New Zealand is 7,000 miles from China, but the launch of the New Zealand Country Flagship Store on Tmall Fresh puts an array of the country’s high-quality food products at the fingertips of Chinese consumers.
Launched Wednesday, the flagship store is a joint venture between Tmall Fresh and the New Zealand Food Basket Ltd., which comprises of 18 of the country’s most-reputable and beloved food and beverage brands.
The opening of the flagship store, said Nicola O’Rourke, chairperson of the consortium, offers these brands a direct connection to Chinese consumers.
“It will significantly improve our reach and shorten the supply chain in a way that each brand couldn’t achieve alone,” she said.
With a few taps on the Tmall mobile homepage, Chinese consumers, whose appetite for high-end imported food products is booming in tandem with the rise of discretionary income, can browse and select from an assortment of New Zealand food products.
According to New Zealand Food Basket, an initial batch of nine brands– Babich, Vogel’s, Rockit, Future Cuisine, PƒÅmu, Zealong, Fiordland Lobster and Oha Honey – will begin sales through the flagship store on Tmall Fresh, the grocery arm of Tmall, from mid-April.
The second batch of nine – Zespri, Sanford, Lewis Road Creamery, KƒÅpiti, Sealord, Alliance, Shott Beverages, Wild Catch, and Cherri – will begin sales on the marketplace in June.
The discussion about opening a dedicated New Zealand flagship store on Tmall Fresh began around a year ago with the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. Talks were based on a shared vision of boosting Chinese consumers’ awareness of premium food products from New Zealand, said Maggie Zhou, Alibaba’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand.
“Together, we want to help these brands deepen their engagement with the Chinese consumer, so shoppers in China can gain a greater appreciation of the premium high-quality products that New Zealand offers,” she said at the signing ceremony in Shanghai.
Moreover, by increasing the brands’ recognition in China, it will help participating New Zealand companies gain greater influence over the positioning, pricing and distribution of their products in this key market, Zhou added.
China and New Zealand have long had robust bilateral trade. According to New Zealand’s official data agency, Stats NZ, in 2018, China was the country’s single-biggest export market, accounting for around one in every five dollars of sales of goods and services. At $16.6 billion, New Zealand’s export to China for the year ended Sept. 30, 2018 was $2.6 billion more than Australia and nearly double the sales to the U.S.
“It’s no secret that even big, successful New Zealand companies can struggle to get brand recognition on Chinese e-commerce platforms,” said Lewis Road Creamery Founder Peter Cullinane “A collective approach, with Alibaba’s backing, is a huge opportunity.”
As China’s biggest e-commerce operator, with nearly 700 million monthly active users, Alibaba’s online marketplaces are often foreign brands preferred gateway to China. Tmall, China’s largest B2C shopping portal, is no exception.
To illustrate, the result of a targeted-promotion test to predict the success of the New Zealand Country Flagship Store showed Tmall Fresh received orders for 1,200 cases of New Zealand apples in two minutes, six times more than normal monthly sales of the same product.