Since then, NZTE has worked closely with Alibaba and their Tmall teams to identify suitable NZ brands to form a coalition [and] create the Tmall country pavilion store with more than 200 products from 18 [brands].”
In an official press statement, New Zealand Food Basket chairperson Nicola O’Rourke described the initiative as a ‘single doorway that directly connects [New Zealand brands] to affluent Chinese consumers’.
“It will significantly improve our reach and shorten the supply chain in a way that each brand simply couldn’t achieve alone.”
She added that in a test live-stream targeted promotion, a product promoted on the flagship store received 1,200 orders in two minutes, as opposed to the average 200 unit orders per month in China.
According to Alibaba statistics, Tmall is currently China's largest third-party platform for brands and retailers.
Hopes to connect more Chinese consumers
Amongst the 18 notable brand names in the Country Flagship store include: Pic’s, Vogel’s, Pamu, Babich Wines, Rockit Apple, Future Cuisine, Zealong Tea Estate, Fiordland Lobster and Oha Honey, which have already begun sales via the platform.
The remaining nine: Kapiti, Lewis Road Creamery, Zespri, Sanford, Sealord, Pure South, Shott Beverages, New Zealand Wild Catch, and Cherri will initiate sales in June.
In a statement to FoodNavigator-Asia, Vogel’s Managing Director Justin Hall said: “Vogel’s cereals are well established in Chinese e-Commerce and popular with consumers of imported cereals, often younger millennials.”
“[This initiative] enables us to reach different consumers through collaboration with complimentary products such as fruit and dairy [and] reinforces our strong country of origin story, by linking Vogel’s with other iconic New Zealand brands.”
This view was concurred by Pic Picot, Founder and CEO of Pic’s Peanut Butter, who added that: “[This initiative presents] a great opportunity to connect Chinese consumers with New Zealand food and beverages.”
In a separate press statement, Lewis Road Creamery founder Peter Cullinane described this as a ‘huge opportunity’, saying that: “It’s no secret that even big, successful New Zealand companies can struggle to get brand recognition on Chinese e-commerce platforms.
“A collective approach, with Alibaba’s backing, is a huge opportunity.”
Moving forward, Zhou said that expansion efforts will mainly focus on growing product selection and increasing the number of brands on offer.