Export Growth China Case Study - Emu Tracks

Having trouble breaking into the Chinese market?

Not only is it difficult to navigate your way through the cultural and language barriers present in a foreign market, but there is also the issue of making sure your product complies with the many restrictions that may be imposed. Combine this with the large cost of participating in trade shows overseas and before you know it, you're looking at a $20,000 bill with no guarantee that you will find a suitable buyer for your product.

There is a better way!

The Export Growth China (EGC) Program, supported by both the Australian and Chinese Governments, provides a unique combination of export services designed to economically overcome the hurdles of building a Chinese export business. Read on to find out how EGC helped Business SA member Emu Tracks break into the Chinese market, as described by Managing Director Chris Gregory.

About Emu Tracks

Established in 1996 with a commitment to producing the most natural range of emu oil products possible, Emu Tracks is a proudly Australia-owned business. Celebrating 21 years of manufacturing in 2017, the ‘Year of the Rooster’, Emu Tracks are the leading experts in chemical and additive-free emu oil products.

Involved in the founding stages of the Australian emu industry in the early 1990’s, we were integral players in the formation and administration of both local and national emu farming associations around Australia.

Emu Tracks is the only fully integrated company in Australia that commercially manufactures our range of products in-house, thereby maintaining quality and control over the entire process of rendering, formulation and product manufacture. With over 25 years’ experience in the emu industry, we are the world’s leading specialist manufacturer of emu oil products and consistently deliver the highest quality emu products available on the market.

What was Emu Tracks’ previous experience in trying to break into the Chinese market prior to joining EGC?

Except for the occasional order placed through our online store, we previously had very limited opportunities to break into the Chinese market. This was principally due to the restrictions and duties applied to our products.

As a team, we began devising a plan on how Emu Tracks would break into the Chinese market. For the last 18 months we have been researching the registration process for skin care products in China and we have filed applications for trade marks in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 15 months ago we employed a Chinese expert full time to establish a social media presence for Emu Tracks through WeChat and Weibo. Thanks to the support of two Chinese speaking employees, a great deal of our material has now been translated.

How did EGC help you to gain entry to the Chinese market?

I attended Australia Week in China (AWIC) in 2016 and, after discussing EGC with Paula Martin, General Manager of the EGC Program, I came to understand in greater detail what the program had to offer. It provides a ‘soft’ entry into the Chinese market for small Australian businesses, such as Emu Tracks, with minimal experience in the Chinese market.

The confidence provided by EGC being a Government-affiliated program, combined with the specialised knowledge provided by experts on the ground in both Shanghai and Sydney, means the program excels in generating highly qualified leads.

Reputable Chinese based businesses, distributors and agencies are keen to be affiliated with the EGC Program as they derive comfort in the knowledge they are dealing with trustworthy Australian companies producing a high-quality product. The fact that the program is closely associated with the Australian Government is also seen positively by potential buyers.

Has EGC generated any opportunities for you with potential Chinese partners or buyers?

To date, the EGC Program has introduced Emu Tracks to five potential partners. We have already signed a partnership agreement with one of these companies and are currently considering a contract with another. The program has quickly opened doors for us that we may not have otherwise had access to had we continued to go it alone. These potential partners are eager to embrace what Emu Tracks offers and we are confident of a bright future with our expansion plans into China based upon the enormity of the prospects being placed before us. 

What advice/tips do you have for other SMEs who are interested in exporting to China?

My advice would be to do your research. Gather as much information about the market as you can, and educate yourself as to how your product might be accepted into that marketplace; doing so will give you a strong understanding of whether your product has a chance to be successful. Beyond that, the key is to associate yourself with quality contacts and programs such as EGC, as this will make the whole entry process much smoother and will allow you to put more time and effort into improving your product.

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