‘Focus on Australia-made’: COVID-19 export hurdles push Aussie brand Aromababy to refocus on domestic market
Aromababy was founded in 1994 by Catherine Cervasio, who has a background in product development for personal care.
The outbreak of the virus caused major disruptions for the company, most notably on the export side of the business.
“Previously, most of what we were doing was export, but the export borders closed. Pretty much all of our trade came to a halt and export became pretty much non-existent for a few months,” said Cervasio.
As of today, the export has been recovering and the company is now exporting to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia. It is also looking to expand into Korea.
“Despite the borders closing, I can still see some silver linings and opportunities shining through the dark clouds,” said Cervasio.
However, the company big plans to expand its business in China has been derailed by COVID-19.
It has since refocused its efforts in the domestic market and its direct-to-consumer (D2C) business.
“In Australia, our retail ended up closing during the lockdown. So, we had to look to our D2C business. We upgraded our website, launched face masks and pushed hard on D2C.”
Additionally, the company partnered with Myer department store to sell its products via the retailer’s e-commerce platform and said it saw a 3000% increase in revenue in the first three months.
Standing out in domestic market
Cervasio told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that as a result of the pandemic, consumers were looking for products with a “point of difference”.
“Most products in our category are in mass-market discount stores. They are around the same price point with the same marketing message. We found that people are looking for that authentic brand story, something they can trust. So, the focus is away from supermarket brands to more specialist brands.”
Cervasio elaborated that she has observed demand for products that evoke a sense of trust, credibility and authenticity.
“There’s a focus back on Australia-made products. As the pioneers in this space, we’ve got that heritage that people are looking for.”
She believes this is why the brand performed so well with Myer.
“We aren’t in every shop or online platform. We are available in hospitals, resorts and boutiques. That’s why we saw a big increase with Myer – we were finally accessible to people looking for something different and more than what’s available in the supermarkets.”
Moving forward, Cervasio expects the consumer to become even pickier and demanding when it comes to personal care products.
“It’s not just about natural and organic anymore; they are looking for specialists. They want Australian-made product with a low carbon footprint. They want a really sustainable brand, not an organic brand that still uses additional paper box packaging – they are looking for brands that tick off more of the boxes.”
In response to this, the company is working to certify all its products as organic – something it previously did not do because some certifications were a barrier to export. Additionally, it is transitioning its only non-vegan product into a vegan product.
Furthermore, the company will be launching more products, including a natural and organic hand sanitiser made from locally sourced grain alcohol.
Cervasio said: “We also want to focus on the message of safety because we want to highlight that organic does not automatically mean it’s safe for babies or eczema-prone skin.