Asia's economic explosion over the past three decades is an important factor in the rise of the middle class and increase in disposable income. By 2030 Asia will account for nearly 60% of the worlds middle class consumption. APAC has become so critical to global markets that some western businesses have started prioritizing APAC over domestic sales. We do not see the hunger for premium/luxury brands from the West abating - rather, brands like Starbucks and Dyson give some insight into the importance that APAC plays in their growth strategy.
Every 15 hours a new Starbucks store opens in Asia. Starbucks now put the needs of local consumers ahead of consumers in the US.
UK premium domestic goods manufacturer, Dyson, has announced that they will be relocating their global head office to Singapore. In 2018, Dyson's profits jumped by a third - 70% of this growth was fuleled by sales in Asia.
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A PERSONAL LETTER
We have been there.
The hours, weeks, months (and even years) of hard work, stress, and sleepless nights have finally paid off and your idea has become a reality. You have a brand, a product and/or service, a set of values and a promise to the end user that you are determined to keep. You have a successful business in your domestic markets and have worked tirelessly to build awareness with the end users targeted as key to your success.
This is where Hutton come in.
We deliver the same love, attention, and passion towards building your brand internationally. We take the time to understand you, your values, your story and the unique promise that you deliver to the end user. Whilst true that results underpin any kind of KPI metric, we have a very different approach. We build brands that endure, rather than deliver short term revenue.
Our most successful projects are those where we have become imbedded into the vary fabric of the brands that we are working with. One thing that we are not – agents. We do not go to meetings unprepared, or “try our luck” by presenting multiple options. We work with, for, and together with our partners to deliver/sell in the message that engages others to support your values and commit to growth. The Hutton Agency brand is invisible, and purposely so. To all concerned we are an extension of your company and this is certainly how we want to present ourselves to others.
A colleague had a conversation recently with a brand regarding their APAC strategy. Exceptional in every way – design, features and a clear end user need – in fact I was convinced the opportunity was so real that I was all in. The conversation started – “…we have APAC covered…we sell direct to Apple….and our web store ships internationally”. This conversation took place with a sales executive within the business. Having been involved for many years in business development, I was horrified. Aside from the obvious; I am in Thailand now, Apple have one store here, and no one knows about the brand to find their online store - it was an opportunity missed.
Asia/APAC presents a genuine challenge for those unfamiliar with the region. It took me many years to understand the drivers/motivations in play locally. I have had some of my most spectacular (and costly) fails here. What I am imploring (regardless of whether we work together) is not to make the same mistakes! I am happy (more than happy) to share with you my thoughts on the best go to market strategy.
Distribution is certainly an option, but not in isolation. If like me you have worked with multiple distributors you will understand clearly that there are the good, bad and the ugly in this space. One thing is true; however, regardless of the value that the partnership brings, is that they need support/engagement or your brand will rattle around in the warehouse (despite best promises) until the day that you get that call.
Note. Distribution remains our preferred solution, but only for the logistical capabilities that they bring and mitigating the exposure to credit risk. Should you favour a distribution model (which in all fairness is the right approach due to the largely decentralised structure across the region) please ensure that you own the end user/dealer relationship as this underpins growth. As above, without attending key meetings with targeted accounts, your brand will not get the attention it so rightly deserves.
The other very real option open to you is employ someone – but please (again from experience) think carefully about doing this locally. One of the key drivers we leverage is background. A western brand needs a senior head to command respect. In a previous role (in fact my own consumer brand), we hired locally – from Singapore. The poor chap was pulled from pillar to post and with very little respect from all, this is not a mistake we will make again. It is a truism that relationship/respect facilitates growth across Asia (SE Asia particularly.)
I often found on my trips to Asia (again, based on personal experience from having a consumer brand based in the UK) I was able to secure and attend meetings with the most senior level of management within the accounts targeted as key to establishing our brand; whereas the chap we hired locally, had chased his tail for months.
This leads me to the next point – if you do decide to hire locally, make sure, even if it is just on paper, that the position commands respect. Don’t have an account manager looking after the region. By all means (and we do) hire local talent, but make sure that the person with ownership of the region has a title/position that commands respect, otherwise it will be X times more challenging.
Direct hire of a senior manager is a big investment. My last salary (VP APAC for a NASDAQ listed tech accessory brand) was in excess of $150,000 + benefits. This is a often challenging to justify when looking for an immediate ROI, results can take time to appear.
In fact, all the above is why I started the business.
We offer the same attention and accountability as an employee without the high ticket. We are measured on results and look to scale business responsibly, ethically and deliver business that endures. We build brands.
Just one last point (and thank you if you have read all the way to the end) think about the care and attention, support and assistance, that you have provided to accounts in your domestic markets. Without question this is why you have been successful.
To grow in APAC requires the same level of care, attention to detail, and support. It is no different here (although culture/best practice is different). Hutton offers you the same dedicated resource, albeit in Asia, with no risk, regulatory or financial.
It would be great to connect, but I will leave that decision down to you.
Founder | Hutton Agency
From Bangalore to Busan
Since early 2000 I have been deeply involved in SE Asia (CV below), carving out partnerships that have created a sustainable (and recognisable) brand presence in the region.
I have an in depth working knowledge of delivering brand value/growth in the following countries (in situ):
THAILAND - MALAYSIA - INDONESIA - SINGAPORE - HONG KONG - CAMBODIA - VIETNAM - LAOS - MYANMAR - JAPAN - S.KOREA (I don't cover the North!) - TAIWAN - CHINA - PHILIPPINES - INDIA - AUSTRALIA - NEW ZEALAND
It's been an adventure
I love travel!
My professional career couldn't have been more aligned. I've had the good fortune to work for some of the largest global brands in tech, but also be a part of the management team of startups + been extremely proud to have contributed in some way to their growth.
Which do I prefer? If pushed, I guess startups - being involved at the outset of an "idea" and bringing it to life is just about the best feeling ever. I've always struggled to sit still for long - there is very little of that in a new business!
Change is the only constant in life. I relish the next challenge and the next partner that we work with and how I can add value in their journey.
It's been a journey. Ben worked closely with the marketing team to deliver budgeted growth and brand awareness across the Asia Pacific region. Highly skilled in business development and relationship building, Ben has completely restructured our regional presence to deliver a solid foundation from which to grow. Insightful and skilled, Ben has made a lasting difference to our business. I recommend Ben highly as a skilled business development and marketing lead. Oh - Ben is a lot of fun too!!
- Roxanne Ellison, Marketing, Photocentric
Location: Chester, United Kingdom | Hong Kong
box design and manufacture innovative CE accessories to support the latest in mobile hardware. With offices in 3 countries and distribution facilities in Ireland and China, box have grown from a start up to a global brand synonymous with device power, connectivity and protection. Found in 15 countries and approaching 5,000 retail stores - incl Argos, Dixons Carphone, Media Markt, Harvey Norman.
- P&L, operational management and commercial strategy.
- Establishing a global sales network, both retail direct and via in country distribution.
- PR and Marketing strategy formation and execution. Asset creation and release.
- Recruitment, mentoring and leadership of Global Sales, Marketing and product teams
- Development of “on point” brand strategy and marketing assets.
- Product sourcing and ongoing development of box related consumer products.
- Pricing negotiation, terms agreement and contractual agreements.
- Compliance, safety and ethical monitoring/audits incl. quality control pre/post manufacturing.
- Establishing a 3PL warehouse to manage localisation and FOB orders for APAC, MEA orders.
- Manage inventory, stock, and availability of product.
- Forecasting and planning with factories to ensure stock availability and turn.
VP Business Development (APAC)
Location: Bangkok Metropolitan Area, Thailand
Reporting to group CEO, tasked with developing a regional footprint for iGo across Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand. Sold to Incipio late 2014, iGo were a market leading brand in consumer power products.
- Identifying regional opportunity and developing a go to market strategy for iGo in APAC.
- Operational leadership to deliver YOY growth.
- Business development and marketing leadership.
- Building a recognisable brand with global marketing, product managers, distribution partners.
- Localisation of iGo US product assortment to ensure “relevance” and compliance.
- Establishing a 3PL warehouse to manage APAC business.
- Negotiations with existing manufacturing partners.
- Negotiate pricing/terms and contracts with regional distribution partners.
- APAC event management.
- Recruitment, management and leadership of local team.
European Sales Director
Location: Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Reporting to SVP Global Sales; recruited to manage existing iGo EMEA business and develop business in new markets and regions.
- Hands on in country management to deliver profitable incremental business.
- Identify and close “direct” business with leading CE retail partners.
- Restructured team and lead sales operations to achieve efficiencies in line with OPEX budget.
- Management of existing direct and distribution business across Europe.
- Scale business within existing account base.
- Introduction of new lines, marketing and sales programmes.
- Implementation of sell through initiatives (merchandising, training, promotion).
- Identify new regions, markets, channels and source regional partners to facilitate entry.
- Negotiate pricing, terms and contractual agreements.