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Mt Maunganui based specialty pet food manufacturer, Ziwi Ltd, is celebrating record sales during the biggest shopping day on the planet – Double 11 or Singles’ Day.

Ziwi Peak was the number three cat treat brand sold on Tmall – the flagship online platform operated by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. During this year’s Double 11 and the surrounding days in November, Ziwi brand sales grew 700 percent compared to the same period last year.

Double 11 or 11:11, falls on November 11 every year and was first created by Alibaba in 2009.  The event was originally dedicated to single people and is recognised as the biggest shopping day in the world, outstripping the sales of US shopping holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  This year saw Alibaba’s platforms sell goods worth 268 billion yuan, or US$38 billion, easily exceeding last year’s record US$30.5 billion sales*.

The success of Double 11 follows impressive growth for Ziwi in China over recent years, with total sales to the country expected to grow by 150 percent this year. China has faced massive growth in pet ownership, with the number of pet dogs and cats forecast to reach 99.15 million this year, rising by 7.66 million from last year.

Six years ago Ziwi, New Zealand’s largest pet food exporter, started to explore the China market.  In 2016 the brand launched into offline pet food stores and key online stores through a partner, Haiji, and last year identified a partner to launch online flagship stores, as well as launching on Alibaba’s Tmall platforms.

Within two years, China was Ziwi’s second largest global market and the company is New Zealand’s largest pet food exporter to China and around the world. Director and General Manager of Sales, Nigel Woodd, says the entry into China has been a steep learning curve for the business.

“We have been constantly evolving our sales and marketing plans since launching in 2016.  This has included driving our digital presence to create bespoke and highly engaging content for Chinese pet owners.

“With no Google, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and a rich and diverse mix of rapidly evolving Chinese platforms, it is very different from our marketing in other countries.  Social media platforms such as Weibo, Little Red Book, Douyin, and eCommerce sites like Tmall, along with influencers, are integral to shopping in China.”

Woodd credits the company’s strong Double 11 performance with the engaged shopper base that has been building for the last 12 months. “Last year we felt we were ready to step change our investment into China and to expand our digital presence with both flagship stores and increased online presence,” he says.

“We have moved our digital marketing to our flagship store partner, hired a New Zealand Chinese sales manager and a Chinese brand manager to support our business and localised much of our global content to suit Chinese shopper tastes.  We have since employed additional Chinese talent into the marketing team to help us manage the complexities of the Chinese market and to better understand Chinese shoppers.”

He says Alibaba has been very supportive of Ziwi both before and after launch and has provided support to drive shoppers to Ziwi’s flagship Tmall stores.

This year Tmall created an online video to promote Double 11 and included Ziwi in the clip. Celebrity Jackson Yee, a singer, actor, influencer and Tmall ambassador, starred in the video prior to the Chinese shopping festival Double 11. The video was viewed 16.99 million times and reposted more than one million times.

In the lead up to the massive shopping festival, Ziwi’s Chinese marketing partner created a campaign that highlighted the closeness between pets and their guardians. Five different scenarios common to the target market were used to create an engaging emotive campaign that was rolled out across multiple touch points.

Ziwi began exporting the world’s first air-dried pet food in 2004 to the United States and has grown rapidly as the worldwide leader in air-dried pet nutrition, now exporting to more than 25 countries.

To keep up with the demand of its expanding global footprint, including the phenomenal growth in China, Ziwi has continued to invest heavily in increasing manufacturing capacity. The company has recently completed an expansion of its second production kitchen in Christchurch and is planning a significant investment in a new world-class production kitchen, forecast to open in 2021.

*Source: 2019 White paper released by goumin.com and Pet Fair Asia.

Glenn Baker

Professional writer/editor with 35-plus years experience - including radio copywriting, various television writing/production roles, and writing for business magazines. I have also co-owned a wholesale food distribution business.

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