First Pacific Expansion Case Study

World Archaeology

Description:World Archaeology is the only journal established specifically to deal with archaeology on a world-wide multiperiod basis and thirty years after it was founded it remains the leader in its field. Each issue is dedicated to one theme of current interest and the papers adopt a broad comparative approach, looking at important issues on a global scale. The members of the editorial board and the advisory board represent a wide range of interests and expertise and this ensures that the papers published in World Archaeology cover a wide variety of subject areas. Recent issues illustrate the variety of material published in World Archaeology, they have included volumes dedicated to new developments in archaeological science, the application of social theory to archaeology, the archaeology of art and major syntheses of such important topics as trade and exchange. Future issues will range just as widely.

Coverage: 1969-2010 (Vol. 1, No. 1 - Vol. 42, No. 4)

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ISSN: 00438243

EISSN: 14701375

Subjects: Archaeology, Social Sciences

Collections: Arts & Sciences II Collection, JSTOR Essential Collection

With its increasingly affluent population, Australia can offer great opportunities for the savvy Asian investor looking to expand an existing business or establish a new one.

In 2013 Japanese confectionery company Royce took its first steps into the Australian market. It was already a well-established brand in Asia, with outlets across the continent, as well as in Russia and the USA.

Knowing that local knowledge was the key to doing well overseas, Royce opted to form a joint venture with an Australian partner. They chose Chris Wood, a consultant they had initially hired to conduct market research for them. The partnership has flourished and Royce Australia-Pacific now has two Australian outlets, Westfield Marion, Adelaide, and Westfield Chatswood, Sydney.

 

Key learnings

1. Do your research and consider a local partner: Local knowledge can mean the difference between success and failure. Conduct market research and consider finding an Australian partner who can help you navigate the business environment.

2. Test your market: Every market is different and what works in your home country or in other markets may not work in Australia. Early testing and ongoing monitoring can help you avoid expensive mistakes.

3. Help your Australian partner understand your brand – but be prepared to be flexible: Protecting your brand is always top priority, but recognise that your approach may need to be modified slightly to suit the Australian market.

4. Keep lines of communication open and be clear on what’s expected: Your relationship with your partner will be crucial to making your new venture a success. Make sure your expectations are fully understood and communicate frequently and clearly to build and maintain trust.
 

Do your research and consider a local partner

When expanding or setting up a business in a new territory, local knowledge is vital. Royce had a long history of success in Asia – since its establishment in 1983 it had opened stores in countries throughout the region, as well as in Russia and the USA. So when it came to investing in Australia, the company knew they would need local advice.

They approached Edge International Consulting, a consultancy run by Chris Wood, towards the end of 2012. Chris had spent 20 years working in trade and investment in Japan, in both the private sector and for Austrade, before moving back to Australia and establishing Edge to help Australian firms looking to move into Asia and vice versa.

Royce’s initial brief was simply for some market research, covering aspects such as the cost of doing business in Australia and local competition. One particular question Royce had was around whether they could actually import certain products. They had been advised in Japan that it may not be possible to do so, due to restrictions relating to the percentage of dairy content in a product. “Until we had submitted our findings to them they were under the impression that they could not sell their signature product in Australia,” said Chris.

But with their expert knowledge of Australian regulations, Chris’s team was able to allay those concerns. “A lot of these regulations are very detailed and it takes someone who knows what they are looking for and someone who can decipher the information,” he said. The research also revealed that there was room for another high-end chocolate supplier in the Australian market. 

“We thought Royce had a good opportunity coming into the market because at that particular time more exclusive chocolate businesses were beginning to take off. It was clear that as the Australian consumer was becoming more affluent they were looking for some of those higher-end products,” said Chris.

Keen to seize the opportunity, Royce had to decide how to set up in Australia. The company operated in other countries under a number of different structures – they had some wholly owned subsidiaries in some locations, and used agents or formed joint ventures in others.

Both Chris and the management of Royce Japan realised that the latter would be the best option for Australia. Chris’ expertise and knowledge gave Royce the confidence that he would be a good choice, so an agreement was struck.

Test your market

Royce knew that their product would be popular with Asian Australians who knew it from Asian countries, and they were confident it would do well in areas of Melbourne and Sydney where there were large Asian populations. However, the company decided to test the market in Adelaide first of all. The South Australian capital is known for its balanced demographic and while not as cheap an option as it once was, costs are lower there than in Melbourne or Sydney.

Royce Japan has over 400 products, with about 55 of those available through its export catalogue. Prior to importing the first shipment of chocolate, Royce conducted some localised taste testing to determine which of these products would work best in the Australian market. “That really helped us to structure the order, so we weren’t overloaded with one particular product that wasn’t going to sell,” said Chris.

This, along with careful monitoring of sales, helped them develop a working model which they could use to open a second store, in Sydney.

“After the first year we were confident that we knew which products were going to be the strong sellers. We knew from our running costs what our overheads were going to be,” said Chris.

Some tweaking of the model was still required for the new store. Royce knew, for example, that green tea chocolate would be more popular in Sydney than in Adelaide, due to the stronger Asian demographic. But the extensive research they had carried out in Adelaide stood them in good stead for the new opening.

The desire to understand the market as fully as possible also influenced Royce’s marketing strategy in Australia. To date their marketing has been largely focussed on social media, with some limited radio and cinema advertising – a deliberate move to enhance the accuracy of their test marketing.

Chris said: “We’ve kept a fairly low profile with test marketing because we really wanted to get some honest feedback. We didn’t want to set up a hurdle that would affect people’s expectations. We prefer that people came in and knew nothing about it then told us what they thought.”

Now the initial testing phase is over, Royce has plans to ramp up its advertising to introduce the brand to a wider audience.
 

Help your Australian partner understand your brand – but be prepared to be flexible

The number one priority for the joint venture was to protect the brand for the brand owner. “We needed to make sure that all our control systems, our storage systems, our handling of the product itself was 100 per cent guaranteed,” he said.

But he also recognised that there would need to be some modifications to the Royce approach to suit the local market – something that Royce Japan had already acknowledged. For example, Royce does not impose replicating a Japanese shopping environment in all their stores, but instead leave it up to their local partners to decide how to do things.

Chris saw that adopting Japanese-style service could be a unique selling point in the Australian stores. “Because of our experience and background in Japan, replicating a Japanese style was a key element for us, so we incorporated Japanese-level service in store. We use greetings in Japanese, and we use Japanese-style service which has been very well accepted and appreciated by consumers,” he said.

That means the shop assistants will wrap the customer’s purchase, come out from behind the counter to give it to them, say thank you and bow. “Some of the staff questioned whether or not what they were doing would be appreciated by consumers, especially the standard Australian consumer who would get the product, turn around and walk away and not even see the bow,” said Chris.

“We did have some issues with training Japanese staff to be more Japanese because in some cases the staff had been in Australia a very long time and had become very local and had forgotten a lot about that Japanese service mentality. Conversely it was still very fresh for us because we had only been back in Australia for a couple of years.”

But the approach has paid off. The company’s Facebook page is full of comments complimenting the service and customers seem to enjoy the shopping experience as much as the product.

“The style of the service is one of the factors that made the brand so well accepted locally,” said Chris.

Promoting the store was another area where changes had to be made. Royce Japan generally take a conservative approach to promotion, but Chris knew that wouldn’t work in Australia. “Because the number of people that knew the brand in Adelaide was going to be lower than in some of the other markets we needed to develop a concept that was going to draw people to the store. We needed a bit of a wow factor,” he said.

“Every market is different. What works in Australia is not necessarily going to work in China, what works in Japan is not necessarily going to work in Malaysia, what works in the States isn’t going to work in India. You may have to modify the concept slightly.”

Both Australian stores are located in Westfield shopping centres and the involvement of Westfield management in decisions about their design was something Royce Japan were not expecting. “We had to explain to Royce that Westfield as a group also had their own requirements from a design perspective which was probably something they had not come across so much in other markets,” said Chris. “They didn’t expect they needed to get approvals from a shopping centre designer as well as their partner.”

Keep lines of communication open and be clear about expectations

Having worked in Japan for 20 years, Chris is well aware of the importance of relationships in doing business. By the time he entered into the joint venture with Royce both parties had built up a high level of trust and this is something they work hard to maintain.

One area which has been a challenge is the delivery of reports and accounting practices.

“Royce has been very patient. We’ve been lucky that they’ve allowed us to continue our consulting business in parallel to the joint venture,” he said.

“Because we are maintaining a separate business our reporting capacity is a little more limited, but we are working hard to cover our partner’s expectations while ensuring compliance in Australia. Any joint venture is a challenge but regular communication is the key to maintaining a strong, healthy relationship.”

Chris added that as a joint venture partner, he is often required to play the role of facilitator, helping his Japanese partners engage or negotiate with raw material suppliers, which has been a big benefit to Royce’s worldwide business.
 

The future for Royce Australia-Pacific

As the consumer base for Royce’s products continues to grow in Australia, the company is looking at options for expansion and considering the potential of different business models in different markets.

They are keen to establish an e-commerce platform. “We have people flying in from interstate to buy chocolate so we want to offer an e-commerce option for those people in states where we don’t yet have stores,” said Chris.

New stores are also on the horizon. “The capital cities in each state are naturally our priority targets but we’re taking it step by step, looking for the right location and the right size of store,” said Chris. “We’re not going to jump into a large store just because it’s in the right spot and we’re not going to jump into a small store if it’s in the wrong spot. We’ve got to find the right balance.”

Looking to expand your knowledge further? Download this case study and explore other research & resources by Asialink Business.

www.royceaustraliapacific.com

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