Our company’s export strategy was built on the back of many years of success in Belgium and Benelux as well as a few confidential experiences on foreign markets outside of the European Union. It was born of a desire to extend our reach and increase turnover, and it led to the creation of a dedicated exports department in 2017.
New markets for our products
Yannick Toussaint, Export Sales Director, tells us: “Initially, we wanted to develop stronger ties and more joint projects in partnership with around ten existing clients in foreign markets, to try to extend the range of pharmaceutical products available to them. Then, we focused on moving into new markets and new territories to find new clients. Our initial efforts were directed at Gulf region countries (Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, etc.) in particular, through the distribution of Alline Procap, one of our flagship hair growth products. For some time, we have taken an interest in Asia (Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore) where we have started to export significant quantities of our products.” More specifically, our objective for 2020 involves China and Vietnam. It’s an exciting challenge which has already led to distribution contracts with local agents: one in China and three in Vietnam. Breaking into two such sizeable markets should enable Trenker to sell significant quantities of products overseas.
Trenker currently has export interests in fifteen countries worldwide. In some of these countries, products are already being sold, while in others, the company is still registering products. “It should be remembered that, depending on the country and Health Ministry requirements, this registration phase can take between six months and three years, between procuring the requisite documentation (certificates of composition, GMP certificates, analysis of specifications, etc.) and having the registration granted or denied. This explains why there is always a certain delay between the work you put into exporting products and the payoff from that work”, explains Yannick.
Exports currently account for about ten percent of turnover, reflecting a stable increase since 2017. In the long-term, Trenker would like for exports to represent 20 to 23% of its turnover. “This ambition is completely feasible, based on current registrations”, adds Yannick, “even though we are well aware that an economic, political or health crisis can turn everything on its head. That’s all part of the exports game!”
Markets and... cultures
Breaking into new markets requires upstream analysis. This is essential to understanding cultural codes and specificities. “I spend a good portion of my time preparing the ground, talking to chemists and doctors to find out what they think about local distributors. This is very important! We must be highly attentive to cultural sensitivities in each country and carry out rigorous controls with authorities before we commercialise our products. Vital preparatory work includes exploring studies, reports, and analyses as well as developing relationships on the ground to identify what errors to avoid.”
Flagship products at the best prices
“Our priority its to export products for which we have a proven track record and solid registration documentation already in place for external markets”, Yannick continues.
“Our priority sectors are joint care, hair growth and digestion. These are very competitive areas and, when it comes to exports, price is a significant stumbling block, of course.
You need to have a good understanding of the positioning you are going for, because there is always a balance between the price and the quality of a product. If you want to sell quality products to people with enough purchasing power, you cannot sell at low prices. In any case, that isn’t Trenker’s core business. For over eighty years, we have produced quality products. It is part of our reputation. And to remain competitive as an exporter, Trenker needs to be a manufacturer. That is what makes it possible to adapt certain formulas to reduce cost-price and remain competitive without sacrificing the quality of major active principles.”
Business, exports and technology
“Today, the export business relies more on technology than before. I tend to use apps (WhatsApp, Wechat, etc.) more than emails, with no real limits on working hours. This flexibility and availability are vital for our clients. Technology has also become a key part of marketing and communication with end-users, areas in which we work closely with our distributors (marketing support, social networks, influencers, etc.).”
Is Trenker making a name for itself overseas?
What’s for sure is that the history and success of this family-run Belgian business resonate overseas, as does its experience and longevity (eighty-seven years counts for something!). These are qualities which appeal to both distributors and consumers. They lend weight and credibility to our products in specific sectors. The quality and reliability of our products, the availability and flexibility of our services and our personal touch all contribute to creating a strong relationship.
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