Focus on exporters

Export: “Market analysis and research are of utmost importance”

Holle is one of the leading manufacturers of organic baby food. Founded in 1933, the company exports its products to over 50 countries worldwide. Natalie Nonaka, Business Development Asia, on market structures in Asia, the value of a good partner, and why Vietnam and Indonesia are their next growth markets. 

Indonesia is a growth market for Holle baby food due to its rising upper and middle class segment.
Indonesia is a growth market for Holle baby food due to its rising upper and middle class segment.

Ms. Nonaka, what are the key points to be followed when entering a south east Asian market?

In my opinion market analysis and market research are of utmost importance. Before entering a new market, you need to know at least some key figures about the market. Research always helps to clarify why this certain market shall be entered, or why it would be better not to do so. Or maybe the research result shows that a market entry would be better at a later point of time.

Apart from that, paying attention to the regulatory situation as well as the registration processes are very important, too. However, this might also depend on the different industry sectors. I can only speak for FMCG, especially for baby food, and for us this is really one of the crucial points. Last but not least the according tax rates need to be considered, too.

What differences are there between the markets?

From my experience no market is like the other. Even though we are talking about neighbor countries, the market structures can be totally different. This means in one market you can have a quite reasonable proportion between domestic and international players for example, while in another country the domestic players are strongly dominating the market. These kinds of differences are normally also linked to the legal and regulatory differences between the countries. Cultural differences as well as the political situation and even the climate also play a role.

What are the key success factors for business in the long term?

Holle baby food is exporting to over 50 countries, which means we are working with more than 50 different partners worldwide. Experience taught us that finding a good partner and building up long term relationships are the key factors to success. However, there is not one stereo type of the “perfect” partner. It is important to find a partner who knows the business, who maybe is experienced in importing and has access to the important sales channels. But most important is that you have a partner you can trust and who shares the same values and philosophy. In the end it is all about relationship and that you collaborate with people who are passionate about their work.

And another important lesson I learned over the past years is: being patient. Entering new markets can easily take up to 2-3 years. This of course also depends on the industry. Being patient and also persistent will pay off in the end.

Where does Holle see the biggest potential for growth and why?

We are currently working on the market entry for Vietnam as well as Indonesia. These dynamic markets are very interesting for Holle due to the increasing upper- and middle-class segment. We recently receive more and more requests directly from Vietnamese retailers as well as end consumers who are looking explicitly for high quality organic baby food products. This also shows that the awareness for organic products is increasing in these countries and that we already have a brand awareness there. 

We are also planning the market entry for USA and Canada. We found out that there is a huge demand for organic baby food products, especially for premium organic infant milk formulas from Europe. Our Holle infant milk formulas are presented in so many different blogs and recommended by influencers that we are sometimes overwhelmed by the requests we receive from consumers.  

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