Middlesex-based coconut water brand Cocofina found it challenging to maintain consistent sales throughout the year. Though revenue was good in the summer, sales for drink companies fall dramatically in winter and the business suffered.
The company needed to even out demand by selling to hotter countries during this time, but it was crucial to keep the brand’s niche during expansion. Founder Jacob Thundil said the company hadn’t targeted the right customer when it launched and the product struggled. Success was ultimately found with a particular demographic, so it was crucial the export business embraced the same values.
Cocofina started by understanding the core elements of the brand that would need to be replicated elsewhere. The company focused on the health benefits of coconut water and targeted a particular income level, so it was important the product wouldn’t be sold in confectionary stores or branded as a soft drink alternative.
“If you’ve got a brand in London, you don’t want a customer to go to a different country and see that your brand’s perceived differently there. You have to be as consistent as possible and learn to say no when the opportunity is not right,” said Thundil.
Rather than aiming for big markets like China or India, Cocofina sorted countries by their general attitude towards health foods and average annual income. Iceland, despite having a significantly smaller population, was a better fit for the company’s brand.
After successfully working with a Scandinavian distributor to export to the area, Cocofina moved products into other countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. The company now sells in 28 countries and export revenue makes up more than half of the company’s sales.
“Don’t go where the market’s asking you to go,” Thundil said. “Go where you want to go. If you don’t have a plan, you’re going to get pushed in lots of different directions. Don’t export without being prepared either – you’re not just trying to export to anywhere. You want to support the right customer.”