Despite the growing exporting opportunities presented by the pound’s depreciation in the past two years, many micro business owners are struggling to find new customers overseas.
Securing an international customer base remains the greatest barrier to selling internationally, but is exporting right for your company?
Business Advice sat down with the founder of a premium pork scratching brand to find out why it’s so important as an up-and-coming brand to nail your domestic market before looking overseas.
Name: Nick Coleman
Business: Snaffling Pig
Number of employees: 15
Export markets: Australia and Hong Kong
Describe your business in one sentence
We make damn awesome flavoured porky snacks with the goal to be bigger than Walkers and as loved as Lego.
Describe your business model
We pride ourselves on being one of the most innovative food and drinks brands in the UK and we sell our range into supermarkets, fine food delis, high street retailers, pubs and direct to our customer’s homes. From whopping great big advent calendars, wedding favours, a beer, a hot sauce, a cookbook and a huge range of gifts.
Why do you export and what’s the impact on your business?
We don’t go looking for export at the moment as we just don’t have the resources to do so effectively. Instead we focus on the UK market and when export customers visit the UK and walk round stores like John Lewis, Debenhams, Tesco or Sainsbury’s they see us in pride of place. This strategy has led us to win a couple of really successful export contracts which is hopefully the start of a beautiful relationship.
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What is the most difficult part of selling internationally?
The tone of voice of our brand does not translate into other languages.
We use a lot of what’s called “romance language” in our marketing which is banned by countries like America. So, our biggest selling line is called Perfectly Salted but in the States we would have to prove that our product is indeed perfectly salted if we were to call it that – impossible to do as it’s dependent on who is eating it. We had to change the name to just salted. Boo!
What’s your biggest piece of advice for other business owners?
We’re totally new to this game so this isn’t our advice but one that a lot of brand owners have told us which we believe is totally the right call. Focus on your brand in the UK an build a strong customer base.
Only once you have tackled the UK market should you then go looking for new markets. A lot of money can be wasted trying to launch too many markets at the same time and the UK is hard enough and requires your undivided attention at the very beginning.
Where do you turn to for help?
The Department for International Trade (DIT). Our local agent is really supportive and they host a load of workshops on different markets.
Brexit: Good or bad for your business?
The main issue we face right now with the whole Brexit conversation is that of the level of uncertainty that exists. There are so many unknowns that is makes it impossible to plan so instead I have focused our business on “business as usual” and only worrying about the things that are within our control.
But as an entrepreneur it’s not in my psychology to dwell on downsides. Instead I am positive that with change will come opportunities; it’s my job to ensure the business makes the best it can of any situation.
Where do you see your business in the next year?
There is a mega trend in health with a parallel trend of indulgence and this latter trend where we will continue to operate across our channels of grocery, gifting and on-trade by building exciting formats and flavours. We want to position ourselves as the premium cheeky indulgence and that includes launching nuts and fresh meats.
Food is an exciting place to be right now and we’re also looking at how Snaffling Pig, as we move out of startup mode, can support other young foodie brands coming through.
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