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Reply To: Hello, I’m Morg & I’m currently founding a non-alcoholic sparkling drinks company aiming to (eventually) export product into Asia. Like most start-ups I have limited capital to develop and launch my venture and i’m wrestling with a kind of strategic fork in the road. Practically, I need to prove concept here in NZ before taking the leap overseas but I’m worried efforts to succeed domestically are efforts which won’t translate overseas. For instance different taste buds and cultural values mean recipe work, packaging and overall brand tone might fall flat in the markets I really want them to succeed. I acknowledge the opportunity to lean into the diaspora here in NZ but remain confused on the best approach to balance the need to develop for two distinct consumers. How can I build a product fit for Asia that works in New Zealand first?Am I overthinking this?Do you have any great resources or contacts that might have answered a similar question with their product?Cheers,Morg Fisher

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Hi there Morg – I don’t think you’re “overthinking” this… these are exactly the things you should be thinking about. Your test market should reflect the market that you’re targeting, which as you have suggested is not necessarily the case using the NZ market as a test for a product bound for Asia.
When I worked in market research (some years back), even the big NZ F&B companies had this exact problem – one of the ways to address this, esp in the early evolution of the product development, was to find a group of people here who were sufficiently new to NZ to still have some of their residual tastes and market knowledge from their home countries. Sometimes we’d even test products with tourists visiting from those countries (sadly not possible just right now). However, you may well find some relatively new arrivals from Asia to be your crash test dummies… be sure you ask them lots of questions…
– what would this drink compete with, what would people who like this drink be drinking now (ie. what are you replacing in their repertoire)
– is this a drinking out or drinking at home drink, everyday use or special occasion
– and what is the price range for these types of drinks
Also worth asking them to describe (in as much detail as possible) the type of person in their home country who would find this drink most appealing, and when and where and with whom they would drink it
They could also help you with flavour variants, and preferred packaging formats, for example.
Hope that helps – you’re entering a crowded market, so it will be critical to really stand out in some way that is uniquely appealing to your market (before they’ve tasted the drink, you have to get them to buy it to try it!)
Good luck!