1492908742750 - Cookie Time expands Asian base

Cookie Time expands Asian base

Cookie Time is looking to drive e-commerce sales by opening more brick and mortar retail stores as it continues to scope new Asian markets.

The classic Kiwi cookie brand opened its first international store four years ago in Tokyo’s pop culture and fashion hub, Harajuku. 

Cookie Time general manager Guy Pope-Mayell said since opening the Japan store, online sales in the country are the highest for Asia, making up 28 per cent of e-commerce sales.

“We see there being two parts to the puzzle, we’re looking at both digital and bricks and mortar. It takes a full package to really succeed in that region,” Pope-Mayell said.

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“Our strategy is to create a beachhead foot print in Asian countries by way of retail stores and then tell that story online through social media and develop an e-commerce channel.”

The cookie bar retail store in Japan’s capital city is a replica of its sister store in Queenstown that opened in 2010 and also sells cookies, drinks, ice cream and brand merchandise.

Christchurch-based Cookie Time has been operating for over 30 years and is still owned by Pope-Mayell and his brother Michael Mayell. 

Pope-Mayell said Kiwi businesses should take advantage of New Zealand’s desirability as an international brand in Asia.

“Asian countries tend to aspire to Western brands and they love New Zealand. It’s a double whammy for businesses, Pope-Mayell said.

Pope-Mayell said the changing demographic of the Asian countries is another factor that contributed to the Cookie Time’s expansion.

“There’s a huge and growing middle class, so there’s no shortage of disposable income. Your brand can talk to a much larger audience compared to 10 or 15 years ago.”

Pope-Mayell said the business planned to set up another cookie bar retail store in either Singapore or South Korea within the next 12 to 18 months.

Cookie Time is also looking to grow its customer reach within China andby strengthening its presence on Chinese social media and e-commerce platforms such as WeChat.

He advises other Kiwi businesses to thoroughly carry out research about the potential market. 

“Arriving in a new market without meeting someone who could be a potential partner is very difficult because of the language barriers, geography and cultural differences,” he said.

Pope-Mayell said expanding business to Japan came with its challenges with people in the market suggesting changes to recipes and packaging to accommodate to different cultural and taste profiles.

But the decision to stick to its authentic brand was a risk that was worthwhile, he said. 

“Everybody is going to tell you to change your brand and make it relevant. But the best way to be authentic is backing yourself and backing your story and saying why your product is as good as it is.”