INTERVIEW: EMU TRACKS

May 11 2017

Q: You’ve been a market leader in Emu Oil Products here in Australia for 20 years. What made you identify China as a market you’d like to target at this point in time?
Chris: Emu Tracks has been exhibiting at Cosmoprof in Hong Kong for the last 5 years during which time there has been an increased interest in our product due to the concern of increased awareness of skin conditions in children, in particular resulting from air pollution concerns. Coupled with that, we are globally experiencing an ageing population with the prevalence of increased arthritis and associated muscle and joint conditions. These are the 2 main markets for emu oil due to its incredible healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Q: Had you any prior experience in trying to break into China prior to this, and if so, what did this involve?
Chris: Except for occasional orders placed through our online store, we have had very limited opportunity to break in to China, principally due to the restrictions and duties applied to our products.

Q: What did you do to try to break into this market?
Chris: For the last 18 months we have been researching the registration process for skin care products in China, we have filed applications for trade marks in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, 15 months ago we employed a Chinese person full time to establish a social media presence for Emu Tracks through WeChat and Weibo, we have translated a great deal of material in to Chinese and we now have 2 Chinese speaking employees. We also started considering and planning how to break in to the market and what platforms to utilise.

Q: How did you get involved in the Export Growth China program?
Chris: I was a participant on the Federal trade mission to China in April 2016 at which time I met with Paula Martin and Sara Cheng and had the opportunity of discussing the program in depth during the mission as well as visiting the Shanghai showroom.

Q: What are some of the ways Export Growth China has been able to help you, that you perhaps wouldn’t have been able to do by yourself?
Chris: One particular area I think the program excels is that the leads generated are highly qualified. I believe that Chinese distributors that have formed an association with or have expressed interest in EGC are comfortable that they are dealing with high quality goods and that the program is closely associated with Australian Government affiliations.

Q: In your experience, what are some of the challenges for Australian companies trying to get a foot in the door in China?
Chris: Clearly in my view, one of the biggest complications relates to the changing regulatory landscape offered by the Chinese Government. It is confusing and difficult to establish an accurate picture.

Q: How have you benefited from being part of the Export Growth China program? Has this lead to any solid leads/business?
Chris: To date, Emu Tracks has established a business relationship with an online company which has resulted in the products being available for online sales. We also have several other leads that we are following up which resulted in introductions from EGC.

Q: We hear a lot about how important relationships are for conducting business activities in China. Is this your experience and can you give you some examples?
Chris: I think given the diversity of cultures, it takes some time to establish trust and to arrive at a mutually agreed relationship.
 
Q: What advice/tips do you have for other SMEs who are interested in exporting to China?
Chris: Do your research; gather as much information about the market and how your product may be accepted in the marketplace. Associate yourself with quality contacts and programs such as EGC.