Expert advice: How to take your brand overseas

Skincare company, Clémence Organics, has recently taken the Japanese beauty market by storm. And with the U.S. next on the agenda, there’s no stopping this Aussie brand.

But how exactly do you take your brand overseas? Grab your notepad, because BD sat down with founder, Bridget Carmady, all about the process. From deciding to expand, what to look for in distributors and the important role of patience, Carmady shares her top tips learnt through the success of Clémence Organics.

Congratulations on the launch of Clémence Organics in Japan, can you tell us about the expansion and what made you decide to enter the Japanese market?

I’ve been a huge fan of Japan since I visited in 2010 on an educational tour Yakult were hosting for journalists, I was writing for health magazines as a naturopathic expert at the time. I fell in love with the people, the culture and especially the food! It was somewhere I wanted to have an excuse to travel to regularly and could see the potential for Australian certified organic skincare. 

So a year after launching Clémence I reached out to Austrade for assistance in entering the Asian export market. Turned out they were running a Beauty Showcase later that year in Hong Kong, in alignment with Cosmoprof. We applied, were accepted, and in November 2018 travelled to Hong Kong to present our brand to around 100 Asian buyers and distributors. It was here that we met our now Japanese distributor.

The brand will now be stocked in CosmeKitchen stores around Japan, what was important to you when looking for a distributor and stockists?

Being a very passionate brand owner it was important that any distributor aligned well with our vision and values. At the Austrade Beauty Showcase we met with many potential distributors and ended up turning several down as we felt that they just weren’t the right fit for us. This can be challenging when you are very keen to get into the export market, but we felt that it would only be a matter of time before we found our match. 

We’re very happy with our Japanese distributor because they share the same values and see the same vision for Clémence. This includes the right way to market the brand, stockists and pricing.

What was the process like once deciding to take the brand overseas? Have you had to change your marketing strategy to suit the new customer base?

We’re still very much in the early stages of selling the brand overseas and so I dare say we’re still figuring this out to a certain extent. 

So far we’ve focused on the same key attributes that make us a stand-out brand in Australia, such as multi-award winning, naturopathic formulations and beneficial for a range of skin conditions, but also pushed the fact that we are Australian made and use a select range of native ingredients. 

Japanese consumers have access to skincare products from around the world and so it’s important that we try to stand out as a high quality Australian brand.

What advice would you give other Australian brands that would like to expand overseas?​​

My first recommendation would be to talk to an Austrade representative who specialises in beauty and cosmetics. We found this hugely beneficial because they have a broad range of experience and contacts, and can help point you in the right direction. It also helps having the Austrade introduction to overseas distributors as it gives you credibility.

My second recommendation would be to have patience. It takes time to develop international partnerships with some companies taking 1-2 years to sign off on a deal. Use this time to get to know your distributor, asking as many questions as you can and taking time to visit them and any potential stockists.

My third recommendation would be to investigate all possible export costs and factor these into your pricing. Many countries have licensing and fees associated with importing. Ensure you are on top of these and, if not, ask your Austrade representative for assistance.

What's next for Clémence Organics?

We now have distribution set up in Malaysia and Singapore, and so this will be our focus for the next few months with a proposed launch date of late November. After this we’re planning a trip to the U.S. to meet with potential stockists there. 

We’ve also got some amazing new products coming out in a few months time which we’re super excited to launch. We feel these products will help cement our position as the highest quality, innovative, and effective organic skincare range.