Within the scope of the different natural ingredients projects of CBI, exporters are supported in developing their market entry plan. In this plan, they decide what they want to export, to which markets and through which channels and players. It also helps exporters to determine what they need to do to make this happen: in terms of product development, marketing and promotion, as well as determining which human and financial resources they need to support these processes. The market orientation mission, which Robbie Hogervorst did together with CBI cosmetic ingredient expert Andrew Jones, is a key step in this process.
The mission combined classroom training to help companies verify their market entry strategy. By visiting the In-Cosmetics trade fair in Barcelona, the companies could meet potential buyers and come to a better understanding of what they need to enter the European market. Not only did the trade fair show them potential customers, but also their competitors: both from Europe as well as from other biodiversity hotspots such as Brazil. Visiting retail outlets was also key in coming to an understanding how ingredients are used and marketed by European manufacturers and retailers. Furthermore, the participants got further acquainted with the market to write on their individual plans with discussions and training modules on market and industry trends and buyer requirements. It were these group discussions particularly that brought out a lot of similarities between the countries: all highly (bio)diverse countries with sectors are mostly composed of SMEs, which face similar issues, such as access and benefit sharing and a lack of product development capacities.
Business support organisations from the different companies were also present. Robbie focused specifically on BSOs from South Africa, both to place the natural ingredients sector higher on the national policy agenda and to support the development of more appropriate policies and tools to support the sector in the long term.